The Derek Trucks Band: Songlines - Live

Doug Collette By

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The Derek Trucks Band
Songlines - Live

The release of the Derek Trucks Band's Songlines - Live DVD should consolidate the gains the band made earlier this year with their similarly titled audio disc. In the concert content of the package, as well as the bonus interviews with band members, DTB demonstrates what a wide vocabulary they possess, musically and intellectually, and how articulate they are in its use.

Recorded at Park West in Chicago this past January, DTB follows the lead of their taciturn but brilliant young bandmaster in ways large and small. With colorful stage backdrops the only concession to film production per se, their stage presence is the natural theatre of serious musicians, intent on playing together in a way that maximizes the rapport they've built up over the years. The solemnity the group usually displays belies the pleasure they take in each other's playing: it's clear they love to listen and watch one another, feeding ideas back and forth to enliven they playing. No wonder they begin the set with "Joyful Noise.

Filmed with nine, high-definition cameras, the vibrant color and sound of Songlines - Live matches the passion, texture and collective empathy of the musicianship at work. Camera angles vary constantly, though not intrusively. Instead the angles sync with the arrangements, so that shots from stage front, back and sides intermingle with individual and group perspectives. As the twenty-plus song set unfolds, you notice that while Derek Trucks is indeed the main voice of the band, his role is established less by solo time, or the sophistication of his guitar playing, than by his general musical, spiritual and emotional leadership.

It's fascinating to note how the six men are aligned on stage in symmetrical fashion, with the namesake of the group front and center. That physical arrangement is symbolic of the reverence and deference the band members afford Trucks, as captured in their speech patterns and body language during the interview footage included as a bonus feature.

While regular followers of the group will see and hear what they may be used to in terms of material and execution, it's still a revelation to see how the group manages the flow of improvisation (reinforcing how they managed to carry it into the studio with them for the Songlines audio disc). The key to it all may be the fact that each member of the septet knows his role and is not only fully capable of playing it, but is equally willing and skilled in supporting his peers.

Seven songs never before committed to audio or video by the band appear on this DVD. By themselves these tunes illustrate the breadth of influences at work in DTB—the blues of "Key To The Highway, the traditional folk song "Greensleeves, contemporary r&b in the form of "Let's Go Get Stoned, and Eric Clapton/Derek & The Dominos' "Anyday, all have a place next to repertoire staples like "Crow Jane and "Feel So Bad. It's a musical education of sorts to see and hear The Derek Trucks Band.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Volunteered Slavery must hold special meaning for Derek Trucks himself right now. Roadwork with his own band in co-ordination with The Allman Brothers' summer tour comes in the wake of playing Europe with Eric Clapton—an American leg of which tour begins this autumn, as Trucks continues to front DTB. No musician could be promoting himself more vigorously than Derek Trucks, right now through the end of 2006. But as Songlines - Live suggests, there can't be many other musicians more deserving of such heightened visibility.

Tracks: Joyful Noise; Crow Jane; Sahib Teri Bandi - Maki Madni; Volunteered Slavery; I'll Find My Way; I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free); Key To The Highway; I'd Rather Be Blind, Crippled And Crazy; All I Do; Mahjoun/Greensleeves; Sailing On; Chevrolet; Soul Serenade; For My Brother; Feel So Bad; Let's Go Get Stoned; Voices Inside (Everthing Is Everything)/Fat Mama; Anyday; Maybe Your Baby; Up Above My Head.

Personnel: Derek Trucks: guitar; Todd Smallie: bass and vocals; Yonrico Scott: drums, percussion and vocals; Kofi Burbridge: keyboards, flute and vocals; Mike Mattison: vocals; Count M'Butu: congas and percussion

Production Notes: 120 minutes. Recorded January 28th, 2006 at Park West, Chicago, Illinois. Extras: Interviews with band members.

Visit Derek Trucks on the web.

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