Shed Archive: Derek Trucks Plays The Shed

Way back in 2006, The Shed was really starting to get it’s footing in booking national acts and we landed some rock and roll royalty in Derek Trucks! Check out the two stories from when we announced the big show and when Derek came to town a month later!

Harley Shop Gets Trucks
By Steve Wildsmith (Originally published in The Daily Times,  March 2006)

Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson & Buell on West Lamar Alexander Parkway in Maryville will kick off its 2006 concert season with an April 1 performance by guitar prodigy and Allman Brothers Band member Derek Trucks.

Trucks, nephew of Allman Brothers Band percussionist and founding member Butch Trucks, was performing professionally in his early teens, and his own group, the Derek Trucks Band, recently released the critically acclaimed album “Songlines.” Trucks joined the Allman Brothers as co-lead guitarist in 1999 and juggles the responsibilities of both groups.

The April 1 concert, which takes place at “The Shed” at the Harley dealership (1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway), will be a fund-raiser to benefit WDVX-FM, 89.9. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate and are on sale now at the Maryville dealership and at the store’s Gatlinburg location, as well as at both Disc Exchange music stores in Knoxville and through Tickets Unlimited (656-4444).

WDVX, based in downtown Knoxville (and famous for its humble beginnings in a trailer in Anderson County) is a regionally focused grassroots radio station whose diverse format includes bluegrass, Americana, country, western swing, blues, classic rock, mountain music, bluegrass, gospel, Celtic, folk and roots music from around the world. The on-air staff is primarily volunteer with support derived from individual donations, benefit concerts and local businesses, and the station itself is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, presentation and advancement of American roots music, according to a dealership press release.

Trucks’ performance kicks off the dealership’s “Party on the Patio” concert series, which will feature rock and blues acts on Saturday’s at the “The Shed,” a 16,000-square-foot covered music pavilion adjacent to the dealership.

“This event is a great way for Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson to support the music native to our area of East Tennessee,” said Clint La Follette, the dealership’s marketing director. “We enjoy music and hope to promote live concerts and music to the benefit of our community. As a fund-raiser for WDVX, the concert proceeds will provide them with much-needed funding, allowing them to continue their mission of providing a grassroots movement of support for music that is right at home here in East Tennessee.

“Having a band of this stature allows us to continue to up the level of the types of acts that we can expose our community to at a affordable cost without having to travel far to experience it.”

Most of the concerts will be free; admission will be charged for bigger names such as Trucks and a June 17 performance by Sugar Hill Records recording artist Scott Miller and the Commonwealth. The lineup for the “Party on the Patio” series will be announced at a later date.

Trucks first made a name for himself when he mounted his first tour at the age of 12. His playing style — he’s been hailed as a master of the slide guitar and his recent album earned accolades by everyone from The Wall Street Journal (“he is the most awe-inspiring electric slide guitar player performing today”) to USA Today (“Trucks just might be this generation’s greatest rock guitarist”) — combines the blues and, in recent years, a diversity of world music influences.

He’s been named one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by Rolling Stone and was recently tapped by the legendary Eric Clapton to play guitar for Clapton’s upcoming 2006 world tour.

For more information on the April 1 concert or upcoming “Party on the Patio” performances, contact Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson & Buell at 977-1669.

SIX-STRING SAMURAI: Derek Trucks on the Allman Brothers, Playing with Eric Clapton and His Own Band
By: Steve Wildsmith (Originally Published in The Daily Times, March 2006)

Judging by his schedule this summer, it’s safe to conclude that Derek Trucks is either (a) insane, (b) a workaholic or (c) one of the most dedicated, as well as one of the most talented, guitarists on the planet.

Probably a little of all three. Even to Trucks himself, his decision to tour this summer with his own band as the opening act for the Allman Brothers Band, for which he also plays guitar, while juggling guitar duties on rocker Eric Clapton’s summer tour — all at the same time — makes his stomach churn.

Factor in trying to balance responsibilities as a husband (to singer-songwriter Susan Tedeschi) and father to two small children (Trucks is only 26), and it can get downright nauseating.

“When Blake (Budney, the Derek Trucks Band’s road manager) sent me my schedule for this summer, I told him immediately not to send it to me anymore,” Trucks told The Daily Times this week, chuckling with equal parts weariness and anxiety. “I don’t want to see how crazy it looks on paper. It seems less overwhelming if I don’t have it right in front of me, staring me in the face.”

In reality, such a hectic schedule should be nothing new to Trucks, who’s been performing professionally since he was 9. He comes by his musical virtuosity honestly — his uncle, Butch Trucks, is the drummer and one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band. The young Trucks first shared the stage with the group when he was 12.

As a boy, Trucks proved his virtuosity by mastering the guitar in a few short years. He picked up the instrument for the first time when his father, a manual laborer raising a family in Jacksonville, Fla., while his more famous brother toured the world as an Allman, bought a used guitar for $5 at a yard sale. Trucks, who had grown up on the music of his uncle’s band, immediately conjured the ghost of band founder Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle wreck early in the band’s career.

It was only two years later that Trucks was touring the Jacksonville area with his own band, Derek and the Dominators. Emulating Duane Allman and blues great Elmore James, he began playing slide guitar, but by the time he was 14, he began to incorporate elements of Indian classical music and jazz into his repertoire. His teenage years were a dizzying combination of touring and education — both in pursuit of a diploma and his dream.

Thanks to his connections with uncle Butch, Trucks was introduced to musicians that included Buddy Guy, Bob Dylan, Col. Bruce Hampton and Willie Nelson. But it was Trucks’ guitar playing that earned him a spot on the stage alongside these icons, as well as in jam sessions with groups such as Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic and Phish.

Gradually, Trucks’ various groups grew into the Derek Trucks Band, which today includes bassist Todd Smallie, drummer Yonrico Scott, keyboardist and flute player Kofi Burbridge and vocalist Mike Mattison, who’s joined the fold for the band’s most recent album, “Songlines,” released earlier this year. (An unofficial sixth member, percussion guru Count M’butu, took part in the “Songlines” sessions as well.)

“I think this is our most complete album to date,” Trucks said. “I think it’s too early to tell, really, where it fits in the whole grand scheme of things (the Derek Trucks Band released its first album in 1997), but it’s definitely a turning point for the group, and I think Mike was the missing piece.

“He’s just a great guy to be around, and he’s hugely talented. We have to have guys who are both, and it’s great having somebody who’s attitude and music fit with everyone else in the group. For a long time, we wanted to write tunes for a vocalist, but we really didn’t have the right voice to write for. Now, it feels like all the pieces are there.”

“Songlines” has a distinctively exotic feel, thanks to M’butu’s African-based percussive rhythms and the influences of world music from India and the Caribbean on Trucks’ composing. Of course, it’s anchored in the blues and Southern rock, which Trucks was weaned on, but the flavors combine for a rich stew that’s received glowing reviews from the music press.

Already a veteran, however, Trucks has learned over the years not to give a lot of thought to the ink his work receives, good or bad.

“You try to let that stuff just kind of roll off your back, because you have to focus on what you do,” he said. “Luckily, with two young kids running around, I don’t have time to take that [stuff] serious. I have other things on my mind. Besides, you don’t really put that much weight in that stuff, whether it’s good or bad press, because you have to have some amount of confidence in what you do. Even if they’re over the top about it or if they don’t understand it at all, hopefully you know what you do and how much better that you want to get and where you actually stand.

“And of course it’s always nice when you actually do release a record and the feedback is positive. It keeps you on the path of what you’re doing, because when you do a record and you get that involved in something, even when it feels good to you, you’re really not sure how good it is.

“But you have to take the good press with a grain of salt, too,” he said. “It’s great to be recognized, but you don’t really feel like all the sudden you’re playing that much better or the band’s took this huge leap. I think a lot of what’s being said is a result of all the legwork of years and years of hitting the road starting to catch up, and that’s a nice feeling.”

Of course, Trucks can’t escape the attention he gets for being a member of his other band, the Allman Brothers. Although he’s been sharing the stage with the legendary group, which rose to fame in the early 1970s and gave birth to the Southern rock genre, for almost a decade, he was asked to join in 1999. The band, founded on the sound of two incredible guitarists — Duane Allman and co-founder Dickey Betts — trading licks and matching each other solo-for-solo, had gone through several great ax-players over the years, and suddenly Trucks was catapulted into the position of playing alongside Betts. (Betts has since been replaced by Gov’t Mule founder Warren Haynes.)

It was with some measure of trepidation, Trucks said, that he approached the band about the opportunity to tour with Clapton this summer.

“It’s one of those things much like when I got the offer to join the Allman Brothers — it’s just kind of a no-brainer, and I knew I had to do it,” he said. “It’s a huge honor to be asked, because Eric has seen it all and been through it all. He’s made classic records two or three times, and `Layla’ (which Clapton recorded as part of Derek and the Dominoes, alongside Duane Allman) is the reason I started playing music.

“I was really surprised at how supportive everybody was. I just told them that I couldn’t not do it, and they were excited. Clapton was one of those guys around before the Allman Brothers Band, so they had a huge respect for him from the beginning. If it had been anyone else, they might have been freaked out, but with him, they understood.”

Saturday’s show at “The Shed,” on the Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson & Buell lot in Maryville, will be one of the few times Trucks won’t be pulling double duty — this summer, the Derek Trucks Band will open for the Allman Brothers, meaning Trucks will be playing the entire night. And when the Allman Brothers aren’t playing, he’ll be jetting to wherever Clapton is performing to play alongside the man whom inspired English graffiti in the 1960s that read “Clapton is God.”

Crazy or not, Trucks looks at it as the opportunity of a lifetime.

“It’s insane, but it’s going to be an honor to do it,” he said. “Playing with him and getting to hit all these places he’s playing, all these venues around the world that I’ve always wanted to visit — it’s amazing. Plus, it’s going to be family-friendly, so my wife and my kids will be able to tag along when we rehearse for three weeks in the south of France.

“My life has just been an interesting run that way. Everything just falls into place. It’s overwhelming at times, but to do the Allman Brothers thing for all these years and then have Eric Clapton call you, you realize how fortunate you are.”

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *