QUICK PACE: Donavon Frankenreiter, left, and Devon Allman, embark on a summer tour at breakneck speed, playing all 50 states from Aug. 5 to Sept. 22. (Courtesy artists)
Devon and Donavon kick it up a notch
Devon Allman and Donavon Frankenreiter discussed their attempt to set a new Guinness world record for performing 50 concerts in 50 states in 49 days when Allman suddenly second-guessed himself over the phone.
“Why did I come up with this idea?” he said. “The closer it comes, it’s like, ‘Nice job, idiot.'”
Frankenreiter’s retort: “There’s no backing out now. We’ll make this happen.”
The “See It All American Tour” kicks off on Aug. 5 with two performances on that day. It starts at the Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis, Maryland before the two 50-year-old musicians, part of a five-piece band, head out on a three-hour drive north to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to play Musikfest.
From there, the group is scheduled to play the next 48 consecutive days across the country, including Alaska and Hawaii, closing the tour on Sept. 22 at BeachLife Ranch in Redondo Beach, California.
It would be a feat that stands on its own, according to rock guitarists Allman and Frankenreiter and their respective booking agents, Northstar Artists’ Kevin Daly and Partisan Arts’ Thomas Ponsart.
Multiple artists have done 50 shows in 50 states in 50 days or at least attempted the feat. The list includes George Thorogood, The Melvins, and most recently, Frank Turner, an English punk and folk singer-songwriter.
That’s why Devon and Donavon are taking it one step further by trimming their tour to 49 days to separate themselves from the pack.
Allman and Frankenreiter said they have both thought about trying to accomplish the feat for the past several years. It’s in their DNA. They’re both road warriors, spending the past 20 years touring venues of all sizes. They were both part of the Allman Family Revival tour in 2022, featuring family members tied to the Allman Brothers Band and others, performing original ABB tunes.
Devon Allman is the son of ABB co-founder Gregg Allman, and Devon has forged his own path over the past decade. Along the way, he became best friends with Frankenreiter through the jam band scene.
Last summer, Allman approached Frankenreiter with the concept, who in turn, quickly embraced the challenge.
“Before we knew it, we had our agents talking to each other, sketching the logistics of making it happen,” Allman said.
For Frankenreiter, the tour isn’t too far off from the 40 consecutive concerts he’s previously done on his own. Most recently, he performed 32 consecutive shows in Europe.
“Donavon is one of my hardest working clients,” Ponsart said. “I joked to Kevin that he’s done 40 dates straight and this is just 10 more. Donavon’s been kind of training me and himself.”
To this point, booking the route has been the biggest challenge. It took about three months to complete the itinerary after Allman’s idea surfaced in August 2022. That’s longer than it takes to book a typical tour of that size, extended over a longer period of time, Daly said. The majority of bookings were confirmed before the winter holiday break with loose ends tied up by early 2023.
“We had about a year to plan and it was clear what we needed to do,” Daly said. “Thomas suggested we start in the East and work with the time zones, which proved to be a smart strategy.”
The two agencies split the routing duties, which made things a little easier. Northstar booked most of the dates in the East Coast and Midwest, with Partisan taking care of the West Coast. It’s unusual to split a tour up like this one with so many moving parts and it took a joint effort to come together on the routing, Ponsart said.
Daly said, “We had shared calendars and stayed in touch with each other to make sure that we hit the states, not necessarily the cities, on the right dates and kept the drives as short as possible, all the while making sure we’re playing the right room.”
Between the two artists, they’ve previously played roughly 90% of the venues on the tour, which consists of theaters and clubs, with a few festivals thrown in the mix. The agents compared their tour histories before posting availability to collective buyers. They explained their mission to those promoters and the result was multiple offers coming in from every state, Daly said.
Two of the longest jumps by bus are consecutive shows. It’s close to an 11-hour stretch from Wichita, Kansas to Crested Butte, Colorado, a distance of 610 miles, according to Google Maps.
The next day, the group heads to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a 490-mile jaunt that takes about 10 hours and 15 minutes.
On a typical tour, those dates would be separated by a a day off or two. That’s obviously not happening with this tour, but Frankenreiter said the group will have extra bus drivers on board to handle the load.
Toward the end of the tour, the band is scheduled to fly to Anchorage, Alaska from Tacoma, Washington, jumping on a plane the next day to play Portland, Oregon.
One week later, they fly to Honolulu, Hawaii from Las Vegas to perform on Sept. 21 before flying back to the mainland to close the tour the next day in southern California.
“Flights get delayed all the time and that’s why we stressed the importance of getting the shortest flights at international airports that have more than just two flights going out for the day,” Ponsart said.
Devon and Donavon are contracted to play 75-minute sets, a mix of their own music, plus new tunes off “Rollers,” the six-song EP they collaborated on and released on Allman’s label, Create Records. The travel theme runs throughout the half-dozen songs.
The band extends to Matt Grundy, Frankenreiter’s longtime bassist; John Lum, Allman’s longtime drummer; and percussionist David Gomez.
Support acts, depending on the date and the market, are Matt Andersen, JD Simo, Matt Costa, Davy Knowles, Jackson Stokes and Goodnight Texas.
“We decided to do this tour and thought we should have some music behind it, so we went in the studio and put out the EP,” Frankenreiter said. “It’s cool to have a story like this behind a tour. People around you must be like-minded about this stuff. Playing every night is going to be the best part of the day. It’s the rest, load-in and load-out, soundcheck … those are the things that make you fry out and fizzle.”
Allman hopes the Herculean effort satisfies as many fans as possible across the country, keeping in mind that you can’t please everyone all of the time.
“So many times, we have a tour booked and you hear the grumblings: ‘No Alaska on this trip? Don’t you like the great outdoors?’ Or, ‘no one ever comes to Hawaii,'” he said. “This time, we’re going to come see all of you. We’re playing one night in every state, so this is the chance for you to go on tour too. Get on your bad motor scooter and ride to the next town to see us if we’re not in your town.”