Devon Allman: Chipotle Blues

Scott Mitchell BY

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No formula for me really. I look for a doorway, a starting point, and usually let it unfold.
—Devon Allman
The son of Gregg Allman and Shelly Kay Jefts, our featured artist Mr. Devon Allman, was born in 1972 in Corpus Christi, Texas but grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri. Devon's musical journey and childhood was contrary to what many people assumed. There was no silver spoon and Devon did not learn how to play music by hanging out back stage at Allman Brothers concerts. In fact, Devon did not meet his father until he was in his teens. And even though father and son bonded immediately, his father made a concerted effort to allow Devon to find his own musical voice and style. Devon formed the band Honeytribe in 1999. The band broke up when Devon's son was born but they reformed in 2005 and toured the US, Canada, and Europe. In 2011 Devon was part of a blues and rock super group that was called, "Royal Southern Brotherhood" which included Mike Zito, Yonrico Scott, Charlie Wooten, and Cyril Neville. The band has been touring the US as well as fourteen foreign countries since then. Devon collaborated with The Vargas Blues Band, The Dan Bruder Band, Jeremiah Johnson, and has played on stage with his father and the Allman Brothers Band. Devon is currently on tour with his long time friend Duane Betts as part of the Devon Allman Project. The current tour runs thru October where they will be playing in Germany, The Netherlands, England, the US, and Belgium.

All About Jazz: Your current tour, how did that come about?

Devon Allman: Duane [Duane Betts] and I have talked about doing a joint tour for a long time. We felt the timing was right on many different levels.

AAJ: So far, has the tour met your expectation?

DA: It has been a wonderful, strong opening week. Most shows have sold out. The band is getting into a rhythm. It's gonna be a great year!

AAJ: What is the back story or genesis of the formation of your band?

DA: Long story short, I just stole the best cats from home in St. Louis and then we got Nicholas David, a finalist on "The Voice," on keyboards. Each cat really brings a world class "A game" to the show.

AAJ: How is the chemistry been with the band and how important is that?

DA: Very important. It has been great and still growing and gelling. Very important.

AAJ: What is a typical day in the life of Devon Allman while on the road?

DA: Wake up on the bus. Text my son. Find a latte, take business calls from my team. Catch up on emails. Warm up on some guitar. Read the news. Sound check. Find sushi or something light. Meet fans at the pre show VIP. Then let it rip at the show.

AAJ: What was the first instrument that you played? How did your musicality grow and develop

DA: The violin. It was a horrific sound. It grew by listening to my heroes and trying to emulate them. Then it progressed into finding my own style and voice and writing.

AAJ: Who were your early music influences?

DA: The Stones, Santana, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Hendrix and The Doors.

AAJ: Who are your current music influences?

DA: The Stones, Santana, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Hendrix and The Doors.

AAJ: How did jazz fit into your musical journey?

DA: It's through osmosis. I'm a jazz fan when it comes to cooking. Love me some Miles, Coltrane, and Herbie. I am sure that it finds its way into the jams. As it should.

AAJ: When did you know that this was your calling?

DA: When I was nine. I saw Cheap Trick and when Rick Neilsen pulled out the five neck guitar I was hooked.

AAJ: Outside of your music, work, and family, what do you do for fun? Is there any time left for fun?

DA: Art museums, cooking, world travel, white water rafting, ball games, and films. I also write for two major music magazines and have my own brand of hot sauce on the market. I serve on the board of directors for the twenty-seven million dollar National Blues Museum, and I am launching my own label in the fall.

AAJ: Best moments on stage during this tour

DA: Playing our Dad's music with Duane [Duane Betts] during the encore.

AAJ: Best moments on stage period?

DA: Playing in New York City with Mr. Les Paul.

AAJ: Best moments off stage?

DA: Being a dad, seeing the world, and making records.

AAJ: Looking back over your life, what were the big moments? Things that had a significant impact on your life?

DA: Becoming a father was the biggest moment of my life. Being there for the birth and holding my son was truly incredible. I never knew I had that capacity to love that deeply. Truly astounding.

AAJ: Can you describe the creative process that you experience when writing a song and when writing lyrics? Is there a formula or repetitive process that works best for you?

DA: No formula for me really. I look for a doorway, a starting point, and usually let it unfold.

AAJ: The desert island question. If you were stranded on a desert island what ten albums would you bring?

DA: I'll give you five. Curtis Mafield's first solo record. The Cure's, "Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me," The Rolling Stone's, "Sticky Fingers," The Band's, "The Last Waltz," and Derek and The Dominos "Layla."

AAJ: What are your ten favorite bands of all time?

DA: I will give you five. The Stones, Pink Floyd, The Cure, Iron Maiden, and The Beatles.

AAJ: Who are your top ten musicians of all time?

DA: David Gilmour, Frank Zappa, Curtis Mayfield, George Harrison, and Keith Richards.

AAJ: What are the most personal original songs that you have written? Which are your most enjoyable to perform live?

DA: I dig my instrumentals the most. "Midnight Lake Michigan" was a really fun one take live jam that really captured a vibe. "Mahalo" has always been a crowd favorite. I think that rock instrumentals are a lost art form. I am proud of mine.

AAJ: If you could put together a one night concert of your dreams, where you could assemble artists from past and present to be in your all star band, what would that lineup be?

DA: Me and my Dad playing an acoustic duo.

AAJ: What would the set list be?

DA: Whatever we wanted between our material.

AAJ: And, what venue would you chose for this dream concert?

DA: The Sydney Opera House, Sydney Australia.

Photo credit: Scott Mitchell

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