“That was always the comparison early on,” Trucks says. “When the Clapton thing happened and we started doing all the Dominos tunes, it felt like it was repeating itself again. In the Allman Brothers, playing that music, playing that role -- there’s a certain reverence to what he played. He was such a strong leader.”
But while life on the road with Clapton was a professional boon for Trucks, personally it was tough, as it kept him away from his family for long stretches. And though his wife, herself a musician, understood his situation more than most, it was still a challenge for her to hold down the fort alone (not to mention find the time to write and record her own tunes) while Trucks was country-hopping all over the world. Through that tour and numerous others, however, she’s gotten by with the help of family and friends, who pitch in on particularly rough days.
Today is one of those days. Trucks is preparing to leave on a month-long tour to preview material from his new release, Already Free. Tedeschi is hitting the road too. The four-time Grammy-nominated blues guitarist is heading to Paris to promote her latest record, Back to the River. A hulking tour bus idles just beyond the front gate. Traveling instrument cases crowd the driveway as Trucks’s brother and father finish up last-minute repairs on an equipment trailer. Other friends and family members dart about, loading boxes, moving equipment, and helping out any way they can.
Amid the chaos, Tedeschi loads her son, Charlie, into the family SUV. The six-year-old, sporting a too-big tie-dyed T-shirt, shares his father’s blond hair and boyish complexion. When asked if he plays guitar, he says he’s chosen a different path: He’s a baseball player.
Trucks and Tedeschi, who met on the road, have been married for seven years and have been playing together almost as long. The couple has even formed a group together, called Soul Stew Revival -- an amalgamation of the Derek Trucks Band, Tedeschi’s bandmates, and other favorite performers. Musicians through and through, they named their children, Charlie and Sophia Naima, in honor of jazz artists -- he for saxophonist Charlie Parker and guitarist Charlie Christian and she for John Coltrane’s ballad “Naima.” Though Trucks (who splits his time between three bands) and Tedeschi try hard to balance their schedules with the demands of parenthood, every so often, their calendars conflict and they end up on the road at the same time.
“I go through times when I feel really great and really wonderful and balanced,” Tedeschi says. “Then other times, I’m overwhelmed and frustrated, and I don’t know what to do. I mean, I want to be here with my babies. I want to be with my husband when I don’t see him for three weeks. So it’s hard.”
But with the bad often comes the good -- like the financial windfall from Trucks’s tour with Clapton that enabled him to build his world-class backyard recording studio. While Trucks fawns over the vintage guitars, his beloved timpani, and state-of-the-art mixing equipment, he’s happier still about the chance to work and still be home with his family.
“Being an absentee father is not an option,” he says. “Early this year, I had a month and a half off. I could be home; I could take the kids to school, come back, write a song, record it, have the band stay in the studio, and still be productive.”
That month and a half was the longest break Trucks has taken since he and Tedeschi tied the knot. And with his new studio complete, he’s looking forward to spending more time with his kids. After all, it was his father who helped him, as a child, achieve his dream of making it in music. And it was music that introduced him to his wife as an adult. Music, for Derek Trucks, has always been a family affair, and he’s finally on the verge of bringing it all home.