By: Scott Tady
For: The Beaver County Times
If you thought the Allman Brothers Band sounded better than usual last year at P-G Pavilion, well, guitarist Derek Trucks won’t argue.
“We’ve had a real good run the last two years,” Trucks said. “After a lot of personnel changes and fluctuations, we’ve settled into something really nice. We’ve reached that level of musical security, and that’s when the real magic happens.”
Experience that magic Aug. 15, when the Allman Brothers return to P-G Pavilion, just 364 days after their last appearance. The Southern rock pioneers have played the Burgettstown venue almost every year since its 1990 opening.
The current Allman Brothers lineup features original members Gregg Allman (vocals, organ) and drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe. Fellow percussionist Marc Quinones joined in 1991, followed by bassist Oteil Burbridge in 1997, Derek Trucks (Butch’s nephew) in 1999 and guitarist Warren Haynes in 2001.
“We have two different generations of musicians, but we all appreciate the same music,” Derek Trucks said. “It’s nice to have the guys who were around when the songs were originally recorded, but then it’s nice to have some young guys who are still very excited to play those songs. I think that rubs off on the original members.”
By bringing aboard new members worthy of the band’s early 1970s legacy, the Allman Brothers have endured the fickle music industry.
A February issue of Rolling Stone put Trucks on the cover, alongside John Mayer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante, representing the “New Guitar Gods.” The same magazine listed Trucks’ guitar partner, Haynes, as the 23rd greatest guitarist of all-time.
Such newfound acclaim helps the Allman Brothers reach new audiences, especially overseas, Trucks said, “though I don’t know what it does to you as a person. I try not to put too much weight in it.”
Few, if any, bands can boast of having two such acclaimed guitarists playing simultaneously.
So how do Trucks and Haynes make it look and sound so seamless in concert, especially with a band known for improvising?
“The more you play together, the more you work it out,” Trucks said. “You learn each others’ tendencies and know when it’s time in the song for someone to play the alpha part. We keep a certain edge and keep pushing each other.” Even in an unrehearsed jam, Trucks and Haynes instinctively know when it’s time for one of them to take a solo.
“It becomes really subtle and is mostly unsaid and unseen,” Trucks said. “You learn each other pretty well.” There’s only one guitarist with whom Trucks has a deeper relationship, his wife, Susan Tedeschi, herself a noted blues-rock artist.
The couple lives along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Fla., taking their boat to Alltell Stadium to see the NFL Jaguars.
Once the Allmans’ tour wraps, Trucks will hit the road with his self-named band.
Like his Allman Brothers brethren, Trucks is immune to the ups and downs of the CD industry, currently mired in a 15 percent sales slump.
“It’s great that we’ve never thrived off CD sales or album sales or cassettes, or whatever they were selling way back when,” Trucks said. “We’ve always been a tour-driven band or a fan-base-driven band.
“I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the big record labels crumbling in on themselves,” Trucks said. “They put themselves in that spot, first by signing so many terrible acts, and then by letting good ones flounder. The way it is right now, the only ones selling records are contestants on TV reality shows. But I think the industry is beginning to change, going back to vision-driven bands and talent-driven bands, rather than image-driven bands.”
You know, talent-driven bands like the Allman Brothers.