On November 8, Devon Allman, the bandleader of the Devon Allman Project and the son of the late Gregg Allman, played the Grand Ole Opry for the first time. His duet partner that night, the soulful, country rocker Maggie Rose, has played the Opry more than ninety times. In addition to Allman’s debut on that storied stage, the performance marked the debut of Allman and Rose’s cover of “These Days,” a song that appeared on Gregg Allman’s first solo album, 1973’s Laid Back. Written by Allman pal Jackson Browne, the song will be a centerpiece in the upcoming Allman Family Revival, an eighteen-date tour that kicks off in the Allman Brothers’ home turf of Macon, Georgia, on November 26.
The video for the song is a simple, black-and-white clip, and the chemistry between Allman and Rose is palpable, even though the two had met in person for the first time just a few days earlier. In the video—as well as in the Opry performance—each plays a guitar owned by Gregg. Those guitars will be used by Allman and Rose during the Revival tour, when they will be joined by Duane Betts (the son of Allman Brothers founding member and guitarist Dickey Betts), Jimmy Hall, Larry McCray, Donovan Frankenreiter, G. Love, and Alex Orbison. This year’s tour will be especially poignant as Gregg Allman, who passed away in 2017, would have turned 75 this December.
Watch the video for Allman and Rose’s version of “These Days” below, and read on as the pair talk pre-show jitters, the timeless beauty of the song, and what they hope to bring to audiences in person.
Maggie, did you give Devon any advice before he hit the Opry stage for the first time?
MR: He was a total pro. It was an emotional moment for me. I always think it’s very sacred to play the Opry, and I still get butterflies. But it’s been a minute since I’ve had them, and I almost choked up. There was a moment in the song when I think you and I both, Devon, sort of settled into it and were like, “Woo this is happening.” Just this moment of recognition. That was really cool.
DA: I never really got a chance to get nervous. I was laser focused on trying to do that song justice. I’ve been around the block a few times, and it’s actually really nice to get some butterflies again. They’re not scary butterflies anymore. They’re like, “Oh man, I get this excited feeling again.” It’s like my dad used to say: “You freak out during the buildup, but as soon as that first beat kicks in, it’s like, ‘Come on. This is what we do. We got this.’”
What was the impetus to cover “These Days”?
MR: Devon asked me to be on the Allman Family Revival tour, which was just so stunning and cool to think about with the caliber of musicians I’d be out with. I always loved “These Days.” I love Laid Back, and a couple of months ago I approached Devon about doing a duet together, and he was gung-ho about it. But he also had a cool take on why that song was inviting for us to cover.
DA: It’s a delicate dance being me. I don’t ever, nor will I ever, do a version of, say, “Melissa” and release it. I might sing it for Dad’s fans because he’s not here to do it for them. But “These Days” is such a classic song. It’s such a storied song, and when my dad did it, it was a cover. It was nice to tip the hat to Dad but not necessarily be stepping on his toes or his catalog directly. It’s one of my favorite songs anyway. I love Jackson Browne and he and my dad were roommates, so there are all these things that kind of tie together. People will see a poignant moment in the show when Maggie and I bring that song to life.
MR: And the way that we get to perform it is really like how we recorded it. We were facing each other; we didn’t sit in isolation booths and pump his vocal and mine together. It was us singing together. It really kind of captures a sweet energy that we’ll get to see in person.
And you got Chuck Leavell to redo his piano solo for your version as well.
DA: I hit Chuck up and said: “Hey man, I have to throw this out there to you, and there’s no wrong answer because you have already done this, but if you would like to recreate the solo that you played on Dad’s ‘These Days,’ it would be cool.” He could have said, “Hey man, I’ve already kind of been there, done that.” But he said he’d love to.
Maggie, you grew up in Maryland. Were the Allman Brothers a musical touchstone for you?
MR: I always listened to great American music and Southern rock, so of course the Allman Brothers were among that repertoire of music that I just loved as a young teenager. There’s something about it that was very compelling to me. And it’s interesting that I’ve had a few detours along the way, but I kind of finally found myself making similar music that was soulful and has a groove to it and rocks. But it’s just timeless music, and I think that’s due to the quality and the musicianship that was put into it, and there’s also the folklore of it all. That was really cool to me.
Devon, I think some people think it’s easy to put these tours together, just have everyone show up and play. But you’ve put a lot of work into it.
DA: It’s so funny because we just finalized the setlist and all the graphics that’ll be on the 40-foot-by-20-foot video wall. I would say it’s about five months solid of booking, merch designing, ordering, just all the orchestrating. I have a great team, but I’m really hands-on and select the talent and select the songs and the vibe we want for everything. It’s a labor of love and a big party for Dad at the end of the day. This year will be cool because the Allman Betts Band has been on hiatus this year to concentrate on some solo endeavors. So this tour will be the first time this year that Duane Betts and I are back onstage together. That’s very special to me to make music with Brother Duane again. You’ll see guests do a song they’re known for and then their take on an Allman-centric song. It’s a fast-moving show and a lot of moving parts, but there are some really sweet moments in honor of Dad. I still really miss him.