It was nice to get into that mode of writing and arranging tunes. You know, waking up in the morning with an idea, driving the kids to school and then heading to the studio and hammering out an arrangement, recording it and mixing it that evening. It was a really creative time, and it felt good to start the day with nothing and then end the day with an album track.
Absolutely. I can only imagine how fulfilling that must have been to be that inspired and work in a mode like that. Did you find that working that way changed your guitar playing or your approach to the guitar?
Yeah. I mean, the year on the road with Eric Clapton and really digging into all those Derek and the Dominos' tunes that I've heard for years but never bothered to learn, you realize there's some really great songs in there with some beautiful chord changes. There are a lot of ideas that seem obvious that you've never stumbled across. I think learning how to play great tunes and writing tunes, it makes me maybe a little bit more of a lyrical player. You have less to prove when you're soloing or you're more interested in stating the case or more interested in the melody and the song in what you're playing. So, it's definitely affected my playing.
It must have really expanded your vocabulary in ways you couldn't have imagined with discovering those tunes.
That's true as well. Sometimes expanding your vocabulary is just toning it down. There's no release without the tension.
I'm glad you brought up playing with Clapton. I heard the performances of the Dominos tunes. You really played a lot of those songs, and even acoustic sets. Whose idea was to play all of those songs?
He was definitely thinking about doing some of those tunes when he asked me to join the band; it was definitely on his mind. But, me and Doyle were definitely needling him about it. [laughs]
Oh really?
Oh, yeah. We were always bringing up tunes from that record. And when there felt like an opening, I'd either just start playing one of the songs I learned [laughs] and… you know, you don't push very hard in those situations, but sometimes the right suggestion and the right time can turn into something.
I actually remember in Japan we played the first night of the Buddakan, and one of the Japanese fans gave me a Dominos bootleg with Eric and Duane [Allman] playing together in Tampa. It's a double disc.
Wow! That's pretty rare.
Yeah, I think there's only three shows that they played together, and that's the only one that they know of that's recorded. I listened to it, and there's a version of "Key to the Highway" on there that I never heard. They were playing this pattern that was really catchy and cool. So, I called Eric in his room and said that I was just given this bootleg and it might be fun to play this tune. He said, "OK, bring the tune by," and we listened to it, and then the next night we were playing the version of that Dominos tune that would not have happened if that fan didn't bring the bootleg. It's so fun when things like that work out. In Japan, he's a serious guitar god. [laughs] I mean, people are really fired up when he comes to play. When we played "Little Wing" for the first time -- I guess he hadn't done it in 15 or 20 years -- it was amazing watching everyone's face light up. It's like they all knew he hadn't played it in that long. It was really nice seeing that reaction.
And then doing some of the other tunes like "I Am Yours" and "Any Day" -- you know, these lost great songs -- it was really great playing that music with him.
I noticed the other day that Eric is joining Jeff Beck for a few dates in Japan. That should be a really intense experience, too.
Yeah, it should be. I just spoke with Doyle, and he was leaving for Japan. That should be a good time. I think the tour I did with Eric in Japan was the highlight for me.
You seem to have become really close with Doyle, from your time playing with Eric, and he sang and co-produced a few tracks on Already Free. Did you know him before working in Eric's group?
No, the first time I met him was recording on that JJ Cale/Eric record. My wife knew him from the time she lived in Texas, so she was familiar with him, and they were pretty good friends. He was actually on Susan's record Wait For Me, and I played on a few tracks, but Doyle's on that whole record. I think it was that connection and Susan and him reconnecting that brought my name up when Eric was looking for a third guitar player. I think it was Doyle that brought my name up, and this was before I met him. We became good friends, and, musically, I loved where he was coming from. He's a just a really unique human being, and we got along really well on that tour.

Derek Trucks Band
Live at The Georgia Theatre (Sony Music, 2004)

The development of The Derek Trucks Band has followed a progression in which there's nothing contrived about the music itself or the sequence of events meant to support it. The development of the raw materials at hand on the first two albums, the eponymous debut and 1997's Out of the Madness, seems to have led inevitably to the release of the band's diverse major label debut. 2002's Joyful Noise segued smoothly to the next year's almost-all instrumental Soul Serenade (actually recorded before Noise but held up in legalities). It is little surprise that a year later Live at The Georgia Theatre consolidated the dual virtues of individual instrumental chops and band unity. This double- CD set also marks the next step in the group's evolution, as it features the regular vocal contributions of Mike Mattison. The purity of inspiration and execution remains over the course of two-plus hours as the eclectic likes of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Volunteered Slavery" appears alongside with Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead."
Songlines DVDDerek Trucks Band
Songlines Live (Sony Music Video, 2006)

The release of the Derek Trucks Band's Songlines Live DVD consolidated the gains the band made earlier in the year with the audio release of the same name. Within the concert content of the package, as well as the interviews with band members, DTB demonstrates what a wide vocabulary they possess, musically and intellectually, and how articulate they are in its use. Recorded at Park West in Chicago, filmed with nine high-definition cameras, the vibrant color and sound of Songlines Live matches the passion, texture and collective empathy of the musicianship at work. The group follows the lead of their taciturn but brilliant young bandmaster in such a way to suggest that the reach of The Derek Trucks Band may never exceed its grasp.