This show was on our radar dating back to the dog days of August. Because once we caught wind that the Allman Betts Family Revival were heading to St. Charles to play the intimate Arcada Theater, we knew that this gig was a must-see for the American Blues Scene staff.
Billed as a celebration of the music of both Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts, this show also featured an all-star cast of supporting musicians. In addition to Devon Allman and Duane Betts, other big names on the bill included Anders Osborne, Larry McCray, Luther and Cody Dickinson, Jimmy Hall, Jackie Greene, Alex Orbison, Ally Venable, Tal Wilkenfield, Sierra Hull, Chuck Leavell, and Ghalia Volt.
Even though it was the Monday after an extended holiday weekend, the majestic old theater was packed, with the crowd revved up and ready for this sold-out show. The Arcada opened its doors in 1926 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The St. Charles stop was the third one for the Allman Betts Revival tour, which started in St., Louis on November 25th and concluded with an Austin City Limits performance at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas on December 17th.
As for the November 27th show in St. Charles, we’re happy to report that it more than lived up to the hype. Sure, there was an issue with the sound early on, but even that problem turned into a win when Allman announced afterwards that the band had purchased “a s**t ton of deep-dish pizzas” for the patrons and would be hosting a meet and greet to make up for the “little boondoggle.”
When Allman, Betts and company first took the stage, a guy behind me said, “We’ve gotta stand for the band.” And throughout the course of this three-hour marathon of magnificent music and “otherworldly” visuals provided by the Brotherhood of Lights; the Allman Betts Revival had the crowd on its feet.
The show started off by focusing mostly on Gregg Allman tunes with highlights that included Devon Allman leading the all-star cast in a spirited version of “Statesboro Blues.” This was followed by “No One to Run With” that saw Jimmy Hall in fine form on lead vocals after playing a mean harp on “Statesboro Blues.”
Ally Venable came out to handle vocals on “I’m No Angel” followed by Jackie Greene for “Melissa.” It was during this time that the sound issue surfaced so “Melissa” was cut short as the band improvised by calling for an early intermission while the crew worked to fix it.
Once this problem had been rectified, the band came back stronger than ever. Birthday celebrant Greene returned to the stage and treated the crowd to a sweet rendition of “Melissa’ in its entirety. Jeff Beck’s former bass player, Tal Wilkenfield, had a chance to show off her singing chops with a fine version of “Ain’t Wasting Time No More.”
Other memorable moments during the Gregg Allman segment of the show included the Chicago-born, Detroit-based bluesman Larry McCray with a stellar turn on “Soulshine.” “Blue Sky” and “Dreams” were some of the other first set highlights, which featured some great guitar interplay by way of Allman, Betts, Greene and Luther Dickinson.
The second half of this show was dedicated to the music of Dickey Betts and this set was equally fantastic. After alluding to the early intermission, Allman announced that they still had a lot of music left to play. Judging by the collective cheers of the crowd, it seems safe to say that this audience certainly didn’t have a case of the Mondays!
Before launching into “Seven Turns,” Betts recalled his dad hanging out with an old Navajo road man who ran peyote ceremonies in Arizona. The elder Betts considered the Navajo his “spiritual mentor” and penned the song based on that connection.
Fresh off her appearance on the 60 Minutes segment on Clarksdale, Mississippi, Ghalia Volt came out with a bluesy guitar turn that showcased her Delta roots. She was later joined by Jimmy Hall on harp. They were followed by New Orleans’ own Anders Osborne who sang and played guitar on the ever popular “Ramblin’ Man.”
One of the best aspects about this Allman Brothers Revival tour is that it gave many artists the opportunity to showcase their abilities as they put their own unique spin on Allman Brothers classics. This certainly was the case with bluegrass artist Sierra Hull as she turned in a fine version of “Come and Go Blues.”
The final leg of this show featured many of the most iconic selections from the Allman Brothers catalog including “Revival” and “One Way Out” with both songs enticing the crowd to clap along. Wilkenfield opened “Whipping Post” with a killer bass intro before the band began this extended bluesy jam.
After the artists had all had their time to shine individually on stage, Allman announced that they were bringing everybody out for a truly grand finale. As he cajoled the crowd to sing along, the band broke into “Midnight Rider.” After they all had taken their bows at the conclusion of this rich musical collective, we could only hope that the Allman Brothers Revival will ride into our area when they tour again.