Though Duane Betts has been playing in bands for more than two decades and has an instantly recognizable last name in Southern music circles, he was a late bloomer in one aspect of his musical journey: being a singer. “I didn’t really learn how to sing until my late thirties,” says the now forty-four-year-old son of the legendary guitarist and Allman Brothers Band co-founder Dickey Betts. “Guitar playing comes pretty naturally to me. I’ve gotten much more confident [with singing], but it’s been a process.”
Out in July, his debut full-length solo album, Wild & Precious Life, shows off his laid-back vocals with a big helping of guitar fireworks. Today, G&G is proud to premiere the album’s first single, “Waiting on a Song,” a breezy summer jam with an earworm melody and a guitar solo with more sizzle than steaks searing in a cast-iron skillet. A Florida native, Betts wrote several of the album’s songs near his dad’s house in Sarasota, as well as some in Jackson, Wyoming, where he met his wife. “I’ve kind of inherited Jackson, as a home and a place that I really cherish,” he says. “It’s a very inspirational place.”
But the Wild & Precious Life vibe is all Florida: sunsets, sand dunes, and cypress trees. Betts was talking to fellow guitarist and Allman alum Derek Trucks and his wife and musical partner, Susan Tedeschi, at a birthday party in Key West, when Tedeschi suggested that Betts record the album at their Swamp Raga Studio in Jacksonville. Betts and his band, Palmetto Motel, spent two weeks at Swamp Raga recording live to tape. Trucks and Betts trade riffs on the melancholic barnburner “Stare at the Sun,” harkening back to the guitar interplay of the Allman Brothers, while Marcus King brings his fuzz-soaked licks to the bluesy album highlight “Cold Dark World.”
“I wanted that old Florida sound, that mix of folk, rock, blues, and country,” Betts says. “I’d like to think we got it.”
Listen to “Waiting on a Song” below, and look for Betts and Palmetto Motel on tour this spring and summer. Wild & Precious Life is out July 14 and available for preorder here.