The Allman Betts Band have signed a new global recording agreement with BMG to release their forthcoming debut album Down To The River. Led by Devon Allman, son of founding Allman Brothers Band keyboardist and singer, Gregg Allman, and Duane Betts, son of founding Allman Brothers Band guitarist and singer, Dickey Betts, the album was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios with producer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Prine and Elvis Presley). Down To The River is slated for release this June.
After a successful year of touring, the sons of Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts officially joined forces to form a new group together. Their first call was to old friend Berry Oakley Jr., son of the Allman Brothers Band’s founding late bassist, Berry Oakley, and floated the idea of joining them. The trio’s musical friendship traces back to The Allman Brothers Band’s 20th anniversary summer tour in 1989 when the three first met, and often sat-in with the Rock-And-Roll Hall of Fame inductee. In November of 2018, they announced the formation of The Allman Betts Band.
Welcoming producer Matt Ross-Spang the band recorded their sessions at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. They brought in Gregg’s former bandmate, Peter Levin, and former Allman Brother Chuck Leavell as guests, adding organ and piano, and recruited seasoned players from the Project ensemble: slide guitarist Johnny Stachela, drummer John Lum, and percussionist R Scott Bryan (Sheryl Crow). Motivated by classic recording techniques and vintage gear in the historic Alabama studio, they cut the album live. No computers. No digital editing. Setting-up as one in the studio, they tracked nine songs on two-inch analog tape, resulting in their debut album.
The Allman Betts Band will kick off their inaugural tour later this month in New York City. Led by Devon Allman and Duane Betts, the group exapnded their debut jaunt and revealed their new album, Down To The River is due this summer.
Devon and Duane are joined in the band by Berry Oakley Jr. on bass, Johnny Stachela on guitar, John Ginty on keys, R. Scott Bryan on percussion and John Lum on drums. The Allman Betts Band opens the lengthy tour at Brooklyn Bowl in New York City on March 27.
Gov’t Mule concluded this year’s Island Exodus event in Runaway Bay, Jamaica with two sets and two encores on Wednesday. The whole show was filled with rarities and the second stanza contained a bevy of guest appearances.
The quartet went at it alone for a version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Effigy” that segued into jams on “Folsom Prison Blues” and “St. Stephen.” Holloway then returned along with Devon Allman for Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” The final set of the destination event ended with a cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Jessica” featuring Duane Betts and R. Scott Bryan. For the first encore, Mule served up “32/20 Blues” featuring Holloway, Bryan and guitarist Johnny Stachela and a bevy of teases. The four-piece came back for a second encore of Pearl Jam’s “Come Back” and Grand Funk Railroad’s “Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother.”
Handle It – EP
by Johnny Stachela Band
Digital Album Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high quality download in MP3, FLAC, & more. Buy Now $5 USD
1. Handle It
3. Weight Of Your World
4. Automatic Pistol
released June 17, 2016
Sebastian Ciceri – Bass, Vocals
Vincent Fossett. Jr. – Drums
Produced and Mixed by Jorgen Carlsson
Engineered and Mastered by Steve Holroyd
Recorded at Rogers Boat Studio
All songs written by Johnny Stachela
“Handle It” and “Weight Of Your World” co-written by Stoll Vaughan
Johnny Stachela and perseverance know each other very well. They would have to for the Panorama City, Calif., native to grow up in the San Fernando Valley and emerge a success. In the shadow of the Sunset Strip, mere miles from the heartbeat of the music industry, Stachela was surrounded; circled by the aspirations of every new guitar player fresh off the bus from Anywhere, USA, and the cynicism of the defeated, languishing in day jobs after the stage lights went dark on their dreams. Love it or leave it, Stachela was bounded by dreams and defeats.
Music began as a curiosity, then became everything. As a toddler, he delighted in spreading out his father’s AC/DC vinyl on the floor, wielding an air guitar, imagining Angus Young. At 12, he was gifted his first electric- a Kramer Striker- and learned the licks of the late-‘80s echelon of rock like Van Halen and Guns N’ Roses. This was the zenith of hair metal and these were the local-boys-made-good.
But, Stachela felt drawn to an older muse, one originating decades before and thousands of miles away. He prized heavy metal progenitors Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and AC/DC, but he dug into the core of those bands and found something deeper, more affecting. He watched a middling, ‘80s movie, Crossroads- the tale of a young guitarist in search of a lost song.
“That flipped a switch for me,” says Stachela. “And I went looking.”
Inspired by the Ry Cooder soundtrack, and a storyline echoing Robert Johnson’s mythological deal with the devil, Stachela found the blues.
“The blues to me has always been about the feeling. And that’s what I loved about it. The blues is honest. It’s life. It’s so real. When it hits, all the other bullshit just fades away.”
Stachela devoured it all; turned on to the three Kings- B.B., Albert, and Freddie- and their post-war electric blues brethren, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Elmore James. He played blues gigs around the city- a somewhat antiquated notion in ‘90s L.A.- and found a wellspring of inspiration in the descendant shapers of the genre from the American South like The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. He had the energy, the desire, and the determination, but the results were more a trickle than a torrent.
There were some “moments,” some firsts, no doubt, as he consistently gained respect as a guitarist, like recording and touring with Leroy Powell (Shooter Jennings, Sturgill Simpson). Still, the Cal State Northridge grad felt a little lost, at his own crossroads. 9-to-5 and “After Midnight” couldn’t co-exist much longer. In the early 2010s, Stachela cut ties with the shirt-and-tie world.
He added his singing voice to his arsenal, and by mid-decade, he’d cultivated a working relationship with Gov’t Mule bassist Jorgen Carlsson- recording at Carlsson’s studio a 2015 solo EP debut, Walk Through Fire, then enlisting him as a producer on the next year’s follow-up, Handle It, from his Johnny Stachela Band. The group held a year-long residency at the venerable Santa Monica blues club, Harvelles, sharing sets with longtime friend, guitarist and singer Duane Betts. By 2017, Duane Betts and the Pistoleers materialized out of an oft-discussed desire to form a band.
Stachela’s career to that point held its share of heady experiences. He’d recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin), and warmed up stages for guitar legends like Duane’s father, Dickey Betts, as well as Robbie Krieger, and Mike Campbell, among others. This was different. This was the music he wanted to play, with a friend and talent he respected, and a history he revered. This was the dream.
With Carlsson and Gov’t Mule’s drummer Matt Abts, Stachela and Betts performed a one-off, July 4th weekend show on the Santa Monica Pier as Bando. They played sold-out shows with North Mississippi Allstars at the Roxy in Hollywood and an opening set for Devon Allman Project at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
In 2018, Stachela and Betts partnered with the Devon Allman Project as guests, supporting and sitting-in on a nine-month Allman/Betts World Tour, with stops at such iconic venues as the Beacon Theatre in New York City, Tipitina’s in New Orleans, and Colorado’s Red Rocks amphitheater. The European leg saw Stachela in Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, UK and Germany. Additionally, he performed on the second single, “Downtown Runaround,” and subsequent video from Bett’s debut EP, Sketches of American Music.
Stachela recorded a session at the famed Muscle Shoals studio in late 2018 for what would become the debut album of the newly formed Allman Betts Band, with a world tour and record’s release set for spring of 2019.
Brandishing his Gibson SG- a trademark of the late Allman Brothers Band guitarist Duane Allman- and a Fender amp tracing its lineage back to Bonnie Raitt, Stachela has found that magical tonal connection between the celebrated legacy of the past and his pursuit of modern blues. His bottleneck slide work has evoked favorable comparisons to his heroes, influenced and inspired, never imitating. And as 2019 promises to be even more eventful, the well-earned pay-off for Johnny Stachela and his 20 years of perseverance is just beginning.