By Fred De Vries
I am personally an unabashed “anything ALLMAN BROTHERS related” fan. Forget any pretense. I just straight up lurve the ABB, their music, legend, and the family that continues to perform their music.
AT FILLMORE EAST blew me away when I first heard it. I mean look at that album cover! Listen to those songs! Feel the stage and the heat and the “Mojo”. The pure magical jams. The fierce bluesiness of Gregg Allman’s voice. TWO DRUMMER’s!!!??? A thunderous bass player laying down a foundation you could build a house on And those guitars…Those tones, at the same time both sweet and gritty, soaring slide, dual leads, complementary soul-touching bliss weaving over and around and through melodies and defining “Cool”.
Yeah, they were the “ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND”, and there were two brothers. One played keys, one played guitar, but that “other” guitarist was not then, nor has he ever been, a “second guitar”. To anybody. Ever.
So when I heard DICKEY BETTS was coming out of retirement, I knew I wanted to go see him.
Friends and fishing buddies Duane Dias, John Powell and I talked about going to Macon, Ga. for the tour’s opening show at the MACON CITY AUDITORIUM, a mere 5-hour drive away. That was the original plan, but seeing that we live a 100 miles north of Sarasota, Fl. (SRQ), and being familiar with the “ALLMAN BROS. FAMILY OF BANDS” that mostly all live and play in the area, (Berry Duane Oakley Jr., Thorson Moore, RJ Howson, Duane Betts, Damon Fowler, Twinkle Yoachim and Rock Soul Radio, Mike Kach, Steve Camilleri, Frankie Lombardi, Mark Serios, Pedro Arevelo, Richard “Doc” Burton, Gabe Strange, Mike Fender, Shaun Oakley…did I miss anybody? Lol) and knowing that Mike, Pedro, Duane, Frankie, Steve and Damon had been tapped by Dickey to play with him, and that Dickey is an SRQ resident, I had a “suspicion” that there would be a show added to the tour in the SRQ, closer to home, and easier for a few “old guys” to navigate. I said, “Hang on a sec before we plan a Macon run.”
I was proved correct and the DICKEY BETTS BAND announced a “LIVE PRE-TOUR REHEARSAL” on May 15th at THE WHITE BUFFALO SALOON in SARASOTA. Tickets were bought immediately, hotel reservations were made, and beer bottles clinked as we toasted our luck and our imminent trip to see THE DICKEY BETTS BAND.
Which brings me to the best part of this story.
Scott Pearlman and I have been friends for many years. He’s one of my best friends in, or out, of the business. He’s more than a brother, I consider him family. We met through a mutual friend many moons ago. We have spent many hours talking about bands, tours, and gear. Many hours at shows, doing the “Hang”… We have had many late night phone conversations talking about raising teenage girls and THAT whole dilemma, health issues, spirituality, life, etc. The guy’s not only a great FOH tech, he is a most excellent person in my opinion, and I love him dearly.
So, in one of our phone conversations, regarding a totally different subject, it comes up that he will be in SRQ the week of May 15th. I say, “Really, I’ll be SRQ on the 15th to see Dickey Betts.” Scott replied, “Yeah, I’ll be doing Dickey’s tour. Did you get tickets yet?”
So on May 15th, 2018 I was at a sold out, SRO, Pre-Tour Live Rehearsal of THE DICKEY BETTS BAND grateful to have a “spot to stand” and hang at FOH with my friend Scott and his girl Suzie (who is a Production Wiz and came out with Scott for Dickey), experiencing the “next chapter” of DICKEY BETTS. (Kudo’s BTW to staff at THE WHITE BUFFALO SALOON, sold out at $60.00/Ticket, capacity 1,100. (Probably just a few more “guests” present that evening)…
I remember Scott looking over at me and saying “Why are you looking at me like that Fred?” and me answering “Because this is F^%$ing COOL”! I was just digging the vibe, the players, and the music. Ya Mon. Big smile on this dudes’s face!
The road goes on forever, and I’ve been talking to Scott Pearlman, aka “VINNIE BOOMBATZ” about mixing DICKEY BETTS, Co-Founder of the ALLMAN BROS., ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME MEMBER, GRAMMY AWARD WINNER, widely recognized as one of the greatest rock guitarists ever, and what it means to be part of the continuation of Dickey’s career, and how he does it. I thought I’d share some of our conversations…
Yo Vinnie! How’s the goats, Suzie and Carra Lynn?
Carra and Suzie are fine , looking to get rid of me again =) The goats are doing tricks in the yard.
I’m sure you’re busy advancing show’s. Seems like more shows are being added to Tour? How many shows planned so far?
Yes there are a few runs coming up. Dickey is really getting into being back out playing and we are adding more shows here and there, it won’t be a surprise if I tell you!
(Tour dates can be found here)
You’ve worn two hat’s many times in the past as TM/FOH. Must be kind of nice to have David Spero along as Tour Manager, freeing you up at FOH?
I do wear a lot of hats and this no different, having David out there sure makes things easier and Suzie is doing the production assistant work, which she loves and does extremely well.
Let’s talk about the tour. Give me a run down of crew/who/what you’re carrying with you.
On this tour I am using SOUND IMAGE, Everett and Roz have always been fantastic on getting me what I need, we are using Avid PROFILES at Front of House and Monitor Positions and taking a mic package out with us. MASTER TOUR is the glue for all logistic and day sheets. I use WAVESLIVE. It’s always been a life-saver that it allows me to warm up things and create a warm, tight, yet free-flowing “ALLMAN BROTHERS” jam-type sound. Great compression, effects, and EQ tools. We use CUBE PASSES, RN COACH and DAVE CLEMENT .
Scott, from spending time in the SRQ area, which is like the “San Francisco of the South”, I know a lot of players eschew effects pedals or at least keep them to a minimal. There’s a school of thought that’s almost a religion that “Tone comes from your fingers”. Have you noticed that?
Yeah, Our guys all control their volume, tones, and instruments quite well.Dickey uses one stompbox pedal I think? But the rest is instruments, amps, and hands!
As for miking technique, I like to close mic everything so I can zero in on the instruments. We are using SENNHEISER e 609s on all guitars, SHURE Beta 98s on drums, SHURE SM 57s and SHURE KSM 32s on all overheads and percussion. We are currently discussing some other mic options as we speak.
The main challenge is stage volume with three guitarists, two drummers, a bass player and keyboards. Plus any “Guest” mixes. There are are no in-ear mixes, so we have a lot of wedges and guitar amps onstage which makes me have to wrangle it in and control seepage. Luckily I have great techs who can help me out , MICKY FINLAY, who has worked with everyone including DAVID GILMOUR, GARY MOORE, U2 and PRINCE among others, and JEFF PELIZZARI who has worked with many people, including John Fogerty, SCOTT BEARDON, who worked with me in MOLLY HATCHETT and other projects, andBruce Pendleton who has worked with Papa Roach among many others.
I have a very strong team of people who care about Dickey and this project. I am extremely honored and grateful to be a part of what Dickey has done and continues to do musically. Everyone involved with him holds a deep reverence for his Music and his accomplishments and just wants the very best for him on and off the stage.
How was the Macon, Ga. show? Any Room Acoustic issues?
Macon was great , it has a large dome but as long as you don’t fight the room it turns out fine .It also helped that it was completely sold out and had a nice Meyer rig!
You’ve had a long and illustrious career of your own, Mixing many great Guitarists including STEVE VAI, ZAKK WYLDE, STEVE CROPPER, DAVE HLUBEK, what does it mean to you to be a part of the DICKEY BETTS legacy continuing, the almost “un-veiling” of DUANE BETTS as “heir apparent” along with DEVON ALLMAN who is opening a lot of dates on this tour?
I have been very lucky to have worked with some amazing guitar players and all were very gracious and dedicated Musicians. DICKEY is a legend , I grew up seeing the ALLMAN BROTHER’S every summer on the Cape in Boston and those show’s are a part of my history. I want the best for DICKEY and I want him to be comfortable. He has a knack for amazing leads and plays with incredible feel of his instrument.
Duane Betts plays a lot like his Dad and is a hidden gem. Devon Allman is great as well and does his own thing musically. The “DEVON ALLMAN PROJECT” with Devon and Duane is opening quite a few shows for us.
You’ve always been gracious and “cool under pressure” at FOH. When I got to the FOH Position in Sarasota, there was a young man who was asking you a lot of questions. He was just getting into mixing live audio. Five minutes before show, and you took the time to answer his questions and invited him to hang around FOH to watch, ask questions and learn. That was very groovy of you. What advice, life lessons, wisdom, do you have that you’d impart on anyone who wants to be in the Business of Live Audio?
Well thank you! I have had great mentors and peers who have been gracious to me and very giving ,POOCH, TOBY FRANCIS, GREG PRICE, (OZZY OSBOURNE FOH), FRANK SGAMBELLONE, and BUFORD JONES. I have learned a great deal of their grace under pressure, (or lack of pressure). Look, we all get nervous and we want to be on our game in this business. The keys are having great people around you, good gear,and utilizing your knowledge. Use what you’ve learned and keep learning! My days are very long but the 90 minutes or so at the desk makes it all worthwhile!
Scott went on to mix Dickey at the Beacon Theater, NY,. St. George’s Theater, Staten Island, NY.,The Peach Fest in Scranton, Pa., and The Great South Bay Music Festival, Patchogue, NY. this run. All shows had excellent reviews audio-wise, and I hear there is a live CD/DVD in the works. Get out and catch up with him and Suzie and the Dickey Betts family! If I’m lucky, I might be the guy standing next to Scott kicking his foot listening to his mix with a big ass smile on my face!
Stage set up video Thanks to Steve Camilleri!