Duane Betts and Palmetto Motel Bring Classic and New Rock, Blues and Country to Southern CA with Their Upcoming Spring Vacancy Tour

Duane Betts and Palmetto Motel will be visiting Southern California, when they play several tour dates as part of their Spring Vacancy Tour. Duane brings a mix of music that he has written and performed on his own solo albums, as well as some songs made favorite by his father’s and namesake’s band, the Allman Brothers Band. Born into a musical family, Duane Betts fell in love with music early. Taking a route similar to many budding musicians, he tried playing several different instruments before settling on guitar as his primary form of expression. Of course, it helped that he had a talent for vocals and songwriting too.

Developing his talents, he started performing early in his life. That included solo work, as well as playing with his father’s group Dickey Betts and Great Southern. Duane Betts also has shared the stage with many top musicians, including Phil Lesh, Jack Johnson and Kid Rock. He’s also spent time in various tribute groups to the Allman Brothers Band, playing with other Allman siblings such as Derek Trucks, Berry Duane Oakley and Devon Allman. Duane’s solo albums include Sketches of American Music, a solo effort with tastes of rock, country and blues. The sessions were aided by veteran Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MG’s, The Blues Brothers); and Marc Ford (the Black Crowes). Tours included stints with the Allman Betts Band, with Devon Allman and Berry D. Oakley; Devon Allman Project, with Gregg Allman’s son; and also tour dates with his dad Dickey Betts and his band.

Duane Betts sat down with The Los Angeles Beat recently to talk over growing up as an Allman Brothers Band child, his journey into becoming a musician and what’s happening these days as Southern California welcomes Duane Betts andPalmetto Motel to their Spring Vacancy Tour. The tour will be visiting The Venice West in Venice Beach; Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace in Pioneertown (Palm Springs area); the Ventura Music Hall in Ventura; and The Coach House Concert Hall in San Juan Capistrano.

Q: Hello, Duane. So what led you to follow a musical career?

A: I guess I was always around music. It was something I was passionate about from a young age. I always wanted to play drums. My dad always had guitars around; and he bought me a small ukulele when I was really young. It was kind of difficult for me, and I grew frustrated and told him that I wanted to play drums. Then I really got into playing drums and I played drums until I was twelve or thirteen as my main instrument; and then I switched to guitar, ironically, because I was so frustrated by it when I was so young. I came back around to it and began taking to it.

I think it’s pretty natural—a lot of guitar players start out on drums. It’s all intertwined—you’ve got to have rhythm. So this is how it worked out! Once I started playing guitar, I was pretty hell-bent on being a guitar player and I had my heroes. So that was kind of the path; it wasn’t a big deal really, I had the freedom to explore and develop at my own pace; and just have fun with it. It wasn’t like a career decision necessarily, it was just like “this is what I do”. I’m passionate about it, so hopefully I’ll make a living doing this.

Q: Blue Sky seems to be an important song to you. Why?

A: Well, obviously it’s a song my father wrote and sing; and it’s just a beautiful song. I love the song and its got a beautiful melody, beautiful lyrics, beautiful sentiment; and it really has a great instrumental section in it to just kind of flow. It flows like a river and it’s just beautiful musically and lyrically and melodically. Other than that, anybody can relate to it. My dad wrote it for his third wife, Sandy Blue Sky, so that’s who it was written for, but it can be applied to anybody.

Q: Tell me a story from the road…..

A: Well, the first time I sat in with the Allman Brothers Band was in Vail, Colorado; and that was a pretty major achievement for me, being that I was fifteen years old and had never played with the band; and I was up there in the spotlight playing a guitar solo. I actually forgot my guitar at the hotel on purpose, because I was so nervous to play; and of course when we got on the bus my dad asked if I was ready to sit in with the band as planned, because we had talked about it. I said “Oh man, I left my guitar at the hotel”; and he said “That’s OK, we’ve got plenty of guitars, you don’t need that guitar”. I thought, ‘Oh man, why didn’t I think of that’. So inevitably, I sat in and it went off without a hitch!

Q: Tell me about Duane Betts and Palmetto Motel. Who is in the band playing on the Spring Vacancy Tour?

A: The group of musicians I have on this tour…..I have Johnny Stachela, who is my guitar partner and is pretty much always with me. We played in the Allman Betts Band together. Then I have Pedro Aravolo on bass and vocal. He is from the Dickey Betts Band; my dad’s band. We played together for the better part of a decade I’d say. Then on drums we have Vince Fossett Jr.

Q: So it sounds like you’ve got a good mix of people you’re working with…..

A: Yes. Where I’m at now, the lineup can change a little from tour to tour depending on who’s available. And that’s what’s cool about it— you get to play with different people, but I want to get it to where it’s a consistent lineup every time. It’s Johnny and me pretty much all the time; and Berry Duane Oakley’s with us a lot of the time.

Q: Your dad was obviously a big influence on your musical style, as well as your life. Any thoughts about him?

A: My dad has always been a constant source of inspiration for me. He’s one of my best friends. I have a lot of influences and a lot of artists I look up to and guitar players that I look up to; and he’s my dad, so he’s right in there; and he’s probably right at the top of all of them. I learned a lot from him. We enjoy hanging out. Watching westerns together, chilling out now in his older age. It’s still fun to hang out with him.

Q: Can you tell me about the song Juliette?

A: Juliette is an unreleased song, actually, but I’ve played it live a few times. It’s a song I wrote with my friend Stoll Vaughan. It’s inspired about—Juliette’s a town in Georgia. My family and I used to drive up there from Florida. I used to remember waking up in Georgia and it would be totally different than the part of Florida we were in. We were in the lower half of the state of Florida, so the weather would be different, everything would be different, the dirt would be different, the trees would be different. We’d camp out, go fishing, my dad might do some bow hunting or something. It was always a beautiful place, a place my dad loves. It’s a beautiful name too, so it doubles like you’re talking about a girl. That was the inspiration behind writing Juliette. I’m really excited about releasing my new record that will be out later this summer. I recorded it at Swamp Raga, which is a big deal, because it is Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi’s studio. It’s a big deal because they’re amazing!

Q: One other song that caught me because its got a great riff is Downtown Runaround. Can you tell me about that?

A: Oh yeah, Downtown Runaround! That’s song’s riff I came up with when I was jamming in my friend’s studio in Long Beach. That’s where it was recorded too, at the Compound in Long Beach. I just came up with that riff and then I wrote the words with my friend Stoll Vaughan again. I write a lot of stuff with Stoll. Downtown Runaround is a riff I came up with, a fun song, a kind of tongue-in-cheek song. It’s a song about getting into trouble. You keep getting into trouble, no matter what you do! That’s what the song’s about. I like that one, it’s a fun song to play!

Q: Any last thoughts, Duane?

A: I’m just looking forward to seeing everyone and playing some really good music. Seeing some smiling faces! We can’t wait to see everybody. Bring a friend!

The coast will be rockin’ as Duane Betts and Palmetto Motel bring their Spring Vacancy Tour to Southern California. The tour will be visiting The Venice West in Venice Beach; the Ventura Music Hall in Ventura; Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace in Pioneertown (Palm Springs area); and The Coach House Concert Hall in San Juan Capistrano. Tickets are available via the venue websites or at the door.

Duane Betts and Palmetto Motel

Spring Vacancy Tour

Ventura Music Hall

April 2, 2023


The Venice West

April 3, 2023


Pappy & Harriet’s

April 4, 2023

Pappy & Harriet’s Facebook page

Coach House Concert Hall

April 5, 2023

San Juan Capistrano


Duane Betts website

All Photos courtesy of Doug Deutsch PR

Ed Simon

About Ed Simon

Ed is a native of Los Angeles who loves food and food cultures. Whether he's looking for the best ceviche in Colombia, the best poke in Hawaii, the best tequila in Jalisco, the best Bun bo Hue in Vietnam or the best Taiwanese Beef Roll in Los Angeles, it's all good food! He also loves a good drink. He's had Mai Tais in Hawaii, Bourbon in Kentucky, Tequila in Mexico and Rum in Jamaica. His wine escapades have taken him to Napa, Sonoma, the Willamette Valley and the Santa Ynez Valley. And he's had beer all over the world! Music is another of Ed's passion, writing and interviewing many classic rock, rock and blues musicians. Getting the great stories of road experiences from them is a particular delight. Traveling also fits in with Ed's writing, exploring all over to find the most interesting places to visit, even in out of the way areas.
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