Duane Betts and his band, Palmetto Motel, made their mark on the stage of The Hamilton Live in DC last week as part of their monthlong tour alongside co-headliner Maggie Rose. This tour serves as a prelude to Duane’s highly anticipated debut solo album, Wild and Precious Life, set to be released on July 14 on the Royal Potato Family Records label.
The journey leading up to the creation of Wild and Precious Life has been nothing short of a whirlwind for Duane. Having honed his skills with the bands Backbone69 and Whitestarr, Duane spent a significant portion of the past decade playing guitar alongside his father, Dickey Betts, a legendary co-founder of The Allman Brothers Band. He also embarked on global adventures as a touring member of Dawes before venturing into solo territory with his EP, Sketches of American Music, released in 2018. As the decade neared its end, Duane co-founded The Allman Betts Band, which saw the release of two successful records in 2019 and 2020.
Nevertheless, the burning desire to create a full-length solo album, one that pays homage to his musical roots while forging into new sonic territory, never ceased. “I wanted to make a record that would truly capture that old-school Florida vibe,” said the Sarasota native.
Following his instincts, Duane assembled a dream team of musicians, including the talented guitarist Johnny Stachela, bassist Berry Duane Oakley (son of Allman Brothers co-founder and bassist Berry Oakley), keyboardist John Ginty, and drummer Tyler Greenwell from the renowned Tedeschi Trucks Band. Duane also seized the opportunity to record at Swamp Raga Studio in Jacksonville, Florida, graciously offered by his dear friends Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. The recording sessions for Wild and Precious Life took place in 2022 and were captured on two-inch analog tape during electrifying live performances within the studio. “We set up as a band, tracked everything live, and kept whichever takes had the magic,” Duane explained.
The album also boasts impressive guest appearances, with the likes of Marcus King, whose guitar solos intertwine with Duane’s on the captivating “Cold Dark World,” Nicki Bluhm, whose haunting harmonies beautifully grace the country-infused “Colors Fade,” and Derek Trucks, whose searing guitar leads elevate the album highlight, “Stare at the Sun.”
In the buildup to the album release, Duane unveiled the first single, “Waiting on a Song,” in April 2023, followed by the powerful “Stare at the Sun” in May. In June, fans were treated to a third single, “Saints to Sinners,” showcasing Duane’s versatility and musical prowess.
Checkout the pre-released tracks of Wild and Precious Life by Duane Betts on Spotify:
During the concert at The Hamilton Live on June 30, Duane and the band delivered a setlist that pulled the audience from its seats and filled the dance floor infront of the stage.
They kicked off with the energetic “Downtown Runaround” before paying homage to their roots with a cover of “Shinin'” by The Allman Betts Band. The crowd was treated to the mesmerizing “Saints to Sinners” and a heartfelt rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well.” The powerful “Stare at the Sun” and the country-infused “Colors Fade” created an enchanting atmosphere.
Duane joined forces with Maggie Rose for captivating duets on a spirited cover of The Allman Brothers’ “Blue Sky” and “Circles in the Stars. The concert reached its peak with the performance of “Waiting on a Song,” leaving the audience wanting more.
Duane mesmerized the crowd throughout the majority of his set with an iconic goldtop Gibson Les Paul, which holds a special significance. This particular guitar served as the prototype for Gibson’s limited 114-piece run of the Dickey Betts Les Paul goldtop, released in 2001. Modeled after the vintage ’57 goldtop that his father famously wielded during his time in The Allman Brothers Band, this instrument added an extra layer of sentimental value to Duane’s performance. However, there was a delightful exception during the poignant rendition of “Circles in the Stars” when Duane borrowed Maggie’s Gibson Hummingbird acoustic, adding a delightful acoustic touch to the evening’s ambiance.
Duane Betts & Palmetto Hotel, comprising Duane on guitar and vocals, Johnny Stachela on guitar, Pedro Arevalo on bass, and Vince Fossett Jr. on drums, are now set to continue their headlining dates and festival appearances throughout July and August. For more information on tour dates, be sure to visit Duane’s official website.
Enjoy some photos of Duane Betts & Palmetto Motel performing at The Hamilton Live on June 30, 2023. All images copyrighted and courtesy of Ari Strauss.