Prodigy: Trucks knew it all by 10

Derek Trucks Band
at Starr Hill
Thursday, December 5

As my crew and I stood around waiting for Derek Trucks to take the stage, anticipation was rising for what was a guaranteed to be a killer performance.

The opening act was decent: down home acoustic string music with a well-harmonized, story-telling vibe. The guitar work was tight, but something was lacking with the side project trio consisting of Gibb Droll and refugees from Kracker and moe. The music was good, but nothing to brag about.

As our subject matter turned to Derek Trucks, I turned to my old buddy, Joe Lawlor. I value his outlook. He's discriminating about music and can back up his opinions intelligently. I asked him to tell me a story about Trucks. It went something like this:

"I was living in Atlanta at the time hanging out in a guitar store– one of those places where people go to try out the guitars. Most of the time guys would come in, pick up a guitar, and start shredding to show how good they were.

"Nine times out of 10, they weren't as good as they thought. This particular time there was some serious playing coming from one of the side rooms, the kind that made us all drop what we were doing to see who the hell it was. When I peeked around the corner, I saw Derek Trucks sitting there. He was 10 years old."

Nuff said. I was sold. When Derek and his band took the stage, my eyes and ears were glued front and center.

The band started with psychedelic introductions reminiscent of something that might occur eight minutes through a Phish space jam. While the band began unlocking the groove, Derek stroked his guitar strings into precise melodies. I dare say he played perfectly, but it didn't stop there. Despite the common stereotype of his music, he didn't stick to jamming southern rock, and blues.

They moved easily in and out of west African rhythms, gospel, and reggae-influenced tunes.

For every song type, Derek altered his playing style (even though he seldom altered his facial expression) and made it mesh perfectly into the groove. At the age of 10, this kid had mastered rock. There he stood on stage 14 years later, having mastered just about every other kind of playing, and he did it all without breaking a sweat. The least we could do was listen.