Derek Trucks Band
Derek Trucks has been touted as the most awe-inspiring slide guitarist playing today, and guitar heroes as legendary as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana have called on his services. One listen explains why: his genius for nuanced, bluesy lyricism and an ability to summon a variety of stylistic flavors, from the breathy detail of a saxophone to the growl of a well-tempered chainsaw, mark him a master of his instrument at the age of 33.
For Trucks, youth was never a hindrance. Born in 1979 in Jacksonville, Florida, and named after a much-loved Eric Clapton album, he was on stage at 9 years of age and touring as a headliner by 11. When his fingers were too small to hold down the strings of his guitar, he took up the slide, which soon became a primary element in his approach. At 15, he had formed the core of his longtime road band. Before reaching 20, he had already jammed with many of his heroes, including Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, and Buddy Guy. He is the youngest musician named in Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time, being recently selected by a wide range of musicians and journalists to #16 in that hallowed hierarchy.
Trucks spent his teen years touring, growing physically and musically, and developing his group, The Derek Trucks Band. He averaged over 200 shows a year even as he completed most of his high school studies with on the road schooling. By his late teens, he broke away from the child prodigy novelty aspect of his appearances and diligently built a reputation for walk-in, crawl-out shows that featured extended solos and summoned an intoxicating collision of musical influences, from electric blues and Jamaican reggae, to modern jazz and Indian ragas.
Trucks reached adulthood, and one-night encounters turned into ongoing relationships. In 1999, while still leading the DTB, Trucks was asked to join The Allman Brothers Band as a permanent member, an offer he accepted on the condition that he’d be able to concurrently pursue his work as a leader of his own band. In 2006, he was offered the chance to perform on Eric Clapton’s world tour as a featured soloist. It was an honor he could not refuse, even as it led to a year-long juggle of commitments to the DTB, the Allmans, and Clapton, with barely a day at home.
Trucks has never been one to limit his musical focus, he’s an avid jazz fan and lover of classical Indian music, and he’s always been one to follow his muse. He made pilgrimages to the school of sarod master Ali Akbar Khan and recorded with jazz legend McCoy Tyner. In 2001, his musical passion having converged with the personal, he married the blues guitarist Susan Tedeschi, whom he met when she opened for the Allman Brothers in 1999.
Until recently, Trucks’s recordings have measured his progress with the DTB. Their recorded debut, The Derek Trucks Band was released in 1997. Out of Madness followed a year later, and in 2002, Joyful Noise marked their major label jump to Columbia Records and significant stylistic expansion in the band’s repertoire. Soul Serenade (2003) followed suit, and Live at Georgia Theatre (2004) caught the band’s growing reputation for high-energy shows. Songlines (2006) found the DTB settling into a stylistic identity with Mattison handling lead vocals, and the live Roadsongs (2009) caught the DTB in top form with a horn section, just before the group went on indefinite hiatus.
In early 2008, Trucks took advantage of a few months off the road to finish building his home studio, which he dubbed Swamp Raga. A year later he recorded Already Free, an album heavy on original songs that proved a significant turning point in his career. It won a Grammy in 2010, establishing a new, song-oriented direction for Trucks, and set the stage for a musical partnership with his wife that eventually culminated in 2011 with the formation of the Tedeschi Trucks Band and the release of Revelator. His two most recent Grammys, for Revelator and a Lifetime Achievement award for his membership in the Allman Brothers Band (Trucks is one of the youngest living musicians to receive the accolade), prove him to be on a path that has yet to realize its full potential or accomplishment.
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