Duane Betts & Palmetto Motel with Cordovas-Homestead Bar & Kitchen – Morristown, NJ

Duane Betts & Palmetto Motel with Cordovas 

Homestead Bar & Kitchen – Morristown, NJ – August 20, 2023

Review & Photos – Rebecca Wolf 


Duane Betts and Palmetto Motel have been been continuing on the road touring Betts’ new album “Wild & Precious Life.” On the road with Betts are Johnny Stachela on guitar, John Ginty on keyboards, Pedro Arevalo on bass and Vince Fossett, Jr on percussion. At their stop at the Homestead in Morristown, NJ the band was supported by Cordovas, an Americana/Country Rock based in Nashville. Cordovas are on the road touring their fourth studio album The Rose of Aces, released this month. 

Cordovas opened their set with “High Roller” and “What is Wrong?” both from the new album, and performed several additional numbers from the album, as well as songs from their prior releases, including “Rain On the Rail,” “The Game” and “Destiny” from 2020’s Destiny Hotel “Frozen Rose, “I’m the One Who Needs You Tonight” and “Standin’ On the Porch” from 2018’s That Santa Fe Channel. Throughout the almost hour-long set, the band members exuded tremendous musical energy and emotion. Lead singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and founding band member, Joe Firstman, performed with enthusiasm and intensity as he moved about the stage, made faces and occasionally stuck out his tongue, while Lucca Sofia fiercely jammed on his guitar and tossed his mane of curls. Patrons standing in front of the stage remained actively engaged in the music, whether they were newcomers to the band (discovering them as Duanes Betts’ opener) or were already Cordovas’ fans. 

The patrons at the Homestead gravitated closer to the stage, further crowding the dance floor, as Duane Betts and Palmetto Motel emerged onstage. Betts’ new solo album, Wild & Precious Life, is a reflection of his Florida roots and personal musical journey. Betts has had a life steeped in music, with his DNA and decades of experience to prove it (playing guitar since childhood.) While Betts continues to develop into his own artist, creating music that illustrates the breadth of his talents, he also demonstrates the ability to showcase iconic numbers written and performed by his father Dickey Betts and the Allman Brothers Band. During the performance at the Homestead, Betts and his bandmates seamlessly mixed the old with the new. The set opened with “Bali Moon” and “Saints to Sinners” from Wild & Precious Life before seamlessly moving into a cover of the Allman Betts number “Rivers Run,” which Betts penned and sang lead vocals on for the band’s 2020 album Bless Your Heart. Often when music is new you witness a lack of engagement from fans who tend to connect to the songs they have a longstanding connection to. However, this was not the case with Betts new music. Fans eagerly and enthusiastically watched and listened, while those who’d been avidly listening to the album since its release sang along. 

The band additionally covered Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well,” before thrilling the crowd with a performance of The Allman Brothers’ “Blue Sky.” As the younger  Betts looks and sounds extraordinarily like his legendary father, the audience remained in awe throughout the number, as they sang and danced with unabashed passion. As the music flowed into additional songs from Wild & Precious Life, “Stare at the Sun” and “Cold Dark World,” the spirit in the room remained electric, only to be raised to a greater frenzy when the band broke into The Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post,” playing a phenomenal extended instrumental jam. This tremendous evening of music ended with “Waiting on a Song” from Betts’ new album, starting and finishing with the new and smoothly melding the “old” in the middle. Great music stands the rest of time. How lucky we are to still get to hear that great music… both the old and the new.