Great South Bay Music Festival

Dickey Betts says it’s been “a little scary” returning to the stage this year after a four-and-a-half-year retirement/hiatus. But it’s certainly better than the alternative.

“When I turned 70 years old I just figured I wanted to go fishing and play golf and mess around and stuff, so I decided I would retire,” the Allman Brothers Band co-founder, now 74, tells Billboard. “Well, I got bored as hell sitting around here. Then I do this Rolling Stone interview — just to be friendly, I wasn’t really working on a career or nothing — and when it came out the promoters starting calling me, offering me good money to go out and play again. I was bored, and they wanted me back. That’s the way it happened.”

The new Dickey Betts Band, a septet which includes his son Duane, also on guitar, played two shows during May, including one in the Allmans’ ground zero of Macon, Ga., and has another nine shows booked in the coming months, starting July 15 at the Great South Bay Music Festival in Patchogue, N.Y.

Here are nine things to know about Betts and his return to active duty:

1. Betts was overwhelmed by not only the turnout but also by the enthusiasm and love he’s gotten from fans so far for his return. “I’m really flattered. I know it’s unfortunately because Gregg (Allman) and the band have, you know, gone away. It’s just me and Jaimoe left, and I know that’s part of it, which is the sad part. But it’s reality, and the good part is I’m still here and I can still play and I know how to put a good band together and play the music.”

2. Betts admits his playing is “a little rusty, a little unimaginative right now, but it won’t take long, I’ll work my way back out there. It’s sort of like Tiger Woods; You can’t just come back and start winning golf tournaments again.”

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