Dickey BETTS
Ramblin' Man: Live at the St. George Theatre (2019)

We remember that the Dickey Betts' 2018 US tour had been complicated with several canceled dates, and the guitarist, who returned on stage after several years of complete break had the marked features and appeared aged. Moreover, the number of guitarists accompanying him (his son Duane, the excellent Damon Fowler and Devon Allman as a guest) demonstrated that our man needed support and that he could no longer play as he did in his heyday. Betts' intention was laudable. A tribute tour to his enemy brother Gregg Allman who disappeared on May 27, 2017. The proposed songs, "Hot’Lanta", »Blue Sky», «Midnight Rider», "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed", "Whipping Post", "Ramblin 'Man", "Jessica" are all Allman classics and almost all of Betts' compositions during his very fruitful ABB period. I have always considered Dickey Betts to be a huge guitarist, however, it is clear that, on this recording, he struggles visibly. The tempos on "Jessica" and "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed" are slowed down, to allow him to follow, and his voice is tired and veiled sometimes bordering on the false. What a difference with Devon Allman and his powerful voice, his spirited playing on "Midnight Rider". From time to time we find a sentence, a flash that confirms that Dickey is a huge guitarist, a pioneer, but when Damon Fowler and Devon Allman take alternately the lead on "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed" after a sumptuous passage to the keyboards of Mike Kach, we find ourselves before an evidence, a handover, to a younger generation who perfectly takes on the heritage. Be careful, Dickey is doing the job, he has half a century of experience behind him, he has played and replayed his songs so he manages to make sure, to look good, and his playing remains far superior to hundreds of imitators. But he no longer has the punch, we feel that he is trying but his playing lacks power, in "Hot Lanta" or "Blue Sky". He is seventy-five years old, and a rather hectic life, a long journey with drugs so it is a little logical that he begins to lower pace (listen at random, Clapton, Mick Taylor, Keith Richards it's good worst). This tour will probably and unfortunately be the last, and since then his son Duane and Devon Allman have starred in the Allman Betts Band which continues the magic of the Allman Brothers. Swansong of a legend of "Southern-rock", of an extraordinary guitarist, who wrote the most beautiful pages of this music, who wrote hymns which will remain, Dickey Betts will certainly no longer perform in as part of a tour, but still certainly on rare occasions for unique concerts. So hats off about what seems to be his last hurrah.

Michel Bertelle


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