By Kerry Heffernan
You know that old saying "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree"? In the case of Devon Allman's Honeytribe, we should all thank our lucky stars that this adage holds true. Son of southern rock legend Gregg Allman, Devon and his Honeytribe produces a sound with southern rock flair with hints of dear old dad's band, though not in an overpowering way. Where the Allman Brothers are inherently blues-based, Honeytribe is much more straight-up rock-n-roll. Comprised of Devon Allman (vocals, guitars), George Potsos (bass), Mark Oyarzabal (drums, vocals) and Jack Kirkner (keys), Honeytribe has shared the stage with Gov''t Mule, The Disco Biscuits and of course, the Allman Brothers Band, and seems poised to become a new staple figure in the world of southern jam rock.
While Honeytribe's sound is fairly unique, there are a couple of instances where missing the influences is nearly impossible. The opening track, "Torch," is a gritty "Wasted Words" or a fast-tempo "Can't Lose What You Never Had." The song's raucous energy sort of kicks you in the you know what's. A blazing guitar riff opens things, soon followed by Allman's soulful vocals. Oyarzabal's deep, pulsating, waterfall-like drum line is heard in the background of this grandiose track.
Another song that reeks of Allman Brothers Band influence is "Mahalo." This beautiful instrumental showcases the high musicianship of this band. Their rendition of an instrumental classic like "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" mixes rock-n-roll edge with island flair. It starts a little spacey, with a pulsating drum line and an echoing organ, then guitar takes full control and becomes the real star of this tune.
The Allman's influence ends after the second song. Honeytribe is finding their own place in the jam world. No other song proves this point better than the completely unexpected rendition of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry." Maybe I am the only one who thinks so, but I just can't see the Brothers busting this one out at a show. Now, while the song does leave a little to be desired - it kind of sounds like something a wedding band would play – you have to give the guys in Honeytribe the credit for even attempting such a thing. Covering Bob Marley is like covering Pink Floyd - most don't attempt it because it's too difficult to get right. While Honeytribe doesn't exactly nail it, they certainly put up a valiant effort.
The final cut, "Nothing To Be Sad About," is another prime example of Honeytribe's break from the Brothers' influence. The jive number is poppy jump blues straight out of the 1950s. Although the Allman Brothers' music is steeped in blues, I've never heard them play anything like this. You can almost envision an old beach scene from those Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello movies where everyone is dancing the shag on a sandy beach.
Honeytribe is a veritable cornucopia of styles. With talented backing musicians and the musical prowess to forge his own sound, Devon Allman has certainly let the world know that he is perfectly capable of holding his own.
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