Saturday, May 18, 2013 • Doors 7pm • Show 8pm • $22 Advance • $25 Day of Show • All Ages
Before they even hit a chord, Royal Southern Brotherhood have your attention. In the US South, where music is religion, two rock ‘n’ roll bloodlines tower above all others. In the saloon bars from Mississippi to Maryland, mere mention of the Allman and Neville Brothers casts a magic spell. Conversation falls silent. Pool balls stop rolling. Ten-gallon hats are tipped in respect and beer-bottles raised in salute.
These aren’t just bands, they’re gods, and with a lineup comprising both the iconic Cyril Neville and Devon Allman, Royal Southern Brotherhood come pre-loaded with expectations. Don’t worry: they can match them. The family tree might be auspicious, but this new band trades on talent, not genealogy. It’s not about rock history: it’s about the here-and-now.
This lineup has talent to burn. You’ll already know Cyril Neville: poet, philosopher, percussion master and perhaps the South’s last great soul singer. At 63, this is the latest chapter in a career that began with 1970’s debut solo single, Gossip, and his touchdown in the lineup of older brother Art’s funk outfit, The Meters, who had already hit big with 1969’s immortal Cissy Strut.
Likewise Devon Allman, as the son of Gregg Allman, the 36-year-old has rock ‘n’ roll in his DNA, but he’s always walked his own path. Growing up apart from his father in St Louis, MO, and refusing to trade on his celebrity surname, Devon’s formative influences took in everyone from The Beatles to KISS, while his early bands ran the musical gamut rather than echo the Allmans.
Not many guitarists could stand toe-to-toe with him. Step up Mike Zito: the blues ace whose ear for melody provides the counterpoint to his wingman’s rocking tendencies. Nominated in 2011 for the Blues Music Foundation’s ‘Best Blues Rock’ award, and winner of 2010’s Blues Music Award for ‘Song Of The Year’ with the title track of Pearl River, few stars are rising faster. As former St Louis circuit-mates and friendly rivals, Devon and Mike have history, and while the guitarist has known trials in his life – just listen to 2011’s award-nominated Greyhound album for an account of the addictions that left him homeless in Florida – Royal Southern Brotherhood finds him long-term sober and with soul flowing through his fingers.
But like Cyril says, it’s all about making “a good gumbo”, and that’s where God’s own rhythm section comes in. Giving Royal Southern Brotherhood its hip-shaking groove are bassist Charlie Wooton and drummer Yonrico Scott: both heavyweight names in their own right, with Charlie’s bass chops celebrated on the Southern jam scene for his sets with the Woods Brothers, and Yonrico hitting the skins for luminaries including the Derek Trucks Band, Gregg Allman and the Allman Brothers themselves. When these five stellar musicians come together as Royal Southern Brotherhood, the planets align.
They said that rock ‘n’ roll was dead, but they were wrong. Right now, in 2012, there’s something in the air, as Royal Southern Brotherhood drag their thrilling new brand of blues-rock and white-hot musicianship from the Southern States onto the world stage. The South is rising again. Come along for the ride.