Derek Trucks Band | 02.24.09

Following his fingers during his incredible guitar solos felt like watching Picasso paint a masterpiece. 





The Pageant, St. Louis

If you have never seen Derek Trucks play the guitar, you really must – and as soon as possible. If you do, like I did last week at the Pageant, your jaw will likely drop in awe as you watch this not quite 30-year-old prodigy’s fingers glide across the strings and hear the sound that explodes from them. I think this must be similar to what it would have been like to see a young Carlos Santana in the clubs of San Francisco in the early 60s. You simply cannot believe he is this good.

Then again, when you look at Trucks’ impressive background, you start to have an idea why. He grew up immersed in music. His uncle, Butch Trucks, is the founding drummer of the Allman Brothers Band. Derek Trucks got his first paying guitar gig by the age of 11 and formed his first band at 12, sitting in with artists like Buddy Guy. He started the Derek Trucks Band when he was 15 and was already touring with the Allman Brothers Band. He played with them for a decade before becoming an official band member in 1999. He is the youngest player to make Rolling Stone’s "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" list.

As he strolled unassumingly onstage and picked up the guitar on Fat Tuesday, he seemed right at home and in his place, although the road mostly keeps him from his also constantly touring wife, blues singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi – eight years his senior and a phenomenon in her own right. As soon as he hit the first note, I knew I was in for an evening of extraordinary music.

Like Santana, Trucks sticks to what he does best – playing guitar – and leaves the vocal duties to someone else, lead vocalist Mike Mattison. Mattison has a deep and soulful voice. He looks like he’s about 25 but he sounds like he could be BB King. Rounding out the band are bassist Todd Smallie, drummer/percussionist Yonrico Scott, Count M’Butu on congas and percussion and Kofi Burbridge on keyboards and flute (brother of Allman Brothers bassist extraordinaire Oteil Burbridge).

Mattison’s vocals are as piercingly perfect as Trucks’ guitar, making for a lethal combination. They led the band through a good hour and a half set, highlighting songs from their recently released album, Already Free including single "Down in the Flood," "Down Don’t Bother Me," and  "Get What You Deserve" as well as Lee Dorsey cover "Get Out of My Life Woman" and jazz standard "My Favorite Things" among others.

The band is extremely tight and each member helps shape the rich, full and often funky sound. Trucks, however, is the focus and following his fingers during his incredible guitar solos felt like watching Picasso paint a masterpiece.

I think it goes without saying that if you like the blues and roots rock sound of the Allman Brothers Band, you will enjoy the Derek Trucks Band. Their music literally runs through his veins. He is often called the second coming of Duane Allman, his primary inspiration as a slide guitarist, and he’s even named for the band Derek and the Dominos featuring Duane Allman and Eric Clapton, who invited Trucks to open for him on his 2006 world tour.

Few musicians have had the talent and good fortune to share a stage with so many pioneers of blues and rock so early in life. I can’t even imagine how much better Trucks is going to get with age and I really can’t wait to see. | Amy Burger

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