The Sixth Annual Allman Family Renaissance Tour has been such a meaningful celebration of my father’s life and music and also such a sweet reunion for our extended musical tribe. Making new memories and friends along the way, we started in Macon, Georgia, a city that is very special to our collective family. We made it epic, turning it into a three hour mega show. It’s been so nice spending time with everyone. This year, I made it a point to make absolutely sure I was there for every phase: after all, these are the good old days.
Blues legend Larry McCray is busting his ass, Jimmy Hall is killing it absolutely every night with that amazing, soulful, powerful voice, while the River Kittens are making new fans at every turn and looking to take over the planet, which we will all gladly do. hand them over when all is said and done, they are that great. It has been soul food getting together with my brother Duane Betts and playing some music, sharing some meals and having coffee with him. Our chemistry and friendship hasn’t budged an inch, that history is as deep as it gets.
Maggie Rose and I enjoy a beautiful and moving moment each night with our tender rendition of “These Days.” She is at home in our family. Donavon Frankenreiter and I wrote an entire album’s worth of material with producer/guitarist Luther Dickinson looking after us. Alex Orbison became one of our full time drummers and teamed up with the amazing John Lum to recreate the double drum synergy of The Allman Brothers Band. Cody Dickinson jumped on a few dates and made everyone have a good time. John Ginty returned to the fold to serve as everyone’s magnetic and musical north; his playing and his presence tie it all together. Simply put, we are all better musicians because of him.
Justin Corgan dove deep and really committed to nailing the bass lines; his smile and positivity were contagious. The tag team of David Gomez and R. Scott Bryan on percussion has been magical. Gomez’s saxophone work has also brought the house down. Jackson Stokes wowed audiences with his command of the lead guitar. We welcomed Butch Trucks’ son Vaylor and his daughter Melody for the first time, but it certainly won’t be the last. Greg Koch murdered everything he touched and so did Tal Wilkenfeld: both are charming and virtuous warriors in the battle for good.
Several celebrations also happened on this tour: Frankenreiter turned 50, Gomez became a US citizen, and we danced in honor of my father on what would have been his 75th birthday. We played the Beacon Theater in New York and the hallowed halls of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. We celebrated Dickey Betts’ 79th birthday in Denver with our first version of “Jessica”. At 2:30 pm every day, I instituted “Steely Dan’s Smoothie Hour” to make great shakes for our fellow players and replay deep cuts from The Dan. He kept us healthy, laughing and playing. We also got tattoos on a day off in Virginia.
We play some new places on this coast to coast tour like Durham, NC, Charlotte, NC and Montgomery, Ala. The fans in every city were fired up and ready to go, singing along and giving us all their lovely energy. Los Angeles was exceptionally lovingDovey this year and San Francisco, my second home during the ’90s when my father lived there, was full of straight-up maniacs.
We had a fantastic local gig in St. Louis at one of the coolest new venues in America, The Factory. The next day we had free so we spent it at my house; I made breakfast, lunch and dinner for some of my Revival brothers and sisters. We watched football, played jazz vinyl, and hit the reset button before hitting the road again.
This year we debuted the ’90s Allman Brothers track “Sailin’ ‘Cross the Devil’s Sea” and brought back “Melissa” and “Seven Turns.” The opening acts completely crushed him. George Porter Jr. and The Runnin Pardners, Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton, Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk, Mike & The Moonpies, JD Simo and Jackson Stokes brought the heat. We also thank our team members, new and old, who helped take everything to the next level: Mikey, our lighting director; Craig, our guitar tech; Nate, our trusted floor sound engineer; Martin, my longtime tour manager; Chris, our photographer and marketer; Cian, who ran our video wall; and Austin, our stage manager. It was the biggest team we’ve ever had, and everyone brought their A game.
Family is more than just the people you come into this world connected by lineage with: it’s who you choose to surround yourself with. This tour has two parts: it celebrates the revered families we come from and also celebrates the family we have created in my father’s absence. This traveling circus has become a family, year after year.