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Talkin' Blues

Derek Trucks: Moving Forward, Back Where He Started

By Published: February 24, 2009
Meeting President Obama

AAJ: There's a video of Barak Obama telling a reporter that he loves Howlin' Wolf's London Sessions (MCA/Chess, 1971), with Clapton, and the song "Wang Dang Doodle." That's pretty cool, and he's got Coltrane on his iPod. I wondered, when you were in Washington for the inauguration, did you at least get a chance to see him?

Muddy WatersDT: Yes, Susan and I got a little bit of face time with the Bidens and the Obamas. It was nice, it was such a crazy day, and we were there for the swearing in. We had pretty good seats for that, and the energy there was just amazing. I haven't seen that many people in one place ever, and I've never seen a crowd like that, I mean, anytime you have that many people confined in a limited area it's going to be a pain in the ass. On normal days there would have been a lot of bickering and petty bullshit [Laughing] but everybody was in just such a good mood. I saw a lot of people start to get annoyed, and then shrug it off like "Not today." [Laughing] I thought to myself, even if it just lasts one day, I appreciate that sentiment.

AAJ: That's definitely something your great, great grandkids will be talking about.

DT: It was great, seeing Aretha Franklin and Yo-Yo Ma, and that night to play. I think he showed up a little before 1 am to our ball, so it was a long day for him, and us! But he was great man, he was great with his time, the Secret Service had to pull him away, "Mr. President, we've got to go, we've got one more ball left." It was fun, Susan and Michelle Obama and the President were talking about having kids, as busy as their schedules are, and how crazy it is to tour with kids. It was great; it felt like a real life moment, it was a lot of fun.

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What If?

AAJ: Last question, if you could go back and somehow be a witness to four musical events, one each from jazz, blues, rock and classic, which would you choose?

DT: Seeing Howlin' Wolf in his element, I don't know when his peak was, as far as havin' his great bands with Hubert [Sumlin], but seein' Wolf when he was on top of his game in a sweaty club, that would be high on the list for blues.

For jazz it's a toss-up. I think the first thing that came to mind was seein' Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
1916 - 1942
guitar, electric
at Minton's, some of those jam sessions with Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
and Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
and Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
, that would have been pretty great. But with jazz there's three, so I'm just going to throw them out! (Laughing) Seeing the Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra
1914 - 1993
Arkestra in the mid-'60s probably, when John Gilmore
John Gilmore
John Gilmore
1931 - 1995
was just playin' out of his head. They were just deep into it, makin' great records, so seein' those guys do their thing. Or the John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
Quartet around the time of Live at Birdland (Impulse!, 1963). So for jazz that's probably the three.

Derek Trucks

Classical, let's see, I would love to have seen Glenn Gould perform, I would love to have been there when [Krzysztof] Penderecki first broke out "Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima"—just for the craziness of it. And the riot that [Igor] Stravinsky's Firebird Suite caused, I would have liked to have been there. And from all the stories I've heard of his tone and how beautiful it was in person, I would love to have seen Joshua Heifetz.

For rock, it would be some of those famous Fillmore shows. I never got to see Duane [Allman] so that would be first on the list. You know, seeing Duane or Hendrix, or Duane and Clapton together that would have been great. Any one of those three, but I think seeing The Allman Brothers in their heydays would have been life changing.

Selected Discography

The Derek Trucks Band, Already Free (Columbia, 2009)

Susan Tedeschi, Back to the River (Verve, 2008)

Elvin Bishop, The Blues Roll On (Delta Groove, 2008)

David Sanborn, Here & Gone (Decca, 2008)

Buddy Guy, Skin Deep (Zomba, 2008)

The Derek Trucks Band, Songlines (Columbia, 2006)

J.J. Cale/Eric Clapton, The Road to Escondido (Reprise, 2006)

Susan Tedeschi, Hope and Desire (Verve, 2005)

Jerry Douglas, The Best Kept Secret (Koch, 2005)

The Derek Trucks Band, Live at Georgia Theater (Sony Music, 2004)

The Allman Brothers Band, One Way Out (Sanctuary, 2004)

The Derek Trucks Band, Soul Serenade (Columbia, 2003)

The Allman Brothers Band, Hittin' the Note (Sanctuary, 2003)

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Little Worlds (Columbia, 2003)

The Derek Trucks Band, Joyful Noise (Columbia, 2002)

Susan Tedeschi, Wait For Me (Tone Cool, 2002)

The Allman Brothers Band, Peakin' at the Beacon (Epic, 2000)

The Derek Trucks Band, Out of the (House of Blues, 1998)

The Derek Trucks Band, The Derek Trucks Band (Landslide Records, 1997)

Gregg Allman , Searching for Simplicity (Sony, 1997)

Photo Credits

Top Photo: Darren Stone

Trucks With Eric Clapton: Chris Tuite

All Other Photos: Courtesy of Derek Trucks

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