The Allman Brothers Band recorded “Blue Sky” in September 1971, one month before guitarist Duane Allman took a joyride through the streets of Macon, Georgia, and suffered a fatal crash on his motorcycle.
Nearly 50 years later, solo artists Devon Allman and Duane Betts — the sons of fellow Allman Brothers co-founders Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts — resurrect the song’s guitar-driven swagger during this live performance. Filmed during Charlie Daniels’ 20th Volunteer Jam in Nashville, the all-hands-on-deck version of “Blue Sky” features contributions from a handful of Southern rock OGs and roots-music torchbearers, including mandolinist Sam Bush, songwriter Jamey Johnson, drummer Kenny Aronoff, famed producer Don Was, guitarist Audley Freed and the Allmans’ former keyboardist, Chuck Leavell.
Freed, a onetime member of the Black Crowes who currently tours with Sheryl Crow, tackles the song’s first guitar solo. Even so, it’s Dickey Betts’ 40-year-old son, Duane, whose fretwork most closely emulates the style of the original recording, thanks in part to a goldtop Les Paul that’s strikingly reminiscent of Duane Allman’s own instrument.
A Tennessee tradition since 1974, this year’s Volunteer Jam celebrated Charlie Daniels’ legacy by shining a light not only on the songwriter himself, but the generations of Southern rockers who’ve followed in his wake. Brent Cobb, Blackberry Smoke and Chris Janson all took the stage during the March 7th show in Nashville, modernizing a bill that also featured ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Bobby Bare and Alabama.
Volunteer Jam XX: A Tribute to Charlie, produced by Blackbird Presents, premieres on AXS TV on Sunday, August 19th, at 10:00 p.m./ET. A two-CD set of songs from the concert is available for preorder.