Devon Allman

By Tom Craig

SFL Music: Hey, Devon. It’s Tom Craig from SFL Music Magazine. How are you today?
Devon Allman: Hey, I’m doing good, Tom. How you doing, buddy?

SFL Music: Very good, very good. Thank you for giving us this time to talk for a few minutes, today. I appreciate it.
Devon Allman: You got it, my man. No problem.

SFL Music: So-
Devon Allman: Thanks for having me.

SFL Music: Hey, anytime, anytime. We’re looking forward to seeing you, down here, in November.
Devon Allman: Oh, yeah, man. That’s going to be a party, right there.

SFL Music: Yes, sir. So, I got to ask, since December 2017 at The Fillmore, out there, in San Francisco, when you did that first celebration of your dad’s life and music-
Devon Allman: Yes.

SFL Music:… did you imagine that five years later it’d grow to an 18 city, coast-to-coast tour?
Devon Allman: I had absolutely no idea. I had lost my mama four months before I lost dad. At that point, I was just like, “Man, I just want to kind of cancel the rest of the year.” You know?

SFL Music: Yeah.
Devon Allman: “I’m not going to be able to focus.” It was just a tough time. It took me a while to realize that, “Wait. Making music’s healing. Man, I need to get back out there.” So, we put that first celebration for dad because the only night they had available was the night that would’ve been his 70th birthday. It was just like the stars aligned-

SFL Music: It was meant to be.
Devon Allman: It was unbelievable and meant to be. We played the gig, and everybody had such a good time. The Fillmore asked us back the next year, but they asked for two nights since that had sold out. We were like, “Well, yeah, of course.” You know?

Did that. Then, the next year, the Beacon Theater in New York City wanted one. You know? It just kind of kept growing and growing. Yeah. Here we are, 18 city, coast-to-coast tour. It was never something that we sat down and planned out. It just kept growing, and it’s great. You know? It’s really cool to be able to bring this kind of show to some cool places, man, to bring it to Denver, and down in Florida. We have five shows in Florida this year, which I’m really geeked about because last year’s tour we only had one Florida stop. It’s nice to really get down there and stretch out.

SFL Music: Sure, sure. So, if you can, take a minute or so, and tell me about everybody you’ve got on board for this year’s Allman Family Revival.
Devon Allman: Man, we’ve got, returning to the fold, Mr. Jimmy Hall from Wet Willie, if you remember the hit, Keep on Smiling-

SFL Music: Absolutely.
Devon Allman: …from back in the day. You know? There were times where Jimmy would be in dad’s solo band in the ’90s and early 2000s. We love Jimmy. He’s an uncle to me, Uncle Jimmy Hall. Blues legend, Larry McCray, joins us for the entire tour this year.

SFL Music: Great.
Devon Allman: Yeah. He’s unbelievable. Maggie Rose, up-and-coming Americana country star. She’s played the Grand Ole Opry a dozen times. She’s making a lot of noise out there. Amazing voice and just awesome talent so we’re really excited to have her. I mean, man, we’ve got some serious talent. We got George Porter Jr. from The Meters. His band’s opening some shows. Ivan Neville-

SFL Music: Yeah. Aaron’s son.
Devon Allman: …who people know from Keith Richards’ solo band, and his group, Dumpstaphunk, is opening quite a few shows. Blues music award winning Samantha Fish. We got Donovan Frankenreiter. We got Duane Betts. I haven’t played music with Duane this year. We put our band on hiatus for a little while to work on some other projects. To get to share the stage with Duane again is going to be great. The River Kittens are fantastic. They’re signed to my label. They just hit a million streams on one of their tunes on Spotify. Goodness, I’m going to be leaving somebody out. Alex Orison, Roy Orbison’s son, my longtime bro, so stoked for him to be on the whole tour.

SFL Music: Oh, wow.
Devon Allman: Yeah. If you go to, you’ll get a whole list of the cast of characters. Man, we’re just so excited. G Love is going to be on some shows. Shemekia Copeland. Greg Koch, Vaylor and Melody Trucks (Butch Trucks’ daughter and son) …represent the Florida contingency, down there. Can’t wait to jam with them. It’s going to be a good time.

SFL Music: It sounds like a fantastic lineup, the openers you’ve got set up for it. I think, down here, for the Florida shows, it’s George Porter, if I remember correctly.
Devon Allman: Yeah, man. That’s unbelievable.

SFL Music: Yeah.
Devon Allman: We love George. He did a few shows with me last time, and then played on my record that’s going to come out next year. Man, what a sweetheart, what a badass. We love George Porter, Jr.

SFL Music: Absolutely. When you think about this diverse group of band members, guests, and openers that you’re bringing together for this, what amazes you the most about all of them coming together?
Devon Allman: Just reverence, and that respect and that love they had for dad and The Allman Brothers, and that body of work. You know? That’s really the common thread that links us all, that love for dad, and his voice, and the songs he wrote, and all the beautiful music he left us. This is our generation of musicians. It’s really galvanized us together, over this respect and this reverence for dad’s music. It’s very humbling, and sweet, and kind that they make room in their busy schedules of touring and recording to join this tour, and play a little of their music and a little of dad’s, their take on some of dad’s music. It’s a really, really lovely experience. I initially blueprinted this evening after The Last Waltz by The Band. I was like, “That’s such a great cast of characters.” It’s just like this traveling circus is what it’s kind of become, and-

SFL Music: Yeah.
Devon Allman: There’s just a lot of, I don’t know, just a lot of solidarity, and a lot of togetherness on this tour. It’s really special.

SFL Music: When do you guys start rehearsals?
Devon Allman: Rehearsals are going to start next week with the core band, some guy’s kind of coming in and out. Mostly, for these, we do a six-to-seven-hour rehearsal the day of the first show. The core band will already know everything. Then, we’ll do a rehearsal where we bring up Larry McCray and we do his song. Then, we bring up Jimmy, and do his songs. Kind of run through everybody, get everybody comfortable. By the second or third night, it’s kind of off to the races. You know?

SFL Music: I can imagine.
Devon Allman: Lot of fun. Lot of fun.

SFL Music: You just mentioned about your generation. Something I’ve found interesting is if you take into account all of the Allman offspring, and how their relationship seems so solid, and they’re so, as a group, musically inclined, you find that’s amazing?
Devon Allman: I mean, we’re products of our environment. You know? I left high school and went on tour with the Allman Brothers. That taught me a lot, man, being around it. Duane Betts was around it. We grew up with it, and it’s just cool. You know? It’s cool that we were given that opportunity. You still had to put your time in.

SFL Music: Oh, sure.
Devon Allman: What do they say? It takes 10,000 hours to be a master at your particular craft, whether you’re a woodworker, or whatever, an architect, or a musician, or an actor, whatever. I mean, you got to put in that 10,000 hours. You’re not born with the 10,000 hours already put in. You know what I mean? I guess, that’s something that I’m really proud of our generation, and the offspring of The Allman Brothers, that everybody’s really put in the work.

SFL Music: Berry Duane was there with you guys, too, wasn’t he?
Devon Allman: Yeah. He was on some of the last revivals, for sure.

SFL Music: No. I mean, back when you and Duane-
Devon Allman: Oh, yeah. On that reunion tour in ’89, that’s where I met Berry and Duane, for sure. That’s where our relationship started.

SFL Music: Yeah. Okay. I saw that you and Eric Gales just did a couple of dates up at the National Blues Museum in St. Louis to benefit the museum and celebrate the music of Albert King. You guys did a couple of acoustic nights. Tell me a little bit about that, and if you and Eric have future plans to work with the museum.
Devon Allman: I’ve been on the board of directors with the National Blues Museum since its inception. I’ve been doing it for a while, five years. I came to a point where I really wanted someone else on the board that was a touring, recording musician, because I kind of felt like there was an imbalance. I brought it up to the board that I’d like to appoint someone that was like me, out there doing it in the trenches. Eric was the guy that came to mind that would be perfect for it. We celebrated his appointment to the board of directors. We got him on, and to celebrate it, we had a concert. He flew in, and went down, and we did an acoustic duo tribute to Albert King. It was such a blast. People flew in from all over the country. It was a wonderful event. We raised a good amount of money for the museum. Now, that we’re both on the board, yeah, we’re going to do a concert like that once a year.

SFL Music: Oh, great.
Devon Allman: It’s a situation where we’ll pick a different theme every year. We talked about next year doing BB King. That’s our tribute. Yeah. All the money goes straight to the museum, and it’s the least we can do. It’s a really great facility. I hope that it inspires future guitar players and musicians.

SFL Music: To come, and help, and play.
Devon Allman: Yeah. I mean, hopefully a kid walks through there, and it inspires him to go take guitar lessons, or… You know? It’s a lovely place where you can really learn the rich history of the blues. It’s really well done. It’s like a $25 million facility, so it’s certainly no small potatoes.

SFL Music: I find it sad that blues has been relegated to not being on the live Grammy Show.
Devon Allman: I mean, it’s unfortunate, but blues isn’t a big enough genre, across the board, to facilitate advertising, and all of that. I mean, they have to go with their hot hand. I mean, that’s just business.

SFL Music: Yeah.
Devon Allman: I think anybody in our genre gets it and, doesn’t take it as a slight. There’s so many. You know? I mean, there’s world music, and Zydeco. I mean, there’s so many factions in genres of music that are not represented. It would be a nine-hour telecast. You know?

SFL Music: That’s true.
Devon Allman: Maybe, they should do that. Then the diehard music freaks could just tune in, or buy it, or whatever.

SFL Music: Yeah.
Devon Allman: I get it. I get it. At the end of the day, it’s kind of what they have to do.

SFL Music: You must be one of the busiest guys in music, between your touring, your writing, your label, and bringing out new people like Jackson Stokes. I see the photos, out there, of you taking your son to a ball game, and spending family time, and doing cooking. What’s your secret?
Devon Allman: What’s my secret to the fact-

SFL Music: Keeping all that going and having that wonderful family time.
Devon Allman: Thank you for that. That means a lot to me. You know, I grew up in a broken home. I mean, to just be as blunt as possible. Dad was out on tour, living the rockstar life, and mom was trying to hold it together with jobs, and stuff. I always rallied around my family as a kid. I always wanted to go to my grandparents’ house and see my cousins. Family was that place that felt safe to me. Family was something that… That togetherness made everything better, growing up in that broken home, and not meeting dad until later in life. Out of my childhood, into my adulthood, and becoming a father myself, family’s just number one. On the weekends, my sister needs to come over with my nephew. I need to see my nephew. I got to hit my son who’s in college, now, and say, “What night can we go have supper?”

When I’m home, I just have to make sure that I surround myself with family because that’s my center, that centers me. The rock and roll, and all of the things that I’m fortunate enough to do, like put on these tours, and make records, and have this label, and support other artists, and yada, yada, yada, those things feed my artistic side. At the end of the day, family is everything. How do I balance between being a rocker, or a musician, or whatever you want to call it, and then being family? It’s just… I don’t know, man. They’re both so important to me, and they both feed my soul. I couldn’t imagine not having one of those two things. I guess, when I’m on tour, or I’m in the studio, I’m so focused on the music, and the show. Then, when I’m home, I’m home. I’m focused on family, and I’m passionate about wellness, and cooking, and just being with family. I guess, it’s just when I’m home, that’s the focus. When I’m away, the music’s the focus. I guess, that’s how I achieve the balance. I never really thought about how, I just do it.

SFL Music: Well, from a personal standpoint, I find it very inspirational because not a lot of people in your business are able to pull off what you do, in my feeling.
Devon Allman: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I don’t really know any other way because those are the priorities that I have in my life. You know what I mean? It doesn’t seem like something that’s super honorable, or some trick, or some magical thing, honestly. I love my family, and I love music, and that’s just about it.

SFL Music: Well, here’s one I’ve really wanted to ask you. With all of the advice fathers pass on to sons, what is the advice that you hold closest to you from your dad?
Devon Allman: Oh, man. You know? He was really good about not meddling. You know what I mean? He didn’t really meddle. He wanted me to find my own way. He didn’t offer up a ton of advice. I do remember, I was playing at Mud Island in Memphis, and I sat in with the band. It was the second time I would sit in with the band. I was 18 years old, and I was going to sing Midnight Rider. I had already done it with the band and was successful. It was a good night. I sang well. It was like a big breath of just, “Ah. Okay. I did it.” So, this was the second time. Of course, when you’re 18 and you’ve already done something pretty major, you think, “Oh, man. Well, I got this in the bag.” So, I hit the stage. I go to sing Midnight Rider, and I’m supposed to take the second verse. (Singing). My mouth opens up, and I sing the third verse where the second verse is.

SFL Music: Oh.
Devon Allman: I’m like, “Oh, shit.” My inner dialogue is going, “Oh, I totally screwed that up.” Then, I’m thinking, “Well, maybe, dad will sing the second verse over in the third verse spot, and kind of balance it out and make it right. I thought, “Yeah, man.” I sang the third verse in the second verse spot. You know? (Singing). Then, when the third verse came up for dad to sing it, he sang, (Singing). So, he repeated- The third verse. I thought, “Son of a gun. You could’ve just sang the other verse, and…” I was backstage, and he goes, “Man, you sang pretty good tonight.” I go, “Thanks.” I go, “I was kind of hoping you would sing the other verse to balance it out.” And, he goes, “Oh, my son, two wrongs do not make a right.” I was like, “Wow.” I mean, that hit me. I was like, “You’re absolutely right.” You know? But, he really got me there. It was like, “Yep, yep. You’re right. You’re right.” That one stuck with me for a long time. Then, he really had a good way of looking at music, and singing, and performing. His quote, that I always thought was really cool was, “You shouldn’t have to push. The music, it should all just ooze out of you.” That’s what he would say. “It should just ooze out of you,” which I thought was a great way of looking at it.

SFL Music: On that same thing, again, not just about life, in general, but was there one piece of his music advice that sticks with you, today?
Devon Allman: Not really, man. I mean, a lot of his advising came just by example. I just kind of watched the guy work. You know? Yeah. Like I said, he didn’t really meddle. He wanted me to find my own way. He didn’t want to have such an influence. You know what I mean?

SFL Music: Mm-hmm.
Devon Allman: He wanted me to do my own thing, find my own way, find my own sound, find my own style, find my own work ethic. He really didn’t interfere. You know?

SFL Music: Yeah.
Devon Allman: It wasn’t like… You know? I mean, I’m sure he would’ve had tons of advice, but he liked seeing me figure it out.

SFL Music: Yeah. That’s great. You know? I’m sure there’s a lot of parents, out there, that would be just constantly over someone. You know?
Devon Allman: Totally. That was his fear. He didn’t want to be that guy.

SFL Music: Yeah.
Devon Allman: I really respect that. I respect that a lot.

SFL Music: Well, I so appreciate this time, Safe travels on your tour we can’t wait to see you, down here, in South Florida.
Devon Allman: Thank you brother. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time, today.

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