Devon’s last go around with Royal Southern Brotherhood includes Lake Tahoe
Devon Allman sang the penultimate song of Jan. 29 concert in the Crystal Bay Casino, “One Way Out,” which was famously recorded with his father, Gregg, on vocals and uncle Duane on slide guitar.
While the singer in the song can’t go out the door, Allman stepped out from the Royal Southern Brotherhood after the tour ended on Feb. 28.
Bandleader Cyril Neville is a native of New Orleans, famous for its music and food and he mixed both to describe the future of the Royal Southern Brotherhood.
“If you liked the musical gumbo that we served, the roux of the gumbo is the same,” Cyril Neville said. “Anybody who knows anything about gumbo knows that if you’ve got the right kind of roux, you’ve got a great gumbo.”
After fulfilling a three-album deal with Ruf Records, Devon Allman and Mike Zito will pursue their ascending solo careers. But the band will remain Southern and regal with the addition of Austin’s Tyrone Vaughan and Nashville’s Bart Walker, who is already on tour. The new guitarists joined Neville, a percussionist and renowned singer, and an Atlanta-based rhythm section, drummer Yonrico Scott and bass player Charlie Wooton in the studio in early January to record the fourth Royal Southern Brotherhood album.
“The roux is the rhythm section,” Neville said. “No note is to be left unturned. No groove will be left unexperimented. As far as the rhythm section is concerned, I call them lightning and thunder. That’s probably one of the most solid rhythm sections out there working today. So we just decided to keep on moving, man. I thought, ‘It ain’t time for me to lighten up, it’s time for me to tighten up.’ ”
The newly formed band entered the studio with 15 songs and being more collectively prepared than ever, Neville said. And Zito and Allman still had a presence.
“Royal Southern Brotherhood, that’s not just the name of the band, that’s our philosophy,” Neville said. “Mike and Devon are my Brotherhood brothers for life. Devon and I wrote two songs on this record, and Mike just wrote one he sent to me. There is no animosity or any of that kind of stuff. All of this is on the up and up and everybody is happy about it. We’re going to continue to write songs together and, who knows, maybe somewhere down the line there will be a reunion show somewhere. We stay in contact. We’re family.”
Calling itself “Royal” is hardly ostentatious. Cyril Neville is a member of the transcendent Neville Brothers and was in the New Orleans funk pioneers the Meters during its final years. Devon Allman is Gregg Allman’s son and Zito is a prolific recording artist involved in many collaborations, including an album with Anders Osborne. Neville and Zito also play with Tab Benoit’s Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars.
The transition with the new guitarists was smooth, said Neville, who was interviewed in December by Tahoe Onstage.
“We just had 16-day run and we’ve been in the studio together and had several rehearsals with the new music that we’re working on,” he said. “We’ve definitely got a feel for each other. It was an easy progression. Bart Walker is a really great guy and I was really impressed when he played his own stuff and I heard him doing other people’s music, so he’s a real player. And he’s got a great voice and a really great stage presence.
“My grandchildren and one of my nieces compare him to Care Bear. He’s a really nice person on top of being a really good guitar player and really good song writer. On the new record that we are working on, he and I have collaborated on at least four or five things.”
Vaughan was 5 years old when his uncle, Stevie Ray Vaughan, gave him is first guitar. Neville said he’s been close to the Vaughan family ever since he and Jimmy Vaughan, Tyrone’s father, wrote “Six Strings Down,” a tribute to Stevie and other guitar greats who died young.
Neville said Vaughan was a natural person to seek to join the band.
“He was one of the first people I thought about,” Neville said. “He just laughed and laughed and said, ‘Hey man, I’ve just been waiting on the call.’ ”
The upcoming album will have some well known guest artists.
“This is the first time for Royal Southern Brotherhood, that we’ve been this prepared going into the studio,” Neville said. “You will always get a taste of the rock and the southern blues grooves and some funk. After all, I am from a family of funk from New Orleans. I’m not going to name nobody, but we’re going to have some friends.”
But with some gentle encouragement, Neville revealed one name and gave three broad hints. Ivan Neville, Cyril’s nephew and Dumpstaphunk bandleader, will play on the record.
“So that’s the NOLA contingency,” Neville said. “Where we record it (Muscle Shoals, Ala.), there are some hard hitters in that area. And Bart is from Nashville, and there are some hard hitters from Nashville. Tyrone is from Austin. There are some hard hitters in Austin.”
ABOUT Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.
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