By Andy J. Gordon
A new band of talented musicians came to Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach on May 18, 2012. Royal Southern Brotherhood is a group with rock royalty membership and serious musical chops. The band recently released their self titled debut album and is touring to support the new material. The Saint Rocke show was an exciting set of blues, southern rock, funk, sweet harmonies and expert guitar slinging.
The band is made up of musicians with serious resumes. New Orleans’ Cyril Neville, 64, is the youngest of the legendary Neville Brothers. He sings, plays percussion and contributes a unique soulful funkiness. Devon Allman, 39, from St. Louis is the son of Gregg Allman, and has built his own reputation as the singing, guitar weilding front man of the successful touring band Honeytribe. Mike Zito, also from St. Louis, is another blues singer and guitarist who won a 2010 Blues Music Award as well as a nomination in 2011 for the Blues Music Foundation’s ‘Best Blues Rock’ award. The rhythm section is bassist Charlie Wooten and drummer Yonrico Scott. Wooten is known for his Louisiana bass driven funk group Charlie Wooten Project. Scott was the drummer for the Derek Trucks Band, and also worked with Gregg Allman and the Allman Brothers.
This stellar lineup raised high expectations. Their show at Saint Rocke exceeded those expectations with a display of well constructed new songs, sizzling guitar solos and tightly arranged jams. They played nearly every song on the new album and opened the show with “Fired Up.” Zito played a killer slide solo during that song. Neville sang lead vocals on “Moonlight Over Mississippi”, a tune that could be the rallying cry for the formation of the band. On “Left My Heart in Memphis,” Allman and Zito played off each other in a way reminiscent of Allman’s Uncle Duane and Dicky Betts. The band also did a bluesy, funky version of the Grateful Dead’s “Fire On the Mountain” with Zito ripping a mean slide guitar throughout and each member contributing fine vocal harmonies. “Sweet Jelly Donut” is a catchy tune that seemed to be Neville’s tribute to classic New Orleans venues and music.
The encore was a special treat. Allman called a friend from the audience up to the stage to help them out on the Allman Brothers’ classic “One Way Out.” The surprise guest was Duane Betts, Dicky’s son, who is another guitar gunslinger. The small stage was filled with three master guitarists trading licks during the classic southern rock anthem. It was a great way to end a very entertaining show. Royal Southern Brotherhood may be new on the southern rock scene but their serious pedigree, catchy songs and great live shows should draw a large and dedicated fan base.
Photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon