The Gulf Coast is getting ready for a fall festival of epic proportions. Lucy “LuLu” Buffet is inviting the public to experience the first ever Crazy Sista Beach Party.
Party goers will be treated to the sounds of notables such as Marcia Ball, Eric Lindell and Larkin Poe. The apex of this music festival will occur on Saturday night when the Grammy Award-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band takes the stage.
As solo artists, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks are each outstanding, but their joint project has brought together members of their respective bands for a sonic powerhouse that cannot be matched. With a little help from co-writers such as Oliver Wood and Eric Krasno, this group’s latest album “Made Up Mind” is evidence that this project continues to mature.
Lagniappe caught up with Derek Trucks to discuss life on the road with his wife and their band.
SC: You know, a lot of people would say that working with your spouse in a professional sense is a bad idea. When I think about music history, there are a lot of couples who have worked together, and it hasn’t ended up so good. Judging from the chemistry you two have on stage and the new album and all the touring, it seems to be working perfectly for you guys. Does it ever get hard? Do you ever have those rough points on the road?
DT: Yeah, I think that’s inevitable in any situation. When you’re on the road with your wife or even band members, it’s part of the deal. I really think that it all comes down to the right personalities. I think that if we had a volatile relationship to begin with, then we wouldn’t have attempted something like this. I think it comes down to choosing the right spouse if you’re going to do something like this. It’s been amazing. We definitely didn’t go into it naively and think it was going to be a total cakewalk, but it’s been so much easier than we thought it would be.
There’s something about playing music together and watching something grow and watching the band grow. It’s like an extension of my family. I’ve got two kids at home. A lot of the work that goes into making a band work is a lot like having kids and a wife. I don’t mean that in a demeaning way. You have to think big and what’s better for the whole. That’s been really great for both of us. I think that we have too much going on to focus on each other in a negative way. There’s a lot of work to do, and we love being on the road making music. It’s been a pretty amazing run, I gotta say. When I think back to some of the other husband and wife teams that were out on the road back in the day, I think that era was so different. There was so much heavy drug use. Almost every band history from that era is pretty insane anyway. The ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s produced some amazing music but not much longevity. I think you go into it with a different mindset this day and age.
SC: You mention the band growing. Currently, you’re up to 10 members. You have tandem drums, horns and backing vocals. Was this yours and Susan’s goal for the project from the beginning or has it just evolved naturally?
DT: It’s evolved, but I wanted it to be a large band. It’s at 11 pieces now. Unless the right person comes along who adds to it, this really feels right. I remember watching footage from the Joe Cocker “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” tour with Leon Russell and seeing that circus going down the road. I though that it would be a lot of fun. That’s one of the templates for what we’re doing.
SC: With the new album “Made Up Mind,” you have a ton of co-writers on the tracks. Did you have people in mind, or did they come to you?
DT: It’s all people that we’ve known for a long time and people who are extensions of the band. Eric Krasno, I’ve known him since I was 14 years old. We really just started writing together over the last half dozen years. Doyle Bramhall, we talked about him being in the band before we started. It’s all people who are close to the family and know us and know our life history and band history. It didn’t feel like anyone from the outside coming in. Like Oliver Wood from The Wood Brothers, it’s people that we spent a lot of time with. Sometimes, we’ll tour with them. Sometimes, they’ll come out and sit in and hang. It’s very much a part of the extended family.
SC: One thing that I like about Tedeschi Trucks, especially with your live show, is that it’s not just about you and Susan. It seems like everybody gets a chance to do their thing. That really shows through on “Made Up Mind.” How did the songs come together? Was it you and Susan laying the foundation or a creative free-for-all?
DT: Everybody’s input is welcome at all times. It really is a democracy that way. I think the thing that I was most pleased with on the making of this record is that I feel like all 11 members of the band were only interested in making each song as good as it could be. If they had something to add, they would add. People were coming up with parts just to get on the record more. It was all about the whole. Everybody came into it selflessly. That was a big part of the growth of the band. I felt like we were all on the same page and seeing the big picture. That’s a rare thing this day and age. We live in a time where it’s me first. It’s nice to be a part of something that looks a little wider than that.
SC: A lot of musicians these days, even ones with high-end home studios like yourself, still tend to run to Muscle Shoals or Nashville to lay down their tracks. You seem to prefer to stick close to home when it comes to recording. You’ve pretty much laid down all of your albums, including Derek Trucks Band at home, haven’t you?
DT: The last three, yep. We did “Already Free” there and “Revelator” and mixed the live album (“Everybody’s Talkin’”), and we did the new record there. We’ve been really fortunate. We’ve built a pretty amazing studio down there. It sounds so good and feels so comfortable. There’s nothing that we’re missing that we would get out of another space, at this point. Maybe, eventually, we’ll try some other things. We’re still in the process of every time we go in that room, we make it a little better. It really is part of the growth of the band, too. The way we rehearse, record and write tunes is all a part of the process. It’s nice having a home base like that.
When I think about groups that grew up around a certain studio, there is something to the way they think about music, just because you’re always thinking about it in a sense where you can sit back and listen to what the band is doing. There’s something about a band that grows up in the studio. I think you’re a little more sensitive to the sound.
SC: It’s really been amazing watching you and Susan grow as musicians, and now, we’re watching the band grow. Where does it go from here?
DT: I don’t see any growth in members. I just feel like we’re at the best place that we’ve ever been with this band. Everything is locked and ready, and we found a bass player after an eight-month search of playing with people. It’s really an exciting time. It’s all about digging deeper now and seeing how much great music that we can write and play. There’s an evolution with every tour. It keeps getting wider and deeper. That’s the goal right now. We want to see how great we can make this band.
First Annual Crazy Sista Beach Party
Date: Nov. 1-3
Venue: Lulu’s at Homeport Marina, 200 E. 25th Ave. (Gulf Shores), www.lulubuffet.com
Tickets: $50/$150 VIP avail. at Lulu’s and their website