March seems reluctant to let go of winter. Snowflakes made yet another unwelcome appearance today, blankets remain at the ready inside, a cold wind whipped outside, and the trees (like our hopes) lay fully bare. A few days ago, though, on March 5, winter loosened its grip; temperatures were in the 60s, the sky was blue, the sun shone, and a warm breeze gently stirred. Right along with it, the Devon Allman Project came to town and played at the beautifully renovated historic Robins Theater. I first heard him in 2006 when Joe Bonamassa was featured on Honeytribe's Torch album in the unforgettably rockin' bluesy track "Mercy Mercy" (a well-spent 2 minutes and 46 seconds, trust me on that!). It was a good season of life; I became Joe's Street Team Director, which was great fun for the next few years, an artist painted one of my photos and Joe used it for the You and Me album cover, I loaded up the fam' in my big (and beloved) Durango more times than I could count for road trips to different blues shows and festivals, and there were plenty of shows to see and photograph here at home, too, at a little venue just a few miles away called the B & O Station.
One of those shows was Honeytribe, and it was the first time I saw Devon live. It was a busy day and a hectic evening and I wasn't even going to go, but then I came to my senses and went. I got there about 20 minutes in, right in the middle of his rousing rendition of his dad's Sweet Melissa. So maybe I'm a little biased, but I have always loved that song (even when my late, great, and profoundly missed brother would sing it to harass me when I was a little kid) so he had my FULL attention from the moment I walked in throughout the whole show and beyond, when he was kind enough to pose for a photo with me. It was a memorable photo, mainly because his hair was shoulder-length and I was about shoulder height, and it got me in the eye so it took all that I had to keep it open for the photo. The show itself was memorable, too; a seamless hybrid of Devon's own style and a nod to the Allman Brothers sound, plus Devon's ability to draw the entire crowd in with his musicianship, vocals, and, well, seemingly his heart. I haven't missed a show since, so Saturday night's performance was one of many but just as spectacular as the others and one that showcased his evolution to date.
Samantha Fish opened up for him and--as usual--she absolutely BROUGHT IT! I just saw her at that same venue in October and it seems like she has honed her craft even more perfectly than mere months ago; there was neither a still nor a quiet moment at any point during her set. A unique duo opened up for her, by the name of the River Kittens, and talented guitarist Luther Dickinson sat in with Samantha for a few songs, sat in with Devon for a few songs, then joined them both, along with the River Kittens, for an all-star encore to close the show in front of a cheering audience, every one of us on our feet. It made for an awfully good time there at the Robins Theater in Warren, Ohio, on Saturday, March 5th; the day of the first and very welcome sampling of spring with its blue skies, golden sun, warm breeze, and an evening of some very joyful noise (and good memories) that came to town along with it.