Dickey Betts: Good Times, Bad Blood and Delta Style (Relix Revisited)
What’s been the most rewarding thing since moving past the Brothers?
DB: The rewarding thing is just the enjoyment that I’m getting out of the music and everybody’s enthusiasm. Everyone’s bringing a lot to the table, always talking about new song ideas, and ideas for the songs that we’re already doing. It’s just really nice. I’m making one-fourth the money working three times as hard and having ten times as much fun creating three times as much music.
It’s good to see you coming out with some fresh writing.
DB: Thank you, man, but writers are so damned insecure; you think you’re never gonna write again once you’ve finished a song.
Are you writing other stuff now?
DB: Yeah, as a matter of fact we’re already writing for our next album. We always have these hotel room acoustic gigs where we play around with ideas. We’re gonna let this record go its course, and then I’ll probably do a live thing. I’m also thinking seriously about doing an acoustic record and inviting friends to sit in. Maybe ask Dylan if he wants to play on one, and Charlie Daniels, John Hammond, maybe Vassar Clements on another one. Do an assortment of my instrumentals and maybe some Delta blues covers and maybe write a couple.
What do you think of the film Almost Famous [the 1970s flashback of the fictitious band, Stillwater, based in part on the early Allman Brothers saga]?
DB: You know, if I talk about it, it sounds like I’m a pompous ass, but the truth is that some of the story lines in there really did happen. I did befriend Cameron Crowe. He had done a couple of things in Creme magazine and I liked the way he wrote. Nobody knew he was as young as he really was. But I talked the guys into letting him travel around on our bus, and the tape situation really did happen with Gregg. There were a lot of things in there that reminded me of the old days involving him.
In the film, Billy Crudup looks a lot like you when you were younger.
DB: Yeah, it was kinda chilling when I saw it. Crudup said he was portraying a Dickey Betts-type character in one of his interviews. I thought they really did a great job at recreating those old days. For a movie, they didn’t miss it how the hotel rooms looked and the action that goes on. I got a kick out of it.
What’s the difference between then and now for Dickey Betts?
DB: With me, I’m in more of a role now of being like a teacher. What I mean by that is, a lot of these younger guitar players, they treat me like I treated B.B. King when I first met him. You get older, and if you’re good at all, you notice people start paying you this real embarrassing respect that you’re not used to. But as far as the music and the traveling, it’s much the same; it’s out on the bus, card games, a lot of laughs, loud music, you know, you got the thing turned up. We’re just a lot more careful about getting hurt and being in the wrong places at the wrong times.
What’s been getting the best live response on tour?
DB: This crowd really digs “One Stop Be-Bop.” When we played that song before the CD was out, they didn’t know what the hell to think of it. Now that they’ve had a little chance to live with it, they love it, man, because it’s so off the wall. How do you get away with doing that in a rock ‘n’ roll band? I think some of their favorites are “Dona Maria” off this [Let’s Get Together] and they love “Immortal” that Matt does. We’re playing about two-and-a-half to three hours. It’s just how long I’ve always believed a show should be from my younger days.
Are you breaking out anything older?
DB: I change around stuff a lot during the night. Just about any of the stuff I wrote with the Brothers you may hear in any night. I did “Back Where it All Begins” last night. I do “Elizabeth Reed” and “Jessica” and “Blue Sky,” and sometimes we do “True Gravity,” and then I do “Rave On,” “Be-Bop” and “Dona Maria” from this new CD. We do a hell of a lot of the new record in our show.
Anything you want to add?
DB: I always like to say, “hello” to folks out there. Come see us. We’re thinking of ya.