Words by: Aaron Lafont
Devon Allman's Honeytribe :: 09.12.07 :: Varsity Theatre :: Baton Rouge, LA
Hot, rainy nights on the Mississippi Delta were made for one thing – the blues. This was the scene outside of Baton Rouge's Varsity Theatre, where a small crowd of Louisiana faithful gathered to partake in Devon Allman and Honeytribe's best. With a familiar rasp, a howl all his own and a fiery guitar hand, Allman fronts a band whose energy, talent and zeal combine to form an original blues-rock experience that's bound to turn heads wherever they show up. It's been 23 consecutive months on the road for the Honeytribe, who've been earning their stripes in much the same way the elder Allman Brothers Band once paved their way into rock n' roll immortality.
| Devon Allman's Honeytribe|
Warming the stage for Honeytribe were Fort Collins, Colorado's Green Lemon, whose heavy psychedelic stylings and penchant for dense, instrumental jams have them poised to fill late night slots on the festival circuit in the near future.
With the crowd energized and the evening's storm settling into the background, Honeytribe humbly took the stage and launched into the jazzy, instrumental "Mahalo" (Hawaiian for "Thank You"). Showing no signs of road weariness, they fell right into its rich, guitar driven groove as keyboardist Jack Kirkner weaved into and out of Allman's melodic riffs, which rung home atop the track's up-tempo, syncopated foundation. Next, they showcased their blues chops giving spirited renditions of Junior Wells' "Checking On My Baby" and B.B. King's "Sweet Little Angel."
After announcing that it was Kirkner's birthday, Allman, clearly comfortable in front of a crowd, smiled and without hesitation responded, "You got it," to a fan that yelled for "Perfect World" from Honeytribe's debut album, Torch. They tore through the tune with Allman's howling vibrato steering the hard blues ride into a rocking "Mercy, Mercy," also from Torch. Following a slight pause, Kirkner's B3 eased into the Bob Marley classic "No Woman, No Cry," which took on a new shape as Kirkner's melody lines met Allman's wah-drenched solos.
| Devon Allman's Honeytribe|
Midway through the Double Trouble-esque "Why You Wanna Bring Me Down," the band soloed themselves off the stage until bassist George Potsos stood alone to deliver a filthy extended solo complete with slapping, popping and tapping between bouts of playing behind his head. Soon, drummer Mark Oyarzabal joined in, and once Kirkner made his way to back onto the stage the three-piece struck into a tease of Rush's "Tom Sawyer." With Allman back in the fold, they made their way into the Allman Brothers Band's "Jessica" before winding back to "Why You Wanna Bring Me Down." After taking it down a notch with the balladry of "When I Call Home," Honeytribe struck right back into the blues with the heavy "Heaven Has No Mercy," whose outro delivered the surprise of the night – a sweeping version of Prince's "Purple Rain." Appearing just as surprised with the cover choice as the audience, the lively quartet closed with the boisterous shuffle "Nothing To Be Sad About."
Allman reappeared shortly thereafter, alone for the encore and dedicated "511 Texas Avenue" - a compelling instrumental reminiscent of ABB's "Little Martha" - to his grandparents. Kirkner returned to join Allman for a chilling version of the ABB's "Melissa," which Allman introduced saying, "This is a song that we don't usually do because there's another band doing this one on the road right now – very well. This is actually the second time we're going to play it since we started touring two years ago, but we're going to break it out for you guys tonight."
Next, Potsos and Oyarzabal rejoined their mates for a virtual encyclopedia of classic rock anthems. They began with Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" before latching onto Pink Floyd's "Money," whose raucous bass groove flowed seamlessly into the power blues of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." That tapped into Van Halen's "Eruption" en route to Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" prior to stopping in on the folk staple "House of the Rising Sun" done like The Animals' hit version. This led into the Chili Pepper's rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" and a case of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" before planting their roots down firmly into the ABB's "One Way Out." Whew!
| Devon Allman's Honeytribe by Josh Mintz|
Delivering an exciting, eclectic set, Devon Allman's Honeytribe showed once again why they have been winning fans all across the country. Before packing up their gear and heading to the next gig, the band spent the rest of the night meeting, mingling and drinking with their fans - no VIP required.
Expect a big 2008 from Honeytribe. After finishing up the year in Europe, they'll return Stateside to take refuge at Miami's famed Criteria Studios (yes, the studio where Derek and the Dominos logged Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs) to record the follow-up to Torch.
JamBase | Baton Rouge
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