The Grammy Award-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band returns to “hometown” Savannah to bestow another offering of sweet musical splendor and soul. Read the extended interview here. Written by T.Wayne Waters. Photos courtesy of Tedeschi Truck Band.
SM: Speaking of Gregg Allman, do you see him or speak with him much? I know he’s had some health issues recently.
Derek: Yeah, we’re always checking in on him. He’s had some ups and downs [with his health] recently. We saw him not too long ago in Charlotte, he came and sat in with the band. He’s got a great band right now that he stays really busy with. I think he’s working on a record. Whenever we’re in town we certainly reach out to him. We just wish him the best and hope that things are going right for him.
SM: Keeping for a moment with family connection, your dad Chris has his own role in your tours, right?
Derek: Yeah, he travels with us and deals with all the merchandise. I think he enjoys it and it’s nice having him out on the road. He was out with me for years when I was a kid and then stayed home when I got old enough to travel by myself. But I could tell he missed the road. Everybody in the band loves having him around. He’s just a good spirit to have around.
SM: You’re playing a lot of the music from your latest album as well as other selections, too. “Let Me Get By,” was created and recorded at the Swamp Raga studio that you built right there by your house in Jacksonville, as have all the Tedeschi Trucks Band albums. And, to return for a moment back to the family connection, as I understand it that was part of the reason for building it there at your home.
Susan: It really does add a lot more family time. It’s great. I actually don’t work out there as much as Derek does, though. He’s the workhorse. He and Bobby Tis, our engineer. They’re out there all the time. It’s nice, though. When they want to take a break they can check on their kids. The kids get home from school they can take a break and hang out with them and then go back to work. So it really makes a huge difference, not having to go out of state or something like that.
Derek: It was a mixture of wanting to be home more, working from home but also wanting to be more autonomous, wanting to do it all ourselves. With this record, every song we wrote was in that studio, mainly as a band. The pre-production, the songwriting, the recording, the mixing – all of it was done just right there. It’s really nice to be in control of all that and not have to ask for permission or worry about what people think about certain tunes.
SM: You’re the sole producer on “Let Me Get By,” right, Derek?
Derek: Yeah, it’s really very much a band record but that was one of my roles, to be there for every moment of it. It’s a lot of time and energy but it’s good work. I love when we get into the record-making process.
SM: And, as is typical with this band, the song-writing credits are nicely spread out. It seems almost everybody is involved in the songwriting process.
Derek: You know, one of the things I learned being around bands, the Allman Brothers and others, is that a lot of resentment can build up over the years because people felt like they contributed and didn’t get credit. Certain people took total songwriting credits and got mailbox money for 40 years while others didn’t. It can lead to a lot of problems. We’re very aware of that and take it into account. If somebody in Tedeschi Trucks contributes at all they get credit. We try to be very fair. It’s how we do things from top to bottom.
When Derek Trucks gets to Savannah late in January for his Tedeschi Trucks Band performance he’ll be able to have some family time with his with baby sister, Lesley, a Savannah resident since 2014. Lesley, 24, and her boyfriend opened the Sans Souci Smoke Shop on Abercorn in early 2015 but unfortunately had to close it down November of last year.
“We decided we’d close up the shop and try to do something different,” Lesley says. “But we’re staying in Savannah. I visited Savannah a lot growing up and I came to see Derek and Susan when they did their first show back in 2010 and fell in love with the city. My boyfriend and I both love it and it’s close enough to home to be sensible to go home to see the family, because we’re both real close with our families. So we decided to stick around.”
Lesley is the youngest of the four Trucks siblings. Derek’s the oldest, David, then Duane (named after – you guessed it – Duane Allman) are all older than her.
“It’s been a unique experience, what I’ve grown up around,” Lesley acknowledges. “It’s a very humbling experience to see how hard he’s worked, how far he’s gone and yet how grounded he is. Family means a lot to him. He gets off the road and he’s just a normal guy. He hangs out with the kids, wants to hang out with the family. Not everybody that talented and that successful stay humble and stay grounded. I’m really proud of him.”