First, there’s the surname. Devon Allman is indeed the son of the legendary Gregg. But he came from a broken home, and grew up relatively poor in Texas and Missouri. He was 15 before he ever made any sort of connection with his father.
Like his old man, however, Allman was obsessed with music, all kinds of music, from an early age. He is a singer and guitarist who has charted his own course since forming the band Honeytribe in 1999 (he took a six–year break to raise his son, but came back swinging with his debut album, Torch, in 2006; Space–Age Blues followed in 2010).
Honeytribe plays hard electric blues, and rock ‘n’ roll, and is saturated by the punch and sway of classic rhythm ‘n’ blues.
Allman, 39, and the guys are headlining the second annual A–Town Get Down Saturday at the Charles H. Morris Center.
It’s a musical celebration of the life of SCAD graphic design sophomore Alex Townsend, who was killed in a car accident on Valentine’s Day 2010.
The A–Town Get Downs are put together by Alex’s father, advertising writer Tom Townsend.
“He grew up in St. Louis, but he always had this huge affinity for the South and the Southeast,” Townsend told us last year. “That was one reason that Savannah was such a cool place to him. He just thought Savannah was awesome.”
Stencil graffiti artist Peat Wollaeger will create a work of art on canvas during the event.
You’ve built up quite a fan base since you started this back up in 2005.
Devon Allman: For the first three years, we clipped at about 300 shows a year. It was just murderous. For the years since, we’ve kept to about 200. We’re up to like 46 states, 20 countries, something like that. The work ethic has really kind of reflected the music, in that we’ve done it old school. You have to pound the pavement and stay out there. Remind people who you are and what you do. It’s called the long, long way. So instead of 50 people showing up to your shows there’s 300. Instead of playing at noon at the festivals, you’re playing at 5. So while we’re not anywhere close to being household names or anything like that, the work ethic has definitely pushed the band up another couple notches.
Has it all gone pretty much the way you thought it would?
Devon Allman: I just kind of trust in the universe. I throw the work out there. I work my ass off and I trust that it is where it is supposed to be. Every single year, the growth has gotten more and more. When you’re starting a band, your intentions are pure. You simply want to make people happy with the music, and give back to music since music’s given so much to you. I think when you have that kind of approach, music has a way of taking care of you. Because we’re not out to be on magazine covers and be rock stars, all the bullshit. It’s like, “Wow, our heroes made some killer music for us. Can we just do the same for some people?”
Is there another album in the works?
Devon Allman: It’s looking like we’re going to go in in April or May to cut the third record, and it’ll be out in the fall. I just got done with an album with my new band, called Royal Southern Brotherhood. That band is with Cyril Neville from the Neville Brothers, Charlie Wooton from New Orleans and Yonrico Scott from Derek Trucks’ band. It’s a real special album, produced by Jim Gaines. We’re going to keep the experience alive as long as it wants to be alive, and I’ll continue to do both bands. I think it’ll set up the new Honeytribe album real well.
People hear your name, and they think Honeytribe must be a jam band. But your musical well is deeper than that, isn’t it?
Devon Allman: It’s definitely not a rehashed Allman Brothers. It’s very much equal parts rock and soul. I did come up listening to Kiss records, and Stones and Hendrix, and also Curtis Mayfield and Al Green and James Brown. So it’s definitely a mixture of a few different genres. In that approach, I guess there’s a parallel to the Brothers because they were a melting pot, too. I think people come and they’re curious, and they walk away going “Wow, Honetytribe is really its own entity. It rises and falls on its own merits.” I think a lot of people find parallels to what my father and uncle have done, and that’s totally fine. Now, if I was the lead singer of an Allman Brothers tribute band I think we would have some problems. That would be about the most cornball thing that anyone could do.
Please tell me you won’t do that, OK?
Devon Allman: Hell no, brother! At the end of the day I really try to focus my energies on being the best player and singer that I can be. And if that sounds a little bit like Dear Old Dad or my uncle then, hey, I’ll take the compliment. Because I hear that I remind people of all other kinds of artists too.
A–Town Get Down
Devon Allman’s Honeytribe, Passafire, Word of Mouth and others
Where: Charles H. Morris Center, 10 E. Broad St.
When: At 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25
Tickets: $15 at savannahboxoffice.com