Derek Trucks,  Ick's Pick

Ick’s Pick (Week II): Derek Trucks Band

Welcome to week II of my Ick’s Pick series – 52 weeks of hot new album action! My pick for the second “release Tuesday” of the year comes from the Derek Trucks Band. Derek Trucks is the nephew of original Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, so grew up very musically inclined, to say the least. The “Derek” was in tribute to Derek and the Dominos, the blues-rock group put together by Eric Clapton, and whose album included the slide guitar work of Duane Allman. Derek was drawn to the slide guitar at an early age, and by the age of 11 or 12, was playing gigs in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.

Derek’s all of 29 years old now, and is already releasing his 7th album with the Derek Trucks Band – Already Free (his first DTB album was released in 1997, when he was 18 years old).

I’ve seen the Allman Brothers a handful of times, and only knew of Derek through his association with the band (he has toured and played in the band over the years). But I’d never taken the time to track down his work with his own band. So in listening to Already Free, there’s an instant familiarity, but at the same time, a sense of wonder at how mature and accomplished Derek and the band sound.

The album features some guests, including another guitar whiz, Doyle Bramhall II (he and Derek have been playing a lot with Clapton the last couple years), and Derek’s wife, blues singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi.

Standout tracks for me include the album opener, a gritty cover of Dylan’s “Down in the Flood”; “Maybe This Time”, which features Bramhall on guitar; “Don’t Miss Me”, one of the many tracks featuring DTB vocalist Mike Mattison, with some great blues riffs and tempo changes;  but my favorite out of the gate is “Sweet Inspiration” – a song written by Memphis/Muscle Shoals songwriters Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham (hear them do it). It’s a raucous and joyful gospel rave up, and it’ll have you dancing around the house. The Hammond B-3 intro sounds straight off the Stax label; and the combination of Mattison and Tedeschi’s harmonies, Derek’s slide guitar, the B3, and the amazing percussion work come together for 4 minutes and 39 seconds of halle-frickin-lujah! Track it down.

Buy: Already Free

Links: DTB Official Site | MySpace | Already Free EPK

6 Comments

  • Michael

    “Days is Almost Gone” absolutely kills it for me. I highly recommend going back and picking up Songlines and Soul Serenade. Derek is hands down one of the best guitar players roaming this rock.

  • Jesse

    Derek really is amazing. I got to see him when he was 13, and he was better THEN than most chumps are now. I’ve since seen him several times, and he really is great. He’s a jazz player as much as he is a rock player. See for yourself

  • Cam

    Slightly off topic, but Spooner Oldham was just named to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Sideman Category). Amazingly humble guy with an incredible list of credits:

    http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090114/ARTICLES/901140328/1011/NEWS?Title=Oldham_heads_to_hall_of_fame

    I also got to see Derek with the Allman Brothers Band in 1993 when he was 13/14 or so. Not only was he great, but I believe he wasn’t even supposed to be on the tour and subbed in last minute when Dickey Betts was unavailable..

  • jazzmaster

    Derek is absolutely incredible. Certainly near the top of my list of favorite guitaritsts. I have most of his previous albums, but not this one… yet. I love Susan’s voice and playing, too, and the two of them together is pure heaven. In fact, Derek played on one or two tracks on her latest release as well.

    And, let us not forget Mr. Doyle Bramhall II! His style is so unique (he plays left-handed on a right-hand strung guitar ~ so it’s upside-down, basically). So cool.

    I was fortunate enough to see Clapton’s last tour with these two young legends-in-the-making. Doyle was with EC on his previous outing, too, but you could see how much Eric appreciated Derek’s playing. He would step back, let Derek take the spotlight, and just look on in amazement (like the rest of us).

    And, of course, the grand finale was when Robert Cray (who had opened the show) came on for the encore and all four guitarists played “Crossroads”. Beautiful.

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