Rollin’ And Tumblin’ And Truckin’ Along

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Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi (Photo by Derek McCabe)

Tedeschi Trucks Band has got some serious soul. The blues rock group is fresh out of the studio, having just finished their latest record. TTB is also touring through the end of the year and although it never stops, guitarist Derek Trucks likes it that way.

“When you’re on the road and the wind’s at your back, everything feels inspired. It’s constantly trying to keep the inspiration there and make everything fresh and new,” he said of being a musician. “Our band makes music in a really honest way.”

Formed in 2010, the band is led by Trucks on guitar and his wife, Susan Tedeschi on guitar and vocals as well as Kofi Burbridge, keyboards and flute; Tyler Greenwell, drums and percussion; J.J. Johnson, drums and percussion; Tim Lefebvre, bass guitar; Mike Mattison, harmony vocals; Mark Rivers, harmony vocals; Alecia Chakour, harmony vocals; Kebbi Williams, saxophone; Elizabeth Lea, trombone; and Ephraim Owens, trumpet. Their debut album, Revelator (2011) won the 2012 Grammy award for Best Blues Album, featuring songs like “Come See About Me,” “Don’t Let Me Slide,” “Midnight in Harlem,” “Bound for Glory” and “Simple Things.” They have since released three studio and two live albums.

Tedeschi Trucks Band (Photo by Stuart Levine Photography)

Trucks met his wife Susan in New Orleans when she was touring with The Allman Brothers Band. Rumor has it they fell in love over Chicago blues.

“We had a musical connection right out of the gates,” he said of their first meeting, which eventually grew into a marriage with two children and a successful professional collaboration. “In a lot of ways when you’re in a band, it feels a bit like a marriage anyway, so it’s a natural extension to me to work with my wife. It’s pretty amazing getting to do what we do together.”

Having grown up around music, it must have been his destiny when at 9 years old, Trucks bought his first guitar at a yard sale for $5. He took to playing right away and recalls a time when his parents took him and his brother to an annual Jazz Fest in Jacksonville, FL, where he saw Ray Charles and Miles Davis.

“That was one of my first musical memories, but the first show I ever went to was when I was 6 years old. I wanted to see Michael Jackson’s Thriller tour and I fell asleep for some of it,” said Trucks, whose parents introduced him to great music early on, including the likes of Ray Charles and BB King. “I feel fortunate to have witnessed some of that. Just hearing my dad tell stories about the power of that music and the look in his eyes when he spoke about it, I knew it was important. That’s the first music that really hit me as a child.”

Trucks’ musical lineage runs deep. In 1999, he became an official member of the Allman Brothers band, an opportunity he never thought would come. Fifteen years since joining the legendary group, he was still playing right alongside the greats, something he never envisioned would last for so long.

“I learned a lot right out of the gate, even to the very last day. I had to think about music and keeping the integrity at all times,” he said. “It was an amazing way for the group to go out. Our last show was in 2014 and it was pretty powerful.”

Of the three most influential records he listened to growing up, Trucks cites Derek and the Dominos’ Live at The Fillmore and Layla album, and Elmore James’ The Best of Elmore James. Those artists, he says were there from the beginning, as he cut his teeth to emulate Eric Clapton.

“There’s some beautiful material on there and the Allmans’ record also shaped a lot of how I thought about music,” said Trucks. “Elmore James’ Electric Slide songbook was the catalyst for everything that came after that. They were good building blocks.”

Gearing up for TTB’s eighth annual residency at the Beacon Theatre, Trucks said it is like going back to home turf for the band. March of 2000 was the first year that Trucks did a run with the Allman Brothers at the Beacon. It was also the same time he and Tedeschi had their first child.

“He was up in the dressing room during the performance, just a few weeks old. Everyone who is a part of the Beacon is home to us,” he said. “We really know the place and when we get there, it’s kind of like checking in.”

Trucks shared that a lot of the music on the band’s new record, as well as previous ones, were directly inspired by their children, which he believes is the same for every parent.

“People write songs out of things they’re going through. My dad always emphasized that it’s not how much you play, but how you play a single note and the space in between. Listen as much as you can and find what inspires you. That’s what’s always driven the great musicians,” he advised. “Hearing how they talk about the music that inspires them; they light up and that’s what’s going to carry you.”

Tedeschi Trucks Band will perform at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan on Oct. 5, 6, 9, 10, 12 and 13. For tickets to the show, visit www.tedeschitrucksband.com.

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Jennifer Fauci is the managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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