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Tedesci Trucks Band abides after huge losses

By Sean Clancy

This article was published September 14, 2017 at 1:49 a.m.


The Tedeschi Trucks Band, led by Susan Tedeschi (center, standing) and her husband, Derek Trucks (center, seated), will play at Robinson Center Performance Hall in Little Rock on Sunday.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Opening act: The Greyhounds

7 p.m. Sunday, Robinson Center Performance Hall, 426 W. Markham St., Little Rock

Admission: $26.50-$200

(501) 376-4781

Hurricane Irma was still far from the United States early last week, but guitarist and Jacksonville, Fla., resident Derek Trucks wasn't taking any chances.

"We'll probably start sandbagging the studio at some point today and pack up some guitars," Trucks says from his home a little less than a week before the storm was predicted to hit Florida. (A band spokesman said earlier this week that Trucks and his family left for Alabama before Hurricane Irma hit Jacksonville, Fla.).

Storm-prep aside, Trucks was looking ahead to his latest tour with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the 12-piece Southern blues-rock juggernaut he formed in 2010 with his wife, singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi. The group will bring the sweet jams Sunday to Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall. Austin, Texas, duo Greyhounds will open the show.

Tedesci Trucks are longtime road devotees, touring steadily throughout the year, though now they manage to work in a little more time at home with the family.

"On some level, it's more difficult when you have kids," says Trucks, 38, of touring life. He and Tedeschi are parents to two children, ages 13 and 15. "You don't want to be gone as much, but I've always enjoyed being on the road. Even when we were doing close to 300 shows a year, I always loved it. It does take it out of you, and it's a different kind of life, but I love the freedom and getting to cruise from town to town playing music."

Trucks grew up among Southern rock royalty. His uncle, drummer Butch Trucks, was an original member of the Allman Brothers Band. His brother, Duane, is a member of Widespread Panic and Hardworking Americans (the latter outfit will open some dates on the current tour).

Derek Trucks was a teenage guitar prodigy when he formed The Derek Trucks Band in 1994. He also played with his uncle in the Allman Brothers Band and became an official member of that group in 1999.

Trucks and singer-guitarist Tedeschi first got together in 2007 as the Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival, eventually shortening that mouthful of a name to Tedeschi Trucks in 2010. The group has released three studio albums, including last year's Let Me Get By, and a concert album, Live From the Fox Oakland earlier this year.

It has been a difficult 2017 for the band and Trucks, though it would be hard to tell from his boyish, buoyant tone.

Butch Trucks died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Jan. 24. Derek Trucks' close friend, singer/guitarist and jam band pioneer Col. Bruce Hampton died on May 1 after collapsing onstage at the Fox Theater in Atlanta during a show celebrating his 70th birthday, and at which The Tedeschi Trucks Band performed. And Allman Brothers co-founder Gregg Allman died on May 27 at age 69 of complications from liver cancer.

"It's been a pretty nasty year," Trucks says. "We lost a lot of people. Some were family and some were as close as family."

Hampton's death was a tough blow.

"I'd known him since I was 12 and he was very much a mentor and a family member," he says. "He passed [away] onstage in front of us, so that was pretty intense and traumatic."

Getting out and playing, though, has helped with the grieving process.

"In some ways, it makes you realize that it's all that much more important to keep the music out there and keep their legacies rolling in whatever way you can. A lot of people in our circles and in our band were close with them, too, so it's nice to be able to commune in that way."

If losing those three weren't enough to deal with, Tedeschi Trucks keyboardist Kofi Burbridge almost died from a heart ailment.

"That was close," Trucks says. "It was touch and go. That was after everything else had gone down and the first good news of the year was that he is going to bounce back."

Burbridge won't be on this tour, but Trucks is hoping he will return to the fold soon: "We're gonna try to get him to ease back in. I don't think the road is the place to test it."

And before he and the group hit the road, Trucks is working on material for a follow-up to Let Me Get By and keeping an eye on the weather.

"I was out in the studio yesterday and today with [producer-songwriter-guitarist] Doyle Bramhall II writing tunes and making demos," he says. "Our singer, Mike Madison, was down last week and we were writing tunes and I think we're getting close to having enough stuff to start recording. So we're going to write the rest of the day and then start sandbagging the studio. We're keeping our fingers crossed, but you've got to prepare just in case."

Weekend on 09/14/2017

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