Quiet riot

Young guitar wizard Derek Trucks, still seemingly a kid himself, is already nurturing a budding drummer at home.

Trucks, whose self-named band plays The Orange Peel next week, is a new father. He and his wife, Grammy-nominated blues singer Susan Tedeschi, have a son, Charlie, who turns 2 on March 6.

Like any self-respecting toddler, Charlie is busy tearing up the house — perhaps demonstrating that same spirit of experimentation that’s made his father one of the most prolific guitarists around.

“Charlie loves playing around with any instrument, with anything to make noise,” Trucks said in a recent phone interview from his Jacksonville, Fla., home. “He gets amused by the sounds.

“All people are drummers at 2.”

Perhaps Charlie will someday join his father on tour — just give him seven years to get ready. (If Charlie sticks to drums, he might follow Derek’s uncle, Butch, an original Allman Brothers drummer, who picked up Drum magazine’s “Best Rock Percussionist” honor last year.)

His daddy, after all, was already a professional musician by age 9. Derek, 24, cut his teeth in a touring blues band, but since he was 19, he’s played lead and slide guitar with the Allman Brothers, the ultimate Southern-rock jam band.

Though obviously a prodigy, Derek admits he almost succumbed to some serious stage fright his first time out.

“I was pretty shell-shocked by the audience,” he remembers. “But I definitely dug playing. And traveling on the road was exciting.”

The pony-tailed blond has kept his stage persona noticeably low-key. No wailing histrionics for him: He’s often stationary, gazing down at his guitar as he focuses on his craft — like Eric Clapton and other pioneers in a similar vein.

“The people I had seen in [concert footage growing up] were just playing music,” Derek relates. “They were not jumping around stage. They were into musicianship, rather than showmanship.”

Call it quiet magic — and fittingly, Derek couches discussions of playing guitar in spiritual terms. With slide guitar, he says, “You can bend notes in ways you can’t otherwise. It’s mystical.”

And during jams, he can’t help but let himself go. “You’re trying to open up the gate, to get in touch,” he muses. “It happens in flashes. If you really got it together, you’d probably disappear off the planet.”

Appropriately, his five-piece Derek Trucks Band is sometimes a more worldly affair than his previous projects — Trucks, for instance, plays the slide guitar-esque Indian sarod on his band’s latest, the map-spanning Soul Serenade (Columbia, 2003).

Still, part of Derek’s appeal — and perhaps the secret of his success — may be his determination to keep his feet firmly planted on Mother Earth.

He’s glad, he confesses, that he didn’t have to tour during the Allmans’ early ’70s heyday — what Trucks calls the band’s “indulging” era.

“I’m lucky that way,” he adds. “I have strong people around me.”

Notorious partiers Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks have now been clean for years — and have made sure their protege never set his own feet on their rocky paths.

“They’re blunt,” Derek reveals. “They’ll say: ‘What I did, you should probably not do.’

“It’s definitely inspiring to see someone who’s gone to one extreme, and has come back to the other,” he continues. “I’m lucky so far not to have gone down that road. Once you find music is your drug, you’re much better off. You don’t need the others.”


The Derek Trucks Band plays The Orange Peel (101 Biltmore Ave.; 225-5851) at 9 p.m. on Wed., Jan. 28. Tickets cost $15.

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