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Allman Brothers guitarist keeps on truckin’

By Melissa Ruggieri, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution –

Butch Trucks recently joked that he wished The Allman Brothers Band could tour more frequently, but too many members of the band have side projects marking up the calendar. His nephew, Derek Trucks, is guilty as charged.

The longtime leader of The Derek Trucks Band, the guitarist — to whom the word “amazing” applies without being hyperbolic — has a new focus these days: The Tedeschi Trucks Band, the 11-piece outfit he fronts with his wife, the blues-soul singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi. The group, which also includes Allman alum Oteil Burbridge on bass, won a Grammy for best blues album for “Revelator,” its debut last year. For its second recording, the band released the live “Everybody’s Talkin’.” It just finished playing a handful of shows with B.B. King.

Derek Trucks, 33, called from his home in Jacksonville, Fla., where he had just finished getting the couple’s two kids off to their first day of school, to discuss his admiration of Mr. King, what he thinks about being considered one of the greatest living slide guitarists and his feelings for Atlanta.

Q: You played with B.B. King at the Royal Albert Hall in London last year.

A: Between B.B. and Sue and me, we have a great rapport. The friendship goes back a long way. There’s also the sense that you don’t know how much longer B.B. is going to be around, playing.

B.B. has given the world so much with music. He can go do whatever he wants for as long as he wants and I’ll show up.

Q: Gregg Allman calls you the reincarnation of his brother Duane in his new book, but your uncle, Butch Trucks, says you don’t love that comparison.

A: Starting at such a young age in a musical family, fans will latch on to what you do and want you to stay there. You have to keep the flame lit yourself. That’s what makes a musician great, the inability to box them in. It would be a disservice to (Duane’s) legacy to recreate what he was doing and just stay there.

Q: How do you feel when you hear people tell you and write that you’re one of the greatest living guitarists?

A: I think the beauty of working as much as we do and always being on a mission is you never have time to step back and figure out where you stand. The music that we listen to on the road, you know who your heroes are and what greatness is and that’s what you’re after and you’re always comparing up. I think music, in some ways, is in a slightly rough state. We run into people all the time who seem to be doing it for the right reasons. But it’s kind of a sad state when you watch award shows. There isn’t one person on there who can hold an instrument, let alone play it.

Q: Do you hold anything against Atlanta since you once had some gear stolen here (in 2006)?

A: That was rough little patch, but I was amazed at the way people reacted to that. But no, Atlanta has always been kind of the hub. The first time I ever stood on stage and watched an Allmans show was at Chastain (Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta). I was called to maybe sit in — I was 10 or 11 — but it didn’t happen until a few nights later in Jacksonville. Atlanta really is the band’s second home. Plus my little brother (Duane Trucks, a drummer), has a weekly gig at the Five Spot.

Q: It’s only been a few years for TTB, but you’ve already won a Grammy and released a live album. Do you feel more at home on stage than a studio?

A: I gotta say, the last three records I’ve done, the studio feels almost as good as playing live. In some ways it’s been better — that’s new for me.

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