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Duane Betts Electric Autumn Tour 2022

Duane Betts Electric Autumn Tour 2022

by Todd McFliker, photos by Chris Brush

Last month, I had the pleasure of speaking with a humble Duane Betts. The young guitarist will be playing his first solo gig, the Electric Autumn Tour at The Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton on Saturday, November 19. Duane is the son of The Allman Brothers Band’s Dickey Betts. He has been touring since he was a teenager, whether it was sitting in with his dad’s band, joining him in Great Southern or leading his own groups, Backbone69 and Whitestarr. Let’s just say the young talent knows a thing or two about the music industry, from recording to life on the road with legendary artists.

SFL Music: We are looking forward to seeing you at The Funky Biscuit. I’ve seen you there twice already.
Duane Betts: Awesome. I love the venue. That part of Florida is so beautiful. I always look forward to coming back there.

SFL Music: I know you’re from Sarasota, but you moved out to Southern California. How’s it feels to be coming back home to South Florida?
Betts: I’ve actually been spending a lot of time here. I have a place in Jackson Hole now. So now I am based between Jackson, Wyoming and Sarasota. So now I am spending less time in California. But my mom lives there, so I get out there as much as I can to visit.

SFL Music: Isn’t the Electric Autumn Tour your first outing as a solo artist?
Betts: Yes, this is the only solo headlining tour that I’ve ever done. I was in The Allman Betts Band, I played with my father, and plenty of other people. As far as being a solo artist, this is the first electric full band tour I’ve ever done. I put together a great band for the tour. This is kind of a warmup for next year when I put out a new record. John Ginty will be there playing keyboard, Johnny Stachela on guitar, Berry Duane Oakley on bass and vocals, and Cody Dickinson from North Mississippi Allstars on drums. Lucette is opening and she is a wonderful artist. We are looking forward to it.

SFL Music: Then we get to see you in The Allman Family Revival in Pompano Beach Amphitheater on November 29.
Betts: Well, I love South Florida, especially this time of year when it starts getting cold everywhere, and it’s like 80° here.

SFL Music: Can you pinpoint what makes your solo performance different than previous ventures?
Betts: It’s still developing because we haven’t played the new songs off of our new record. Once we get into the full swing of things, I will be singing a lot more. In Allman Betts Band, Devon and I would share vocal duty. But he probably sang 60 or 70% of the material. So it’s a little different singing more. This batch of songs fits well together and we’re going to bring out a couple more.

SFL Music: Please tell me a little more about your upcoming record that meshes blues, rock and country.
Betts: It’s under my name and the title is Wild and Precious Life. We recorded it at Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi’s studio in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s ten songs that we recorded with Bobby Tis, who records all of Tedeschi Trucks Band. We mixed it out in LA with Jim Scott, who has worked on a ton of records. He has a Grammy for Tom Petty’s Wildflowers. We just got finished mastering it, and I am very proud of it. I don’t want to divulge too much right now, but it’s on the horizon for early next year.

SFL Music: You’ve said your dad was conscious of your immense musical talent as a child, and that’s why he wanted you to go on the road and be home schooled. How did that shape you as an artist?
Betts: He knew that I was very passionate about being a musician. I had already gotten pretty good on the drums. He thought I might switch over to guitar, which I ended up doing. During that time in my life, in those formative teenage years, he wanted me to spend time with him. It made more sense for me to be homeschooled so I could go on tour as well. Just being around great musicians was educational. I spent 8th grade through high school being homeschooled, and I spent a lot of that time on the road. When you’re around that and you hear music every night. Then you have the people there to pick their brains a little bit, it definitely adds up and makes a great foundation.
Duane: I just did a couple shows with Oteil (Burbridge) & Friends in Denver and Tempe, Arizona. There were a lot of fantastic musicians playing on that one, like Melvin Seals from the Jerry Garcia Band. And Oteil is great, so that was plenty of fun. I am heading to New York City this weekend to play with Phil Lesh. Halloween night, I’ll be playing with Phil Lesh & Friends at the Capitol Theatre (in Port Chester, NY). That will be awesome!

SFL Music: Yesterday was your 6-year sober mark. Do you want to share your experience with drug addiction?
Duane: Sure. I went through the addiction for many years from the time I was 19. I had a lot of fun, but things get dark. You may think that you’re having fun, but you really aren’t. Then it all turns into a nightmare. You have to really dig down deep and make a decision. It’s hard. You just can’t do it without help. I tried a couple times. Finally, I did it this last time with the help of some very good friends. I went to meetings and took the advice of people who went through it all before me. A lot of friends had already been through what I was going through, and some of them didn’t make it. So I was very fortunate to get it right. Obviously it’s a cliché, but you just take it one day at a time. It’s kind of an old cliché, but it’s true.

SFL Music: Good for you. How about sharing a story that’s a little more fun, like sharing a stage with Warren Haynes and Grace Potter in Oaxaca City, Mexico earlier this month?
Duane: Yeah, the thing with Warren and Grace was really cool. I didn’t expect to play with Grace. When I got there, Warren said he wanted a full harmony on “Gold Dust Woman.” And we did a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song too. I was just looking forward to getting there and relaxing. But he put me to work running harmonies and lyrics. It was so cool to sing with both of them, I was just happy for the opportunity. Warren and Gov’t Mule do a thing in Jamaica every January called Island Exodus. I’ll be a part of it (Island Exodus 13) this year. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin’s Evening, along with Daniel Donato will also be there. So that’s going to be fun.

SFL Music: Speaking of Jason Bonham, the drummer once told me how fortunate he is to come from a rock and roll legend. Derek Trucks says it’s a double-edged sword, and Devon Allman claims he spends zero time thinking about the subject. I am correct in saying you’ve embraced the attention joining a band with your dad?
Duane: Hmm, that’s not so simple. I would have to agree with Jason. Yes, it’s a huge honor and I feel very fortunate to come from the legacy of music that some of us come from. But it can get in your head, if you let it. So I understand what Devon is saying. It can be a weight to carry, but I feel like it’s a weight worth carrying. They (The Allman Brothers) are one of the greatest bands ever. People love that music and they want to hear that music. So you can follow your father’s footprints, as long as you are making your own prints too. If I just wrote ten songs and put that record out, then I am doing my job. It’s okay that I am not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet.

SFL Music: And you are making art, which is a beautiful thing. Is there anything else you want to tell South Floridians?
Duane: I always love coming back to Boca. We are looking forward to seeing everybody again. It’s going to be a great night for live music and I can’t wait to play.

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