Derek Trucks show: don't overlook this guy
I don't usually post things like this, but...
last night I saw something that really surprised me and blew me away. I went to see the Derek Trucks Band at a local club and I've gotta encourage other players to check him out. I confess I knew him only from the Allman Brothers connection and various guitar mag articles: I don't own any of his CDs (though I will soon). I expected sort of a roots blues/rock show, but was I ever surprised. He's a phenomenal player, with or without the slide. Great rhythmic and harmonic sense, terrific tone, totally cool phrasing...
Having played a lot of years, there aren't many guitar tricks I see where I don't more-or-less understand what was happening. I may not necessarily be able to reproduce what I heard/saw, but at least I get what the player was doing. This show was different: Trucks morphed really peculiar styles and licks in totally unexpected ways. I heard a lot of influences, from traditional blues, to Robben Ford, and even Coltrane and Satriani, and...???. Great chordal vocabulary. And the use of the slide and finger-picking allowed subtle nuances that we don't usually hear. He did a couple of tunes that had strong Indian influences, pedal tones overlain with haunting melodies. And some of the slide work sounded very much like backwards guitar: very strange. Like Jeff Beck and Knopfler, he gets huge, grinding tone with just his fingers. Plus he seems to be a real minimalist when it comes to gear: an old SG into a Super Reverb, and I saw NO pedals (there may have been some somewhere, but it looked like he ran straight into the amp). But he was constantly switching tones, apparently using only the volume knob, pickup switching, and picking intensity. Very effective.
I saw in this forum that a lot of people were put off by his apparent lack of stage presence when he opened for Eric Johnson. True, he didn't speak a word, rarely smiled, and didn't make eye-contact with the crowd very often. But do we require that of an accomplished player? I thought his understated stage manner was thrilling in itself. He was totally focused on what he was playing, with no surplus histrionics to jive it up. I admired that. This guy is very serious about his music.
OK, that's enough raving. But I would encourage all of you to check him out. Recently most of my listerning has been Satriani, Vai, Andy Timmons, and a few other masters, but it's time to expand the influences. I have no idea if his CDs come across like his live performance, but I'll find out soon. And lest I forget, the band really rocked too. Great musicians every one.