When you are part of a musical dynasty, it is only natural that the personal and professional aspects of your life should intersect. It was no different for Devon Allman, whose late father Gregg Allman helped helm one of the most important and influential American bands of the past fifty years. It is also little wonder that the younger Allman, an accomplished singer, songwriter, and guitarist in his own right, should feel the tug of family responsibility and the desire to honor his father’s fabled legacy.
It was also only natural that following his father’s passing on May 27, 2017, Devon would take time to grieve his loss, be with his family, and consider his own plans going forward. After all, he had been on the road continuously for twelve years, playing an average of 250 dates a year. Consequently, he took six months off to rally around his loved ones and “rack up more time with my kid,” as he put it. That included monthly visits to see relatives on the West Coast and taking the time to heal and rearm himself with the impetus and inspiration needed to embark upon the next phase of his career.
“It felt good to take that time off,” Allman says in retrospect. “I needed to step back and make up for lost time with the people that are close to me.” Even so, he did not neglect music entirely. On December 8, 2017, on what would have been Gregg Allman’s seventieth birthday, Devon and a group of special friends celebrated the elder Allman’s life and music with a special concert at the iconic Fillmore in San Francisco. An incredible array of artists took part—Robert Randolph, brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, G Love, members of Phish, Samantha Fish, and Jimmy Hall, among them.
“It was a magical evening,” Allman recalls. “It was like a family gathering. There was so much great music, so many musicians who had such respect for my father, all of whom felt such a personal connection to both the man and his music. And when my manager told me that we could do the concert at the Fillmore, a place that obviously had such profound ties to my dad’s career, I couldn’t have been happier.”
The show also rekindled his enthusiasm for several projects he was planning for 2018. In March, his new six-piece band, the Devon Allman Project, launched a world tour with special guest Duane Betts, the son of Allman Brothers cofounder Dickey Betts. The two men have known each since 1989 when Devon was seventeen and Duane was twelve. “We’ve had this enduring friendship ever since we were kids,” Allman muses. “We’ve always talked about going out on tour together, and now the time seems right. He’ll start the show, then I’ll do my portion and finally the two of us will share the stage for the encore.”
It will, he says, be about comfort, remembrance, and a special bond between musical brothers, sentiments that are especially meaningful at this particular time. The first round of World Tour dates was announced at the end of January 2018. Naturally, Allman also has a new record in the works for 2018 titled Full Speed Ahead. He describes it as an album steeped in classic Americana tradition, the type of music made by Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, and other harbingers of California’s fabled Laurel Canyon scene of the 1970s. While details and the release date will be announced in the coming months, Allman does promise that the music will reflect the sound of timeless classics of that vintage pedigree.