Happy Birthday Derek Trucks: Performing With Phil Lesh & Friends In 1999
Guitarist Derek Trucks celebrates his birthday today. Born in 1979 in Jacksonville, Florida, at a young age the guitar prodigy was wowing audiences with his seemingly natural-born talent for picking six strings and he was leading The Derek Trucks Band by the time he was a teenager.
Derek would go on to join his uncle, the late drummer Butch Trucks, as a member of The Allman Brothers Band, remaining with the legendary group their final show in 2014. Derek and his wife, guitarist Susan Tedeschi, turned their collective attention to the Tedeschi Trucks Band which started in 2010 and continues to be the musical couple’s primary focus.
Those are just a few of the many entries on Trucks’ resume, which also includes performing alongside Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Phish, Trey Anastasio, Willie Nelson, Widespread Panic (whose drummer is Derek’s brother Duane Trucks), Gary Clark Jr., Umphrey’s McGee, Marcus King and many others. For a few weeks in fall 1999, Trucks was a “phil-in” member of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s ever-evolving Phil Lesh & Friends project.
Phil & Friends were on the road with Bob Dylan in October 1999 when guitarist Steve Kimock abruptly quit the group mid-tour, which resulted in Lesh playing two shows with drummer John Molo and Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere and keyboardist Billy Payne. Trucks was summoned by Lesh to play guitar with that lineup on Halloween night in Chicago.
The next stop on the tour saw Lesh bring on Trucks’ soon-to-be bandmate in The Allman Brothers Band, guitarist Warren Haynes, who replaced Barrere on November 2, 1999 in East Lansing, Michigan and at the same time keyboardist Rob Barraco was also tapped to replace Payne. The short-lived Phil & Friends lineup of Lesh, Trucks, Haynes, Molo and Barraco opened for Dylan an additional 10 times. Trucks’ final appearance on the tour occurred on November 15 in Ithaca, New York at Cornell University’s Barton Hall where the Dead’s historic 1977 concert was held. Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen joined the group that night and for the final two shows of the Dylan tour that Trucks sat out.
Four of the sets Derek Trucks played as a member of Phil & Friends in fall 1999 are available to watch via the JamBase Live Music Archive (JBLVA). Trucks can be seen and heard making his debut on October 31 at Chicago’s UIC Pavillion during which Dead staple “Viola Lee Blues” surrounded a take on Phish’s “Wolfman’s Brother” and Barrere and Payne led a rendition of Little Feat’s “Fat Man In The Bathtub.”
Also available is the aforementioned November 2 show at Michigan State University with Haynes and Barraco taking over for Barrere and Payne. The East Lansing gig opened with “Terrapin Station” and also included performances of the jazz standard “Footprints,” Traffic’s “Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys” and Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour.”
The lineup’s evolution can then be traced through to their November 10 performance in New Haven, Connecticut. Among the set’s highlights were Lesh’s Dead rarity “Pride Of Cucamonga” and Haynes’ original “Patchwork Quilt,” as well as the classic pairing of “Scarlet Begonias” with “Fire On The Mountain.”
Finally, Trucks can be seen with Lesh on November 13 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The set opened with The Youngbloods’ sing-along “Get Together” and Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and later presented “Days Between” and a cover of John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” inside “Cryptical Envelopment” and “The Other One.” The set closed with the vintage trio of “Help On The Way” into “Slipknot” into “Franklin’s Tower.”
Trucks (and Tedeschi) sat-in with Phil Lesh & Friends at the 2016 LOCKN’ Festival on “Mr. Charlie” and “Sugaree”. Watch Derek Trucks performing with Phil Lesh & Friends in fall 1999 below: