Dickey Betts & Great Southern
These are the best of times for Dickey Betts. After being nominated for a Grammy in 2001, the co-founder of one of America’s most beloved musical groups has continued to create some of his finest music since leaving the Allman Brothers Band. As the man behind The Allman Brothers Band’s greatest musical triumphs such as “Ramblin’ Man,” “Blue Sky,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Southbound,” and “Jessica,” Betts has continued his path as an innovator in Americana Music with his new release entitled, The Collectors #1. Reunited with original Great Southern and one-time Allman Brothers Band partner “Dangerous” Dan Toler, Betts explores a more traditional music approach, recording an all-acoustic record featuring his 6-piece band along with some musical guests. The Collectors #1 finds the Rock “n” Roll Hall of Fame guitarist mining such American music genres as jazz, western swing, blues, Celtic, and some good ole rock n’ roll.
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Born in West Palm Beach, FL, Betts’ early musical career included tenure in such bands as The Jokers and The Second Coming which would also include future ABB bassist Berry Oakley. When slide guitarist Duane Allman, who at the time was an established Muscle Shoals studio musician, was offered a record deal he convened Betts and Oakley from The Second Coming, along with his younger brother Gregg, in what would become The Allman Brothers Band. The groups’ bluesy sound featured the thrilling twin guitar duels between Duane Allman and Dickey Betts on such Betts penned instrumentals as “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” that was featured on that band’s landmark recording, Live At Fillmore East. Following the death of Duane Allman, and later Berry Oakley, the band would reach its zenith primarily due to Dickey Betts penned chart topping songs; “Ramblin’ Man,” “Jessica”, and “Blue Sky.” In 1974, Betts continued to push the musical envelope releasing his classic country-rock album Highway Call. The album found the inventive guitarist exploring western swing and country-tinged acoustic music with a band that included fiddle wizard Vassar Clements and fellow Allman Brother and future Rolling Stones pianist Chuck Leavell. In 1976, Betts continued in a more blues-rock vein forming Great Southern. Great Southern paired Betts with fellow guitarist Dan Toler and the group’s two albums remain a standout in Dickey Betts’ storied career. It would be nearly 12 years before he would release another solo album, however, 1988’s Pattern Disruptive recorded under the Dickey Betts Band moniker proved to be well worth the wait. Significantly road-tested, The Dickey Betts Band featured future Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, and Phil Lesh & Friends guitarist Warren Haynes on guitar, future Allman Brother, keyboardist Johnny Neel, and Gov’t Mule drummer Matt Abts. The record included the hit single “Rock Bottom,” and showcased one of Betts’ best-remembered instrumentals, “Duane’s Tune.”
Following his split from the Allman Brothers Band in 2001, Dickey Betts headed into the studio to record the highly acclaimed Lets Get Together. Joining Betts in the studio would be guitarist Mark May and the nucleus of what would later become the second incarnation of Great Southern: bassist Dave Stoltz, drummers: Matt Greenburg and Frankie Lombardi, saxophone ace Kris Jensen, and keyboardist Matt Zeiner. The CD included a plethora of new Dickey Betts classics such as “Rave On,” “Tombstone Eyes,” “Donna Maria, “ and the instrumental odyssey, “One Stop Be-Bop.”
Dickey Betts & Great Southern have honed their considerable musical skills through a relentless touring schedule that have included live concert appearances with the Charlie Daniels Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Weir and Rat dog, and Phil Lesh & Friends. The Collectors #1 finds Dickey Betts in fantastic spirits and rich musical company as the guitarist has brought back his old musical partner Dan Toler and Betts’ original guitar mentor Dave Liles, along with harmonica ace, T.C. Carr and fiddler Lenny Ski. The record is as real as it gets as the musicians mix it up quite a bit with no overdubbing. Dickey Betts explains: “When you listen to it and you hear three guitar parts, there are really three guys playing guitars,” adding, “it really isn’t a dressed up, overproduced record-it just sounds big.” Listening to The Collectors #1 brings about a wide array of emotions with playing that flows freely from the haunting Gaelic-tinged “Beyond The Pale,” through rollicking western swing “Georgia on a Fast Train,” and "One Stop Bebop #2,” to the earthy Robert Johnson delta blues: “Steady Rollin’ Man.” Dickey Betts fans will enjoy his interpretations of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue,” and familiar favorites, “Seven Turns #3,” and “Change My Way of Living’#2.” Throughout The Collectors #1, the multi faceted guitarist displays his considerable skill delivering the musical goods and has at long last found a band that is equally up to the task. Feel free to take the ride- you’ll be glad that you did!
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