Taking Vail on a slide
Trucks isn’t interested in selling albums, he wants to make music. And that music has nothing to do with categories. Steeped in the Allman Brothers tradition (his uncle, Butch Trucks, was the original drummer), he’s since slid his guitar into the world music realm.
His latest album, “Joyful Noise,” cavorts from one continent to the next, all tied together with his fiery guitar work.
“We had the opportunity to work with a lot of great musicians when recording the album,” said Trucks. “They’ve influenced me and the band. It’s changed us – whenever you play with someone else it changes you.”
He’s referring specifically to Pakistani vocalist Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Panamanian salsa guru Ruben Blades and singer-songwriter Susan Tedeschi (a.k.a. Mrs. Trucks). Trucks refers to recording the mystical Qawwali song, “Maki Madni” with Khan long distance as one of the “heaviest experiences” of the whole recording process.
For “Kam-ma-lay,” Blades wrote the lyrics and the rest of the band wrote the music. He brought his cowbell to the recording studio, and interspersed vocal tracks with frenetic hand-claps and the occasional clang. “Baby, You’re Right” was the first tune Tedeschi sang after she and her husband had a baby.
“I’m really happy with this record,” he said. “It really shows where the band is. We play together so much, it’s always changing, constantly moving.”
The nephew of the original Allman Brothers Band drummer, Butch, Trucks divides his time between the Derek Trucks Band and the Allman Brothers Band. Though he was smack in the middle of his own project, he couldn’t resist his childhood music heroes when they asked him to be their slide guitarist.
“The Allmans only do about 60 shows a year, so it works out o.k.,” said Trucks. “Being on stage with a legendary band, you have to step up a little more. Here, I can be more subtle.”
He’s adamant that the group is a band in every sense of the word, not a front band. Band members include rhythm master Yonrico Scott, keyboardist and flutist Kofi Burbridge and bassist Todd Smallie. They share vocal duties. The group collaborates on a lot of the writing, and have been together for a long time. They have the same goal – to play honest music.
“Music that has the right intentions, that speaks to the soul not the mind,” said Trucks. “Not directed at entertainment and selling records. It’s bigger than that, something able to open people up to new emotions and mindsets.”
Tony Furtado with American Gypsies
Furtado and the American Gypsies have been touring almost constantly over the past few months – though he hasn’t been in Colorado much. The East Coast and the Deep South are embracing the West Coast kid who discovered roots music soon after making his own banjo for a school project. He still plays the banjo, but a fairly new love of singing has pushed him toward the slide guitar, about which he’s all fired up and passionate.
“When I first started my band, I hated singing,” he said. “I’d sing maybe one song a set. But now I really love singing, so my shows are a bit more song-oriented. If I just did banjo song after banjo song, it would be boring. It’s the same with the ballads – it would be boring if that’s all we did.”
The Gypsies are a high-energy American roots band with a penchant for naughty delivery and musical indulgence. With a continuously evolving repertoire, they perform originals with the occasional cover thrown in for good measure.
“Tony’s a great player,” said Trucks. “I hadn’t heard him until we toured together. He can get up in front of a group of people with just his guitar and captivate them.”
The American Gypsies recorded a live album in several Colorado venues last year. It’s slated to be mastered today, and distributed in a couple of months.
“I’m really pleased with it,” he said. “It’s very representative of what we do in a live show.”
This live show will include drummer Tom Brechetlin, the mad guitarist Gawain Matthews and bassist Uriah Duffey.
The American Gypsies will play first, followed by the Derek Trucks Band. Music begins at 10 p.m.
Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.