Derek Trucks Band | 11.07.08 | NYC

Words by: Eric Liebetrau | Images by: Hiroya Wakabayashi

Derek Trucks Band :: 11.07.08 :: Blender Theater :: New York, NY

The Derek Trucks Band
In the mid-'90s, Derek Trucks began gaining cred for his work in the Allman Brothers Band, mainly due to his strikingly accurate approximation of the classic slide guitar of the late Duane Allman. Given his age (he first played with the legendary band while still in his early teens) and impressive chops, fans eagerly proclaimed him a prodigy - and for good reason. Following his success with the Allmans and countless other projects, in the last decade his eponymous band has gained increasing traction, playing sold-out shows in mid-level theaters and arenas across the country.

After playing a Thursday night concert at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, the band traveled across town for a packed Friday night show at the Blender Theater at Gramercy. The last time I saw the band live, they were plagued with the muddy acoustics and less-than-savory ambience of The Music Farm in Charleston, SC. This night proved to be a far more enjoyable experience, featuring clean sound and a well constructed, smoothly flowing set that showcased the bands' grounding in blues-rock as well as their ability to seamlessly blend elements of progressive jazz, soul, world and R&B.

In that vein, opener Eric Krasno and his band warmed up the crowd with the jazz-funk hybrid that Krasno's other band, Soulive, has nearly perfected. Featuring Nigel Hall - whose work on Soulive's recent No Place Like Soul was well-received - on keyboards and vocals and Lettuce veteran Adam Deitch on drums, the band tore through their short set in typical blazing fashion.

After taking the stage, Trucks and his band - Todd Smallie (bass), Yonrico Scott (drums, percussion), Kofi Burbridge (keys, flute), Mike Mattison (lead vocals) - jumped right in to "Done Got Over," a revved-up blues number that has become a DTB staple. The tropical "Sailing On" was the first demonstration of the depth of Mattison's husky, emotive vocal ability, and also signaled the arrival of a frequent DTB contributor, percussionist Count M'Butu, of Aquarium Rescue Unit fame. Though always in the background, the Count provided a nice subtle layer to the music.

Count M'Butu
"Sailing On" also included some inventive soloing from Trucks, who continually surprises in the directions he takes the guitar. There's such fluidity to his playing; it never seems like he's searching for an idea. Other guitarists may repeat a phrase over and over, or hold an unnecessarily long sustain, feeling around for the next direction. Trucks just keeps pushing, a cerebral expression locked on his face as he moves from theme to theme.

Four straight tracks from the forthcoming new album, Already Free (arriving January 13, 2009), followed: "Down in the Flood," a hidden Bob Dylan gem from The Basement Tapes; "These Days Is Almost Gone," an up-tempo ballad spotlighting Mattison's blues/soul vocal mixture; "Don't Miss Me," which was fairly unremarkable; and the uplifting "Sweet Inspirations."

Though the acoustic mini-set was well executed, my memory of the specifics faded quickly under the weight of the monster "My Favorite Things" that followed. The appropriately soft beginning merely hinted at the melody, dancing around the central figure before Trucks enunciated it properly. What followed was a lengthy, meandering yet entirely captivating jam that used the well-known melody merely as a jumping-off point. Moving from light and airy to ferocious in a matter of seconds, Trucks exploded off frequent Coltrane-inspired tangents, demonstrating his dizzying capabilities that range well beyond mere slide playing. In fact, he worked without the slide for the entire song, leading the band, Hendrix-style, through a rolling landscape that eventually wound back to the main theme.

The Derek Trucks Band
As everyone caught their breath, Yonrico Scott announced the guests for the next tune, namely Krasno, Hall and Deitch. Though it's one of the most well worn covers available, this version of Allen Toussaint's "Get Out My Life Woman" was enlivened by instrument rotation between Scott and Deitch, and Burbridge and Hall, in addition to a brief Krasno/Trucks duel. Krasno played well off Trucks' jazzy side, and the two seemed to be on the same page. Everyone onstage was obviously having a good time, so the set-ending "Joyful Noise," featuring all the guests, was appropriate.

A short treatment of "Down Don't Bother," a standout track from the new album, kicked off the encore, which ended with a track that DTB often covers, "Freddie's Dead." The Curtis Mayfield tune was a perfect choice given the guests on-hand, and Mattison delivered the falsetto lyrics to maximum effect. The crescendo built to a soulful climax, closing a wholly engaging set of music led by one of contemporary American music's most innovative guitarists.

11.07.08 :: Blender Theater :: New York, NY
Done Got Over, Sailing On, Down In The Flood, These Days Is Almost Gone, Don't Miss Me When I'm Gone, Sweet Inspiration, Soul Of A Man, Chicken Robber, Meet ME At The Bottom, My Favorite Things. Get Out Of My Life*^#, Get What You Deserve, Joyful Noise*#, Down Don't Bother Me, Freddie's Dead1*^#
*w/Eric Krasno - Guitar
^w/Adam Deitch - Drums
#w/Nigel Hall - Keys

Derek Trucks Band "A Joyful Noise" Blender NYC

Check this show on www.archive.org.

Derek Trucks Band is on tour now, dates available here.

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http://www.derektrucks.com/

[Published on: 11/21/08]

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Comments

canoftunapudding Fri 11/21/2008 11:19AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

excellent review, can't wait for xmas jam.

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/21/2008 11:44AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Chaloupka

Can't wait till the next time I get to see the DTB!

SCIRGR84EVS Fri 11/21/2008 11:48AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Count M'Butu is a frequent DTB contributer, because he's a full-time member of DTB.

Lunchbox16 starstarstarstar Fri 11/21/2008 01:51PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Lunchbox16

The DTB is the best thing going in live music these days if you ask me. I've been following them religiously for the past 8 years and they just keep getting better. The new album should be up to their usual high standards (already pre-ordered mine).

And just a point of clarification: Derek never uses a pick, so the comment that he went pickless for My Favorite Things. The reviewer doesn't seem to be really familiar with the band, but, in general, it's a decent review.

RichardHaley Fri 11/21/2008 02:05PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I know it seems like the Count is a full time member, but he really isn't... from trucks' website: "Count M'Butu has been the mysterious sixth member of The Derek Trucks Band for the last six or more years. He is the only band member that doesn't perform on every tour, but his presence with the band has become more frequent over time and the band always elevates their playing when he graces the stage."

tourfan Fri 11/21/2008 02:20PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great review Eric and Hiroya, thanks for sharing with us all. Love DTB. Miss them so much from my six years in ATL. Peace.

wspencer21 starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/21/2008 05:07PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

wspencer21

TRUCKS IS THE MAN!!! My favorite guitar player. Saw him this summer with his wife in Soul Stew Revival and they were great!! What a familly.

His phrasing is just amazing, gives me the shivers! Nice review!

Cheers

Ching starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/22/2008 12:14AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Derek us a guitar god. Xmas Jam will be the best yet this year

20 yrs

BlowsAgainsttheEmpire starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/22/2008 08:11AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

BlowsAgainsttheEmpire

Finally, after the last *TWO* reviews of the Derek Trucks Band here on jambase.com that didn't include him, someone includes a picture of Mike Mattison the DTB's *LEAD* singer.

I'll echo what tourfan said and thank Hiroya and Eric for giving the great DTB some well deserved publicity/coverage.

And since some people brought up the Count check out this link:

http://product.half.ebay.com/See-the-Sun_W0QQtgZinfoQQprZ3447140

Lunchbox16 starstarstarstar Sat 11/22/2008 10:16AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Lunchbox16

In response to RichardHaley: Not to nit-pick, but for all intents and purposes the Count is a full-time member of the band. The info on the DTB website isn't updated regularly. While the Count may have been an intermittent member in the distant past, the last couple years or so he HAS been on every tour. But regardless of technicalities and semantics, this band rocks!

phish728 Sat 11/22/2008 03:40PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Damn, knew i shoulda hit this one too. Was at Thursday at the highline which was a stellar show, absolutly packed place, and the music was flawless. Such a great band, one of the best for sure...

schofizzl Sun 11/23/2008 01:30PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

schofizzl

DTB is quickly becoming one of my all time favorites. i wish them all the success they can muster.

Road To Shambala Mon 11/24/2008 09:33AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Road To Shambala

Thanks for the review. What a great combo of bands. DTB at the Berks Jazz Fest next year just announced. I'll be there.

soitgoes Mon 12/1/2008 08:33AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

hey Lunchbox- my fault, meant to write "without the slide" not "pick"- def aware he never uses a pick-

eric