Singer-songwriter and guitarist Duane Betts has had an impressive musical journey thus far. Betts spent the better part of a decade playing guitar alongside his father — legendary Allman Brothers co-founder Dickey Betts — as a member of Dickey Betts & Great Southern. He also traveled the world as a touring member of the band Dawes and co-founded The Allman Betts Band.
In July of 2023, Betts released his debut solo full-length album, “Wild & Precious Life.” The record is a mix of blues, rock, folk, and country and features a dream team of a backing band as well as guest appearances from musical luminaries like Marcus King, Nicki Bluhm, and Derek Trucks.
Duane and his wife Lisa have now embarked on a different kind of journey here in Jackson with the debut of their Horseshoe Music Festival at The Virginian Lodge September 1 – 3. The three-day festival features music, art, food, fashion, yoga and wellness.
Betts and his wife, artist and designer Lisa Hadley Betts joined us in the KHOL studios.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Tuesday, August 29.
JACK CATLIN/KHOL: Duane, you’ve had a long musical journey through the years. You started off really young with your father being one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. Can you briefly touch on what it was like growing up like that and some of the experiences you had along the way?
DUANE BETTS: Yeah, that’s where I started playing in front of people. I know that sounds really privileged and it is. Playing in front of people was sitting in with the Allman Brothers Band as a teenager. But that’s the tradition of that band–to have folks sit in and friends and family sit in. It’s good training.
At 13, I switched from drums to guitar. And then as I became a guitar player, being around my dad and Warren Haynes every night …that had a pretty big impact. But then the first professional bands I was in were in Southern California. My mom still lives there and I’ve grown up on and off and in Southern California for a lot of my life, too. And so I started playing in bands in my late teens, and early twenties, I was having fun.
KHOL: Your new album, “Wild and Precious Life,” just dropped a little bit over a month ago and was partially written here in Jackson Hole. You’ve been quoted as saying “This is a record that guitar players will love, but at its core, it’s really a song record. It’s an album about who I am, where I come from and what I believe in.” Can you expand on that for us?
BETTS: There’s a lot of great guitar playing on there but it’s an accompaniment to the songs at the core. I started writing during the pandemic in the summer of 2020. I had a lot of time and I was here for pretty much that whole summer. I had ample time to get into a writing groove. And I wrote quite a few songs and some of them were held back for maybe the next record, but a couple of them made it. “Circles in the Stars” is one. I actually had that idea sitting around for quite a few years, so it wasn’t completely a new thing, but it didn’t become a song until then. Then we wrote the rest of the record down at my dad’s house in Florida. We recorded the record at Swamp Raga Studios [in Jacksonville, Fla.].
KHOL: There’s so much talent coming into town on the artisan side, and on the music side as well. Can you break down what you’re offering each of the three days?
BETTS: Musically, it’s basically all friends. I don’t think there are a lot of people coming that I haven’t met or played with. So it’s all in the family. It’s loose. It’s meant to be fun.
Night one is “Americana” night. We thought it would be appropriate with Robbie Robertson’s passing to include a focus on The Band material and Robbie Robertson material and do a tribute within that set to Robbie. And then the second night is Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, “Skulls and Peaches” is the name we came up with. And then on the last night, we have George Porter Junior coming and we’re doing some New Orleans funk and some blues. We’ll be featuring Jackie Greene, Steve Kimock, Daniel Donato, Maggie Rose, Nicki Bluhm and JD Simo, who’s one of my favorite guitar players. DJ Logic is coming in for the after-parties and we’re going to include some organic instrumentation with his DJ sets and have a fun after-party jam.
LISA HADLEY BETTS: The doors open at five. And the first night we invited a family from the Wind River reservation and they’re going to do a land acknowledgment ceremony and a powwow dance, which I feel is really an important way to start out any event here. I feel like you have to give back if you’re doing something fun.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Duane & Lisa Hadley Betts.