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Trucks carving out own legacy

As part of the Allman Brothers Band, Derek Trucks spends a great dealof his time trying to live up to the legacy of guitar god Duane Allman.

As part of the Allman Brothers Band, Derek Trucks spends a great deal of his time trying to live up to the legacy of guitar god Duane Allman.

It’s a task that could drive a lesser guitarist mad.

Since dying in a motorcycle accident 38 years ago at the age of 24, Allman has achieved legendary status.

His shoes are not the easiest to step into. But over the past 10 years, Trucks has taken up the challenge with a brilliance that has gained him acceptance among the Allmans’ notoriously demanding fans as well as respect from his better known peers.

At the relatively young age of 29, Trucks is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s great practitioners of electric slide guitar, an able successor to Allman and a remarkable stylist in his own right.

So despite all the satisfaction he gets playing with the Allmans, it’s nice to ease himself out of that pressure cooker and into the comfort of his own solo project, The Derek Trucks Band.

“It’s like the difference between driving a Mac truck and a sports car,” laughs Trucks, whose six-piece solo will be playing as part of Toronto’s Luminato Festival on Sunday at the Yonge-Dundas Square.

Trucks was talking on the phone from New York’s Beacon Theatre where the Allmans recently completed a string of 15 soldout concerts to celebrate the great band’s 40th anniversary. During those shows, the Allmans were joined by guest artists including Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Levon Helm (The Band), Los Lobos, Trey Anastasio (Phish), Phil Lesh and Bob Weir (the Grateful Dead), John Hammond and Sheryl Crow. Even then, Trucks found it necessary to take a break and jam out with his own band.

“My band played a show on the last night off, the Wednesday night, down in Jersey and that was such a breath of fresh air,” Trucks says. “I felt like we had so much more control of the direction, just like on the drop of a hat. It was really nice ... The Allman Brothers run has been amazing but, I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed being with my guys for the one gig we did.

“I think it made me play better with the Allmans the next night. They kind of refuel each other.”

Trucks, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., comes by his talents naturally. As nephew to Allmans’ drummer Butch Trucks, he grew up with the band’s music.

His father even named him out of respect for Derek and the Dominoes, the early ’70s band that paired Clapton with Duane Allman.

When Clapton asked Trucks to join his band for a tour two years ago, he eagerly took up the challenge. One of the things Trucks most remembers about that tour was when he brought his father to Clapton’s English estate to meet his idol.

“He invited me and my family out to his place outside of London, the place in the country that he’s had for 40 years,” Trucks says. “My dad is a roofer from Jacksonville who named his son off that record. Watching him have afternoon tea with Eric was surreal.”

Trucks live
• The Derek Trucks Band plays Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday as part of Toronto’s Luminato Festival.

 
 
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