Trucks turns his knuckles down, digs deep
VAIL – Derek Trucks doesn’t care much about hamming up the crowd. Stage presence in general isn’t something he really thinks about. There’s just one thing on his mind as he’s playing music: the music.”It’s your mission to stay focused on the task instead of trying to get through to as many people as possible,” Trucks said. “The way things seem to be going, mediocrity is much less intimidating than someone who’s great at what they do. For the average listener, you must want something to entertain you, and that’s about it. But, music should make you think.” Having received his first guitar at the age of 9, Trucks has come to have different priorities than some 25-year-old musicians. For one thing, he spends a great deal of his on-the-road time, which can amount to more than 300 days a year, reading classical literature. “That’s what keeps most of us sane,” he said of reading on the road. “I just finished the latest Levon Helm book and in the last six months, I’ve read a few – ‘Howard’s End,’ lots of Oscar Wilde … “
Trucks said “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson was the funniest book he’s ever read and he was sorry to hear the news of Thompson’s death earlier this week.”We took a picture of his house in Aspen,” Trucks said. “It’s got a big finger on top of it – a middle finger. We have it up in our bus.”While about 60 percent of his days are spent on the road with Derek Trucks Band, the other 40 percent of Trucks’ touring time is spent on the road with the Allman Brothers, with whom he is a regular guitarist. From an early age, Trucks has been a fan of the Allman Brothers’ sound as well as that of Elmor James and other musicians who have chiseled a place for themselves among the ranks of respectable artists during the course of musical history.Kids these days
“There’s not too much new music that excites me,” Trucks said. “I think the musicianship and talent of some newer artists has sort of gone down. With a lot of things in modern society, people are kind of lazy. They don’t spend a lot of time perfecting their craft. I don’t see a lot of dedication – people dedicating their life to a craft. There’s still dedicated people out there, but with the instant monetary reward system that’s set up now, people want things immediately. Overall, you don’t see the level of musicianship or artistry you’d see in the past, when people took time to learn how to do something.”Trucks said some examples leapt to mind.”You’ll see someone who’s pretty good at what they do. If people are pretty good, people throw labels at them. An obvious example is Alicia Keys. She’s talented, has a decent voice, but people are saying it’s the next Stevie Wonder. If you compare it to people who can really sing, it just doesn’t hold up. Music, or anything like that has to withstand the test of time. You know immediately when you hear it if it’s music as entertainment, or if you’ll look back on it 100 years from now.” From the slow, meticulously woven scales that Trucks opens most of his songs with to the calculated harmony paired with other instruments, it’s clear that Derek Trucks Band doesn’t take the comfortably worn approach to creating music.
“You get people in the middle of the road who are going a lot further than the ones on top,” Trucks said. “If you’re not questioning things, that doesn’t help things grow. In the long run, it definitely sends things in reverse. It’s like sucking your thumb. You find something that’s comfortable and you regress. There’s plenty of musicians out there to entertain you. To me, there’s definitely a place to be. Your role is to dig in as deep as you can.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado