Jacqueline edeling

Duane Betts, from Sarasota, shares his musical memories before the Allman family awakens


Originally from Sarasota, Duane Betts, the son of founding Allman Brothers member Dickey Betts, was just 16 when he first performed on stage with the classic American rock band.

“I was really nervous about it and purposely forgot my guitar in the hotel room thinking it would make a difference, you know I might be okay because I just wanted to hand it over to a another day, ”he recalls. “And my father,” he said, “you’re going to sit down, right? Tonight is evening. And I go, oh man, I forgot my guitar. He just looked at me and said, oh, it’s okay. We have a lot of guitars, you can just play one of ours. “

Young Betts admits it probably should have occurred to him that the Allman Brothers Band could have had a few more guitars on hand.

“Why didn’t I think about it?” He laughs. “Why did I think I was going to get through this?”

It turned out that there was no need to worry. When it came time for his solo, Betts did very well.

Later that summer he performed with the band during their appearance at the ’94 Woodstock Music Festival.

Courtesy of the artist

A young Duane Betts playing guitar with Father Dickey Betts at home in Sarasota.

The Allman Brothers Band ceased touring in 2014, but Betts found other musical ventures. One of them – The Allman Family Revival – will bring him back to the area on Friday when the show takes place at the Van Wezel Preforming Arts Center in Sarasota. The cover is a tribute to southern rock patriarch Gregg Allman and began as a celebration of what would have been the musician’s 70th birthday in December 2017.

Betts’ ancestors came to Manatee County during the Civil War era. Duane Betts grew up in Sarasota until the age of 12. When his parents divorced, he divided his time between his mother’s home in California and Florida where his father still lives.

“I just have fond memories of going to Siesta Key, going to the beach and going out on the boat,” he said. “Also, the other side, go hunting in Myakka. The real genre, the Florida home stuff was all from my dad.”

Father and son have always had a close relationship, and Betts says he learned a lot about music from his father.

“He’s such a masterful musician and he definitely gave me some advice along the way,” he said.

“One of the things he said was go out and play with nature and try not to offend it. You know, it’s not like I’m going to play outside in the woods, next to a stream everyday. i mean i play indoors but the concept of trying to learn how to make a nice melody and make it sound where it makes someone feel good and feel like he is in a safe place and can trust you. “

In 2005, Dickey Betts asked his son to join his band Great Southern, which was formed after the elder Betts parted ways with the Allman Brothers Band.

These days, Duane plays in The Allman Betts Band with Greg Allman’s son Devon and Berry Oakley Jr, a current resident of Sarasota County, whose father was the founding bassist of the Allman Brothers.

The three first met when they were children while touring with their famous fathers.

Two men sitting outside on garden chairs wave to the camera

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Duane and Dickey Betts relax at the Betts family home in Sarasota in May 2021.

The Allman Betts group is rock music steeped in Americana. It’s a mix of southern rock, blues and a lot of soul. The band released their debut album Down to the River in 2018.

In concert, the group mainly plays original music, but they also cover some classics from the Allman Brothers.

“We love this music,” he said. “But we certainly don’t go out and play Allman Brothers songs halfway through the night. It’s really a balance and we’re not trying to shy away from it. It’s an incredible legacy to come from.”

Even so, inheritance can be a difficult thing to navigate.

But with the release last year of their second album, the double CD, Bless Your Heart, the Allman Betts Band signaled that it was not there to fill anyone’s shoes, but to leave their own. fingerprints.

The group serves as a home group for the The rebirth of the Allman family tour which is based on the “The Last Waltz” concert format, a three hour show featuring up to a dozen big names in music.