The Derek Trucks Band is an American jam band founded by young slide guitar prodigy, Derek Trucks, who began playing guitar and touring with some of blues and rock music's elite when he was just nine years old. After experimenting as an adolescent with musicians he met between tours and recording sessions, Trucks founded The Derek Trucks Band in 1994. With family ties to The Allman Brothers Band, Trucks continued to experiment and play with others, carefully assembling his own band over a period of several years. Loosely based in his family home in Jacksonville, Florida, with Trucks as unquestionable bandleader, the band is made up of six individuals.
The band has drawn upon the wide variety of the influences and musical preferences of its band members. Together, they have gained increasing public notice and critical acclaim for developing a unique sound of their own. Melding together blues, southern rock, jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, soul, funk with Hindustani classical music, afro-beat and world fusion, the band has released nine albums as of 2009. Increasingly, the bandmates have combined their talents to perform pieces from some of the most highly regarded musicians before them, while at the same time collaborating on writing the songs they have recorded.
Their sound has become, with maturity, a way for Trucks to explore his own creativity. Rather than focus all his energy into his increasing role as a guest (and eventually, a permanent membership in The Allman Brothers Band) Trucks has nurtured a different eclectic sound as bandleader of what is now The Derek Trucks Band.
The Derek Trucks Band was founded by Trucks in 1994, with the introduction of Todd Smallie, an Atlanta jazz and blues-based musician playing bass guitar. As the first to join him, Trucks has said he feels that he's "kind of grown up with him."
The next year, in 1995, Smallie was followed by drummer Yonrico Scott, who initially filled the role of percussionist, as well as drummer, completing the band's first cohesive rhythm section. Scott began learning to play the drums when still a very young child. Originating in Michigan, with a Motown influence, he graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. Degree in percussion performance. His songwriting collaborations with other band members appear from their first eponymous debut album in 1997, followed with Out of the Madness in 1999, and have continued to date. Scott has been playing with Trucks for over 17 years as of 2009. According to Trucks: "We've developed a kind of 'musical ESP'.. it's nice to have somebody that you don't have to look at...he's just right there with you."
Trucks continued to gather a steady group of talented musicians together, although two early members did not last. The band's initial keyboardist/vocalist, Bill McKay, left his mark in songwriting credits on the band's earliest albums.
Upon finding an opening for a keyboardist, the bandmates felt fortunate to find Kofi Burbridge, (brother of bass guitairist Oteil Burbridge, with whom Trucks plays in the Allman Brothers Band) to fill the role. Kofi Burbridge is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist, and contributes to the band his versatility with keyboards, organ, flute, and backing vocals, in addition to his talents in songwriting. Burbridge joined the band in 1999. In an interview upon the release of their 2002 album, Joyful Noise, Trucks commented in 2006, "Kofi Burbridge has been with us maybe 2-3 years, and he's one of the few musical geniuses that I've had the chance to work with..." continuing, "I'm really anxious to see in the next few years to see where he takes this, because he's definitely a huge part of what's going on right now."
In 2002 the band's producers, Craig Street and John Snyder recommended singer Mike Mattison to the band.
Mattison performed several shows with the band, and Trucks decided Mattison's soulful voice and calm stage presence completed the band's identity. Trucks said of Mattison, "He's got a huge range, so that helps us out a lot when we stretch into some of the different material we cover. It's like having three different vocalists onstage at times. It's a tough piece of the puzzle to find, you know -- a good singer who fits with what you're doing -- so we were very fortunate to hook up with Mike."
Mattison has collaborated with Trucks writing songs, on each album since joining the band, including the title track to the band's 2008 album, Already Free. Mattison had a previous band as well--a vocal duo, called Scrapomatic, with guitarist/vocalist Paul Olsen, with whom he still performs at occasional gigs, including some opening sets for The Derek Trucks Band.
The band's final member, Count M'Butu is the only band member that does not appear on every tour. M'Butu, the group's eldest member, plays a variety of drums and percussion. Trucks and Scott both have known him for decades, before he joined the Derek Trucks Band, as M'Butu was a regular musical fixture in Atlanta; one of the bastions of the Allman Brothers fan bases. Thus, as of early 2009, M'Butu is the eldest member of the band, which has members whose ages are in their 20's, 30's 40's 50's and 60's. M'Butu has a great deal of African influence in his work, but lived in Sandersville, Georgia most of his life, "so he's got that Southern thing, too", Derek finishes. His differing influences are compatible with the band's world music sound.
Since the last members joined in 2002, the bandmates have adjusted to near-constant travelling on the road, and have become comfortable with one another. Each member's experiences, tastes, and differing approaches to each piece are a bonus, says Mattison. Since the band embraces improvisation and musical exploration, he has said, "You're just part of the ensemble -- you do your bit and step back and let everybody else do theirs. It's fun to not have to carry the weight of the entertainer."
The band's album, 'Already Free', won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards. Shortly after winning the Grammy, the band has been on a hiatus since 2010. That summer they released their live album, Roadsongs. 2011 the band got the Blues Music Award as Band of the Year.
The Derek Trucks Band would occasionally play together with the band of Trucks' wife, Susan Tedeschi, in a collective known as "Soul Stew Revival". This allowed the couple to spend more time with each other when they would otherwise both be out on the road separately. From that project, Trucks and Tedeschi formed a new group called the Tedeschi Trucks Band which includes Mike Mattison and Kofi Burbridge from the Derek Trucks Band.
Derek Trucks - Guitar, Slide guitar, Sarod, Dobro (1994-present),
Todd Smallie -bass backing vocals (1994-present),
Yonrico Scott - drums, percussion, vocals (1995-present),
Kofi Burbridge - keyboards, flute, vocals (1999-present),
Mike Mattison - lead vocals (2002-present),
Count M'Butu - percussion, including a variety of drums (2004-present),
Bill Mckay - keyboards, vocals (1995-1999),
Javier Colon - lead vocals (2000-2002)