Derek Trucks: sovereign of six strings

At the age of 28, Derek Trucks has written, toured and performed more music than most musicians in their entire careers. At 9 years old, he was already commanding large audiences with his superior proficiency at the slide guitar. Nephew of original Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, Derek joined up with the band and, along with fellow guitarist Warren Haynes, gave the Allmans their freshest lineup since the inception of the famous Southern rockers. He is currently touring with his own outfit, the Derek Trucks Band, who will be performing in Rochester at the Water Street Music Hall on Sunday, Nov. 11. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $29.50.

Lamron: You played the Crossroads guitar festival with Eric Clapton back in July. There seemed to be a real element of the classic guitar legends like Clapton and Jeff Beck sort of passing the torch down to the new generation of guitarists like John Mayer, Robert Randolph and yourself.

DT: I think as far as that circle goes, there's definitely some of that going on and I think Eric [Clapton] personally, he is really conscious of the fact that he has the ability to help out guys like myself. At least for me, he was really great at getting me out there and giving me the opportunity to play in front of audiences that I would never have otherwise.

Lamron: You and Warren Haynes bring the Allman Brothers their best two-guitar dynamic since the days of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. Do you feel like you could compare yourself to one of those two guitarists or do you think of yourself as something entirely different for the band?

DT: You know, those guys were both huge influences on both me and Warren so, if anything you're taking something, like with Duane, gone by 25 years old, you're hopefully extending where they would have gone, but I think there's so many musicians that you take from, I think it's hard to point to one person.

Lamron: Would you say at this point you would consider the Derek Trucks Band or the Allman Brothers Band

your primary focus right now?

DT: I've always considered it to be my own group, but the Allman Brothers, it's been a great run. We've had I think eight years with the band, so there's been a lot of great music played. I've always known that at the end of the run I'd still be doing my thing and the Allman Brothers help me carry on someone else's legacy, one that I'm proud to be a part of and you know, they are partly responsible for me playing in the first place so I feel a little bit indebted. I still feel like I'm putting the bulk of my energy into my own thing.

Lamron: You were known to be performing gigs as early as 12 years old. Do you remember your first gig?

DT: Yea, the first show I played, I think I was 9 years old in a local blues band in Jacksonville and I toured with them at 9, 10 and 11 years old (laughs). I remember a lot of those gigs. With that blues group, we played a show in Toronto and it was really the first time I did any serious traveling. I remember at 9 years old sitting in front of the RV and watching the whole country go by. All that stuff sticks with you.

Lamron: How do you think that had an affect on you, touring at such a young age?

DT: I think I got a different perspective on things. You get to see the country, you get to see kind of the underbelly of life. I was fortunate to have my parents around; they didn't exactly shield me from what was going on, so when I came of age it wasn't such a shock to me, really, what goes on in the world. A lot of times when people are released into the world, they don't have what it takes to deal with it.

Lamron: Did your parents take positively to your touring around the country?

DT: I think at first they were apprehensive. My dad was around the Allman Brothers early on, so he knew all the ups and downs and negativity that goes along with it too. But I think once he saw what was going on musically, he thought it was kind of his duty to allow whatever it was to grow and not stifle it. He took me around the country, keeping me safe and somewhat sane.

Lamron: Playing shows at a young age, did you feel any pressure sharing a stage with people like Bob Dylan and Joe Walsh?

DT: When I played with Dylan I think I was 11. You're kind of unfazed at that age. I wasn't oblivious to what was going on but you just kind of do what you do at that point. I knew who Dylan was, but it didn't register like it does now. My dad was a huge fan of Dylan; he wrote his senior thesis on him. With a lot of those guys I was lucky that when I did run into them, I either really didn't know who they were (laughs) or was just unfazed by it.

Lamron: You have been known to play live alongside your wife, Susan Tedeschi. Do you feel like you complement each other on stage?

DT: Yea, it's not often you get to share those moments on stage with people. It worked out well, we put a band together, played a handful of shows last summer and around New Years we're doing some shows together. Maybe we'll get an album or so out of it and maybe tour more with it down the road.

Lamron: Speaking of albums, you have this Rochester show, but what are your plans for the future? Are you going to continue touring or are there plans for another album with the Derek Trucks Band?

DT: We try to get everything in at once. The touring, up to this point, never stops. If you do a record you take 10-12 days off and knock it out. I think this year, or certainly next year, we'll get an album in and we're touring pretty hard between now and then. We're doing this run in the states and then we head over to Japan for a few weeks and Hawaii on the way home, so there's a lot of shows on the schedule.

Lamron: Thanks Derek, and good luck at the show on Sunday!