Article by: Emily Wheeler // Photos by: Andrew Kopanski
Salisbury, MA — Though just yards from the frigid waters of the Atlantic ocean, those inside Blue Ocean Music Hall this past Friday would have sworn they’d spent a night in the warmth of the South. As The Allman Betts Band took their place on stage, the audience roared. The band’s first notes cued projections of airboats tearing up the Bayou, immediately transporting all into the world of Southern Rock.
First to take the stage was Jackson Stokes. Witnessing the Stokes experience, one would never believe these players were merely an opener on this tour of The Allman Betts Band. From firey vocals and lightning-fast/razor accurate solos on lead guitar to a stage presence that captures one entirely, Jackson Stokes is a true force. This level of skill was met, if not surpassed by his incredible band. Every player moved together in perfect sync, taking the audience along with them.
To watch the Allman Betts Band is to share an intimate moment with Southern Rock history. Sprouting from the Devon Allman Project, comprised of Allman Brothers descendants Devon Allman and Duane Betts, the story of the Allman Betts band starts much, much earlier than that of most. Meeting as boys on the road during the 20th Anniversary tour of the Allman Brothers, Devon and Duane remark that they clicked immediately. However, it wasn’t until a 2017 concert honoring the life of Allman’s parents that the two joined forces in a serious way.
The storied ensemble played originals old and new, and, much to the delight of the audience, played a few songs from their shared history with the Allman Brothers. From start to finish the show was so perfectly balanced, with soaring highs in full-band jams to soft intimate moments at the front of the stage. Highlights included solos from pianist John Ginty, who truly won the hearts of the audience, even evoking the stylings of Bruce Hornsby in various instances of his playing. Also worth noting, the harmonies sung that evening had a particular magic to them. Vastly different voices make up the Allman Betts Band. Each contributes a vital tone to the formation of their characteristic sound as a whole.
For those who loved the music of The Allman Brothers, this concert was an amazing tribute and trip to the past. To those who love great music, this concert shows a promising glimpse of the future. Their tour continues through the summer, check them out at a stop near you.