Having a famous last name can be a mixed blessing.
Just ask Devon Allman, the bluesy guitarist, vocalist and songwriter whose dad is Gregg Allman of Allman Brothers Band fame.
“When I was starting out, it did open some doors. But once you go through them, you’re definitely expected to play at a certain level,” Allman, 37, said. “The good thing is, I never gave a crap about it. I want to be the best guitarist and singer I can be no matter what my family is. I just do my job and my work ethic speaks for itself.”
Make no mistake, Allman, playing the Canton Blues Festival at 6 p.m. today, has no problem with his lineage. In fact, he’s appeared onstage with both his father’s solo band and the Allman Brothers Band.
Asked if people ever shout out requests for the Allman Brothers’ staple “Whipping Post” at his concerts, he chuckled and said it’s indeed happened. “I’ve never played ‘Whipping Post’ but I do throw in an Allman Brothers song as a tip of the hat to my family. I’m proud of my family and it makes the fans happy.”
At tonight’s downtown Canton show, Allman will mix songs from his solo album “Turquoise” with tunes from his bands Honeytribe and Royal Southern Brotherhood.
Allman described his sound as “like an amalgam of everything I ever was reared on, everything from the Stones to Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, Steely Dan and Tom Petty.”
The bulk of Allman’s summer touring schedule is playing blues festivals, which have widened their boundaries from traditional blues.
“The whole 12-bar blues thing is a great construct, but at the end of the day, stretching outside of that framework is healthy,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with being bluesy instead of straight blues, as long as you’re singing with soul and passion.”
While Allman, who grew up in St. Louis, has been playing guitar since his early teens, “the guitar for me was mostly a vehicle to write songs,” he said. “I always fancied myself a singer that played a little rhythm.”
It wasn’t till the lead guitarist in his band quit that Allman, then 31, decided to give it a shot and began practicing extensively.
“Now I’m becoming more known as a lead guitarist than anything else,” Allman said. “It’s an absolute joy at this stage in my career. Playing lead has become a real cool way to express myself.”
THEME PARK SHOWMAN
This summer marks a theme-park trifecta for Brett Parr. In 2010, he was the Jungle Cruise skipper at Disneyworld. In 2011, he worked on The Mantis and paddlewheel boat ride at Cedar Point. This summer, he’s at Kings Island near Cincinnati, performing up to six times a day in the live, 25-minute musical revue titled “British Invasion.”
Page 2 of 2 -
“I call it professional showchoir. It’s four guys and four girl and we sing and dance throughout,” said Parr, who has had numerous roles in local theater including Frank-N-Furter in the North Canton Playhouse’s “The Rocky Horror Show.”
Parr’s big numbers in “British Invasion” are the Beatles’ “Help!” the Hollies’ “Bus Stop” and Elton John’s “Pinball Wizard.” In the latter, part of a “very glitzy” Elton medley, Parr wears high platform boots.
The show is presented multiple times daily (except Thursdays) at Kings Island, through Aug. 18.
‘FIFTY SHADES’ SPOOFS
The best-selling erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Gray” and its sequels are proving ripe fodder for satirical stage musicals. Already we’ve seen a sexy-funny stage musical called “Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody” at Cleveland’s Hanna Theatre, where it will return Aug. 8 through 18. Tickets are on sale at 216-241-6000 and www.playhousesquare.org.
Next comes “50 Shades! The Musical,” another silly spoof, which will be presented June 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall. Tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster and 330-972-7570.