Although singer and guitarist Devon Allman won’t admit it, The Royal Southern Brotherhood is a blues-rock supergroup. Allman is indeed the son of Gregg Allman of the legendary Allman Brothers Band, and in addition to fronting RSB on vocals and guitar, he has another group of his own: Devon Allman’s Honeytribe. Also in the band is Cyril Neville of the iconic New Orleans Neville Brothers, as well as award winning blues singer and guitarist Mike Zito.
These talents come together to form a brotherhood of true blues singers and musicians who, despite having formed just over a year ago, have already written and recorded an album, released in May, that was produced by Jim Gaines. The Royal Southern Brotherhood will be making its way to Champaign this Friday as part of the Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival, and buzz got a chance to chat with Devon Allman about this “supergroup’s” collaborative music and what to expect at the show. Catch them at the Miller Beer and WGKC Main Stage from 10:30-12:00 p.m..
» buzz: How did you guys get together?
Devon Allman: Cyril and Mike and myself all have the same manager, and we were sitting around wondering why the Neville Brothers and Allman Brothers never got together. ‘Cause back then a lot of bands would tour together, jam together, and so it was kind of a trip. Our manager Reuben was like, “I have an Allman and Neville, so why don’t we try and see if they could play some music together?” So we did and we tried it out and we wrote a couple songs, and then we took it another step and we jammed a bit, and here we are fifteen months later and it’s just crazy.
» buzz: Can you hear the Allman Brothers and the Neville Brothers in your music? Is the sound sort of hybrid?
DA: I wouldn’t say that it’s a hybrid, but I would say that there’s flourishes of those two families’ music. It’s definitely got its own thing. There’s a lot of blues in there and a lot of R&B, some Rolling Stones feels. It wasn’t like, “Hey, man, let’s make this sound like the Allman Brothers meets the Neville Brothers.” It was, “Let’s write some songs and play some music together.” So if there’s flourishes in there, that’s obviously what would happen, but we just want to make a cool record.
» buzz: So it’s unique?
DA: I think so. We’re not reinventing the wheel by any means. We’re not creating a whole new genre of music, but I think it sounds fresh to people because it’s a merger of these five different people’s musical missions.
» buzz: How is the band’s group dynamic, considering the Royal Southern Brotherhood is a kind of supergroup?
DA: What do you mean? We don’t consider ourselves a supergroup.
» buzz: I’ve seen a lot of people refer to you as that. So you don’t consider yourselves a supergroup?
DA: We really don’t. That’s something I guess for other people to say about us. The aspect that really makes it unique is that not only does every member have another band that they’re in, but they’re the leader of that band. So you literally have five bandleaders in one band. So many times that could just be too many cooks in the kitchen, but in this band, it isn’t. It’s all about the songs. We play the songs.
» buzz: Who writes the songs? Does everybody play a role in that?
DA: Yeah, a majority of this record was me, Cyril and Mike, so that’s the majority of it but it’s a communal thing, for sure.
» buzz: Do you ever play Allman Brothers or Neville Brothers songs?
DA: You have to come to the show and find out. Can’t give away all our tricks now!
» buzz: Speaking about your show, what is it like? Do you guys jam on stage?
DA: Oh yeah, oh yeah! Heavy doses of jamming, a lot of energy brought to the stage. We play pretty much the whole record, and then we throw in a few surprises.
» buzz: What was producing the record with Jim Gaines like?
DA: Amazing. He is just a grand master. He’s a gentleman…he’s just really good at getting down to your essence and getting the best performances out of you. We recorded, I’d say, 75% of the record live, which is not really done a whole bunch these days, and he was very instrumental in giving us confidence to just go in there and bust out song after song.