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Author: Subject: New Derek Trucks Article

Zen Peach





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  posted on 5/20/2007 at 09:22 PM


Plotting Derek Trucks' 'Songlines'
By SAMANTHA SPECTOR
FOR THE JOURNAL NEWS

On Tour PR The Derek Trucks Band brings Latin-infused, '50s inspired, jazz-rock-funk to Peekskill's Paramount Center for the Arts tomorrow.

Talent doesn't know age. Derek Trucks is proof. The guitar prodigy (our words, not his) has shared the stage with rock idols Eric Clapton and Warren Haynes and been named to Rolling Stone magazine's list of "100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time" (note: Trucks was No. 81 while Duane Allman, whom he has succeeded on slide guitar in the Allman Brothers Band, was No. 2).

He has been on the road for nearly two decades and played thousands of shows as he honed the inherent talent that comes along with his rock lineage (his uncle is Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks). Trucks, by the way, is 27 years old.

"I've been in some great situations, whether with The Allmans or Clapton," says Trucks in a soft, Southern twang. The Jacksonville, Fla., native is clearly influenced by his roots; whether talking about his family or his music, Trucks maintains a humble attitude and even over the phone, the smile in his voice is evident.

"You get so much out of that [playing with established artists]. But you have to always realize that it is their legacy. I play a piece in that legacy, but long before Warren or I were in the band [referring to The Allmans], the band was firmly planted in what they were doing. I think you have to realize that that's their thing."

"When I started my band, I thought, it would be nice to have a niche, something to call your own thing. That's kind of the mission from that point on."

Trucks' own band, called The Derek Trucks Band, is set to bring their own brand of Latin-infused, '50s-inspired, jazz-rock-funk to The Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill tomorrow. Trucks - along with keyboardist Kofi Burbridge (brother of Allman bassist Oteil Burbridge), bassist Todd Smallie, drummer Yonrico Scott, vocalist Mike Mattison and percussionist Count M'Butu - look forward to a tour for their fans after a brief hiatus.

"I think for me it's fortunate you know, starting at the smallest level and just playing tiny clubs," says Trucks. "To build from a place of only a handful of people to a few hundred to where the crowds are just steadily grown, I just feel really lucky. It's just what you know, what you are comfortable playing."

"I don't play out of fear of messing up, but it definitely drives you to stay on top of your game. And for the other guys in the band, for the other musicians around you, you don't want to be the guy holding this up."

"It helps to be playing with a bunch of guys that challenges you. To be playing with a guy that has heard you play over a thousand times and then pull something out that he hasn't heard before, it keeps things interesting. It keeps it fresh and keeps everyone guessing."

In 2006, The Derek Trucks Band released its sixth album, "Songlines," the band's best studio effort to date. Filled with heady, Latin-influenced beats and scorching licks courtesy of Trucks himself, "Songlines" has brought an already high-energy catalog to another level. Mattison, the newest addition to the band, is the perfect vocal counterpoint to Trucks' guitar, often echoing the instrument's pitch with his own gospel-influenced tenor (the best example of which can be heard on "I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free)," originally recorded by soul singer Nina Simone.

"I think the songs that we were drawn to on this record were definitely coming out of this mind-set of turning out the music we are listening to," says Trucks.

"A lot of times, it [song inspiration] is just an idea that you have. There are times that I just throw down a four-track or throw out a drum line or just a guitar track. Other times, it's a vague idea that you hash out with everyone. And still other times, we start writing with a complete tune and work it until we get it to where we want it."

"Actually on this record, the producer, Jay Joyce, would listen to songs I'd given him. He has this real objectivity and is a great songwriter and after I laid out ideas, he would give the track what it needed; maybe another piece, a bridge, a chord; whatever it was, he was incredibly helpful."

The overall sound of "Songlines" is inspired by the '50s and '60s, when the music was uncomplicated, pure soul with none of the production "tricks" used in most of today's rock records. "Songlines" is about freedom: of expression, self and of course, music.

"We don't want our music to be retro in the sense that we try to re-create those times," says Trucks, "but I think as far as the sound and the equipment that the band uses, the rawness that we produce, I think it's a conscious effort to try to keep it honest."

"It all lies in the hands of the people playing the instruments. The guitar in the hand is part of the equation, you need to know your instrument to get to the heart of the song."

After the praise of the album, I mention how many times I have seen Trucks perform - with Clapton and the Allmans, as well as with his own band. He has been called "Clapton's protégé," a term he deems laughable; and yet there is some truth there. There has to be a reason, I say, he went on tour at 9 years old.

So I ask, does it get to him, all the accolades and titles and lists and media attention?

"You can't put too much weight in that stuff," says Trucks. "To do what we do, you have to have a certain sense of who you are and what you do. If people's perceptions go past it, you just have to ..."

[Pause] "You have to keep the humility. I'm lucky to have a big close family at home and there is just no way they would let me get away with [getting a big head]. I mean, I've got two young kids, when I'm home I spend most of the day digging up worms in the yard."

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/21/2007 at 06:59 AM

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 5/21/2007 at 04:59 PM
What a cool guy. He plays great music, treats his fans like family, and treats his family like gold! Makes me proud that I have never given up the dream of playing music! Even if I don't do it for a living like Derek.

 

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Peach Pro



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  posted on 5/21/2007 at 05:06 PM
People need to stop talking about him as some sort of child prodigy. He was one, but that time has passed. He's 27! Child prodigy has that sort of novelty feel to it. Now he's just a really good [adult] guitar player.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 5/21/2007 at 05:17 PM
quote:
Pause] "You have to keep the humility. I'm lucky to have a big close family at home and there is just no way they would let me get away with [getting a big head]. I mean, I've got two young kids, when I'm home I spend most of the day digging up worms in the yard."


(Thanks for sharing, Eric!)

 

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