Devon Allman brought a unique flavor to his performance at Reggie’s on Saturday night in Chicago. Promoting the show as “A Dinner Show with Devon Allman”, people attending not only enjoyed a ninety minute set of music by the Devon Allman Band, but also cleansed their satisfied palate’s with a complimentary Hennessey Cognac and Ginger Beer on the rocks after dinner drink sampling, as well as the additional treat of hearing long time Chicagoan Billy Branch sit in for about half of the set, adding some frosting to the cake as a solid complement to Devon’s trio with his magnificent Blues harmonica. Filling out Devon’s threesome found Bobby Schneck Jr. on Guitar, and Anthony Nanny on Drums and Percussion.
This was my first visit to Reggie’s, located at 2105 S. State St., just off the Northeast corner of State and Cermak. Greeted warmly at the door by Club Production Coordinator Dave Katzman, I was given an overview of a series of Blues shows that Mr. Katzman is booking at the club. Previous appearances by some of Chicago Blues fans favorite artists have included Kenny Neal and Magic Slim. The layout of the room is very reminiscent of that of Blues on Halstead, albeit a little larger. There is also a 400 person capacity theater that offers a wide range of Musical Genre’s as well. For more information on upcoming shows, go to: www.reggieslive.com . Also adjoined to the club is something called “a Record Store”. In my best Steve Stone voice: “for all you youngsters out there, a record is a collection of recorded of music that is pressed on vinyl. It contains music on not one, but both sides of the LP (Long Play) disc, which are usually 12 inches in diameter, and are played on something known as a turn table”. The Cermak Redline stop is located a block away.
The evening started with a sit down dinner comprised of a couple of Devon’s favorite dishes. The entrée choices included either Italian “Daddy” steaks, the name coming from his son’s constant request for Devon to make them for dinner at home over the past eight years, or Cuban Mojo Chicken Tacos, a dish no doubt influenced by Devon’s lovely girl friend, who is of Cuban descent. The sides were Southern Sweet Potatoes and Mexican Corn. It was a family affair Saturday, as Devon’s girl friend and kids made the trip up from St Louis with him, pitching in to handle sales at the souvenir table, which included offering bottles of Devon’s “Chipotle Blues Hot Sauce” for sale, a product Devon is marketing. I asked Devon’s girl friend if there was a specific dish that he had in mind for the creation of the hot sauce. Her first response was that he likes to put some on his scrambled eggs, so guess what I had for breakfast on Sunday morning? That’s right, scrambled eggs with green pepper, red onions and a healthy dousing of Devon’s Chipotle Blues Hot Sauce. Very tasty. I could immediately feel the zip on my lips. Never prone to put sauce on my eggs in the past (I’ve always shunned the notion of putting ketchup on eggs. To paraphrase Clint, “Nobody but nobody puts ketchup on eggs”. But that’s just me.) I liked the South Eastern style Vinegar and Lime Juice base for this application much better than I would care for a tomato based barbeque sauce on eggs. I’ll leave that for my chicken or ribs barbequing in the evening, although I’m sure his hot sauce will be good on those options as well. For those interested in checking it out, and supporting a Hot Sauce entrepreneur, more information can be found on the Born to Hula website at: http://www.borntohula.com.
Roots Duo Joe Felisko and Eric Noden started the music portion of the evening with a sixty minute set of their traditional Southern Blues style of Harmonica and Guitar playing and vocals. Then, as Devon’s set began, the cuisine “encore” was served to everyone in attendance. Fried Banana’s with Vanilla Ice Cream covered in a Hennessey Cognac Carmel Glaze were handed out to anyone interested in giving it a try. I did. It was delicious. Hennessey was a sponsor of the nights festivities.
Devon’s performance included several songs from his upcoming release “Turquoise” on the Ruf Records label, which will be available on February 12th. His first solo effort, ten of the eleven tracks on the CD were written by Devon. The one exception being a cover of the Tom Petty written “Stop Draggin My Heart Around”. It can be risky to cover a song of this popularity, one we’ve all heard hundreds of times on the radio. However, Samantha Fish’ vocals on this version bring a welcome freshness to the song. Taking nothing away from the wonderful Stevie Nicks, Fish brings a crisp articulation to the lyrics that more than once had me thinking to myself “Oh, that’s what that line is”. The core of the studio trio on the disc consists of Myles Weeks on Bass, and long time Derek Trucks Band Drummer and mentor to young Derek, Yonrico Scott. Guest appearances on the disc include North Mississippi Allstars Guitarist Luther Dickenson, Rick Steff, the afore mentioned Samantha Fish, veteran Jazz and Blues Saxophonist extraordinaire Ron Holloway, as well as Bobby Schneck Jr., who, as mentioned, performed with Devon tonight. Bobby brings a tight, soulful sound beyond his years for a young man in his early twenties.
My personal favorites that were performed from the new disc were “When I Left Home” and “Turn off the World”. Paying tribute to his father Gregg Allman, Devon performed two songs written by the elder Allman, a sweet version of “Mellissa” and “One Way out”. A rocking ten minute version of the classic Bob Dylan song “All Along the Watch Tower” found Allman and Billy Branch trading musical barbs back and forth, driving the crowd of approximately 140 people into a frenzy. Smiles were the norm throughout the room at the end of the show, and the always gregarious Allman made time to visit with anyone interested in saying hello. It truly was a Devon Allman family affair Saturday at Reggie’s. And a most enjoyable one at that.
Reviewed by Patrick Kinsella on 1/26/13
Photo by Kevin Tighe