Interview by Scott Preston
Word has finally got around that Honeytribe is much, much more than just a band with a singer /guitarist of famous heritage. It was an idea.. a feel..a band with serious musicians who simply want to see good music live on and were willing to tour their asses off to serve it up worldwide.
Now in 2009, a trio has emerged. A power trio. With monster world class bassist George Potsos and new drummer Gabriel Strange , this 3 headed beast has been born. High energy , grooving , bluesy , ass-kickin rock and roll the old school way.
“We ran the ‘Tribe format into the ground ! It’s not OVER by any means but after almost 300 shows a year for 3 years , I just really wanted to do something different. We’ll still play some Tribal songs but I can’t wait to find out what a power trio feels like and work some brand new material …we’ll do a few months of touring in America and see how we dig it” — Devon Allman interview October 2008 Detroit , Michigan.
Cincy Groove: What have been some of the highlights for The Honey Tribe in the past year?
Devon Allman: Its really hard to condense a whole year down. We have been running pretty strong, right at about 300 shows a year for the past 3 years and 44 states and 12 countries. This has been a sort of transitional year as well. Midyear I got sober which has been a wonderful beautiful thing. I changed some band members and changed what would be normal for an after show. One of the highlights was when we opened for my dad (Greg Allman). Which is always cool because we do this father/son tour after Christmas almost every year. Its a good chance for me to get to hang out with him. Because 3 years ago I officially became busier than him (laughing).
I really have been grasping on to a new beautiful life. I never really was a drug guy, I liked to party it up with some shots after the show instead. I was a late bloomer and didn’t start drinking until I was 28. I figured if I kept doing this for another 3 years there will be a problem. So I should just quit while I’m ahead. Its probably the best thing I have ever did.
Cincy Groove: When did Honey Tribe first get together?
Devon Allman: I started the band in 1999, so this is our 10th anniversary year. I ran the band from 1999 until 2001 when my son was born. I then decided that I was not going to tour anymore. I wanted to stay home and build a foundation with my kid. I still played, but just did solo acoustic gigs around town. I decided to revisit touring maybe when he was about 5 so he could realize what I do. In the beginning of 2005 I called everybody up and said “I’m ready to do this again” and sure enough everybody jumped back in. We didn’t really start touring out and making records until 05 , 06.
Cincy Groove: What did your mom think when you decided you wanted to be a musician?
Devon Allman: You know, moms are so completely in tune to things like that. They are on the outside looking in on their child going through junior high and high school and having a love affair with the music of Jimi Hendrix and music in general. I don’t think it really surprised her very much. She was very supportive, she just wanted me to do my own thing.
Cincy Groove: Whats the status of the new record?
Devon Allman: We probably should have had it out 6 months ago, but we just kept touring and touring. There was always a new place to play and new run of dates. Just this past Sunday we got back from tour and we are taking 7 weeks off. We are going to write up the rest of the record and demo out some tunes. I would love to get it out by July at the earliest.
Cincy Groove: You seem to tour quite a few times through Ohio.
Devon Allman: Ohio has been a great state for us. We were supposed to play a show at Canal St Tavern in Dayton not to long ago except it got canceled because of the freak ass weather. Plus I was sick on top of that, so it worked out. But we plan on rescheduling the show for the spring. We are playing a show in Columbus, OH with ekoostik hookah on March 14 at The Newport Music Hall. We are really looking forward to that one. We played with them at Nelsons Ledges, great bunch of guys.
Cincy Groove: Does your son show any interest in music?
Devon Allman: He just turned 9 and about 6 month ago I told him that you know you play plenty of sports and that’s cool, I did it myself. But you really need to pick an instrument and it has nothing to do with the family business. He ended up picking the piano, which I thought was really cool just like grandpa. About 2 months ago his teacher who is a jazz pianist from New York City, pulled me aside and said “I just want you to know that Orion is the most naturally gifted child student I have ever had”. At the end of the day if he continues the family business that’s awesome, but if he becomes a doctor that’s cool too. I found music on my own, not growing up in the middle of the rock and roll lifestyle. So if he wants to do it, he should find music on his own as well.
Cincy Groove: How did you decide on “Midnight Rider” as the song you would do on the “A Song For Our Father” compilation cd you were on?
Devon Allman: That project was already done actually when I got involved. My lawyer is the next door neighbor to the guy who was spearheading the project. As soon as he heard about the project, he told the guy that one of his clients is Greg Allman’s son and that he would be perfect for the cd. The guy ended up calling me and asked what song I was thinking about doing. I thought back to my earliest years and can remember listening to music at the age of 4 or 5. Something would come on the radio and I would always ask my mom who it was. She would say “That’s John Lennon” or “That’s Styx”. One time Midnight Rider came on, and I asked her “Mom who’s that?” and she said “That’s your dad” (laughing). I thought it was kind of neat to choose that song and come full circle. I think its one of those timeless tunes and will always have a place in my heart.
Cincy Groove: What was it like for you when you first started playing out?
Devon Allman: In the beginning a lot of the people coming out were curious Allman Bros fans. I need to be cool with that, but at the same time not plan my career around it. This is a band that did grow up on Santana, BB King, Rolling Stones and The Allman Bros are in that mix as well. We would typically end our shows with One Way Out. Its an old Sonny Blue Williamson tune that the brothers used to do as well. I felt that was okay to do, not like we were going out there throwing out Whipping Post or Liz Reed. After we did the Songs for my Father cd, it took about 6 months before we starting putting Midnight Rider in the set. So out of roughly 18 songs you get 2 Allman Bros tunes with a whole new contemporary take on them. I think its good, because for the people who come out that support my family it gives them a couple nuggets to sink their teeth into.
Cincy Groove: Is there anything you like to do outside of music?
Devon Allman: I’m way into going to art museums. I really like the dutch masters, 19th – 20th century European painters. I tour Europe a lot so luckily I get to go to a lot of cool places. I just went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City recently. Its really great to find these sober things to do that give me a natural high. I’m also hooked on the tv show Lost. I watch it all the time. I have been so completely involved with music over the last 5 years it hasn’t left time for much else. Obviously when I come home, I do dad stuff, miniature golf, throw football, go to the Science Center.
Upcoming Devon Allman & Honey Tribe tour dates:
for show details visit http://www.myspace.com/honeytribe
Feb 6 2009 The Shanti / Devon solo acoustic Saint Louis
Feb 20 2009 Cicero’s Saint Louis, Missouri
March 14, 2009 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH opening for ekoostik hookah