Derek Trucks Band heads to Durango
|Derek Trucks, second
from left, and his bandmates Yonrico Scott, Kofi Burbridge,
Todd Smallie and Mike Mattison, will be playing next
Tuesday at the Abbey.
Slide guitarist Derek Trucks is a musician people love
to write about. He started performing professionally at
the ripe age of 11. His uncle is Allman Brothers Band
drummer, Butch Trucks. He is married to blues singer/guitarist
Susan Tedeschi. He currently tours with his eponymous
band as well as the Allman Brothers, which has led to
frequent comparisons to the late Duane Allman. And then
comes the kicker: He’s only 24 years old.
But actually, the most intriguing aspect of Derek Trucks
is that he’s an innovative maestro who strives to
evolve musically rather than seek out commercial viability
– and he’s bringing his band to Durango. The
Derek Trucks Band plays the Abbey Theatre on March 2.
In a phone interview from Jackson Hole, Wyo., Trucks
said that his band members (Kofi Burbridge/keyboards,
flute and vocals; Todd Smallie/bass and vocals; Yonrico
Scott/drums, percussion and vocals; Mike Mattison/lead
vocals), despite having diverse musical backgrounds, are
close knit. He said they have developed a sort of ESP
when performing together, thanks to a typical six-days-a-week
“We really feel with this band that you have to
stay out there and really play to keep the music growing
the way we want it to, so we tour constantly,” Trucks
said. “Evolution musically is definitely a big part
of what we’re trying to do.”
Though the band delves deeply into improvisational music,
Trucks said he doesn’t consider it a jam band (though
its latest release, “Soul Serenade,” is nominated
for “Studio Album of the Year” at the Jammys,
the jamband Grammys).
“I think the mentality of this band is more a 1960s
jazz group with a lot of R&B and blues sensibilities,”
It’s clear he has great respect for his bandmates.
“They keep the fire lit underneath,” he said.
“It makes you constantly move forward. You need
people onstage constantly kicking your ass musically ...
I love playing with these guys.”
Trucks also loves touring with the Allman Brothers Band
– which he has been doing since 1999 – where
band members have become contemporaries rather than father
figures, he said.
“You can’t really get down and play music
with somebody if you feel that they’re on a different
level than you,” he said. “You have to be
able to stand toe to toe.”
He added that they are proud of what’s happening
with him, especially his uncle Butch and Oteil Burbridge,
the band’s bassist (and brother to Kofi).
With music such an integral part of Trucks’ life,
it’s fitting that he found a mate in Susan Tedeschi.
The couple met when Tedeschi was opening for the Allman
Brothers a few years ago in New Orleans.
“I would always joke with people, saying if I ever
met a woman that has Mahalia Jackson and Howlin’
Wolf records and Coltrane records, I would marry her on
the spot, and I had to step up to the plate,” he
But he added that it is great to partner with a strong
female musician who understands the realities of life
on the road.
“It’s easy to think it’s a 24-7 party,”
he said. “Once you’re out here you kind of
know the difference 85 every other relationship I’d
ever had, it was you get out on the road (for) two or
three weeks and questions start comin’ up –
it’s just impossible to deal with.”
As for whether their toddler Charlie will be a child
prodigy like his father: “There’s instruments
all over the house so if he shows any inclination towards
it, he’ll have a head start on a lot of people.”
It’s not surprising that Trucks would be attracted
to a woman with a powerful singing voice, because he listens
to a lot of vocalists. In fact, he said often when he’s
playing guitar, he thinks of vocalists like Otis Redding
and Aretha Franklin and “a lot of gospel.”
“I think that slide (guitar) is one of the instruments
you can really emulate the human voice with, and the human
voice seems to connect with people quicker than any other
instrument,” he said.
And connecting with audiences is important to Trucks,
who tries to tailor shows to audiences, which vary with
shows in places ranging from Durango and Denver to New
York to Alabama.
“You have to come in early and feel out the vibe
and try to write the set toward that,” he said.
Ultimately, the goal is to create music that touches
people. Trucks believes music is an intangible art form
that can “change the way you look at life.”
“I know personally, when you’re dealing with
a million things in life, an hour onstage can be pretty
therapeutic, and I think it’s that way for people
that really listen, too,” he said. “Hopefully
with this band on a good night, somebody’s comin’
away with somethin’.”