If you're a music fan of a certain age — say, perhaps, 41 — it may strike you as a bit disconcerting to listen to Derek Trucks talk about his kids. For there's a good chance that the first time you heard Trucks' name, he was an 11-year-old headlining act with an uncle in the Allman Brothers Band and an alarming talent for playing the blues. What the kid lacked in experience, he made up for in soul, favoring the slide-guitar style of his hero Duane Allman and none of the screaming, over-the-top theatrics typical of many young guitarists.
But that was then. Today, Trucks is a 33-year-old married father of two who laughs easily and often, particularly when looking back on the early years of his career and while discussing the challenges of raising children who appreciate John Lee Hooker and Otis Redding in the age of Katy Perry and One Direction. He shares this challenge with his wife, the singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi, with whom he leads the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the 11-piece soul-blues act headlining this weekend's Sunshine Blues Festival in Boca Raton. Trucks spoke by phone from his home in Jacksonville, where the Tedeschi Trucks Band will reconvene next week to record its second studio album.
Last year, you performed at the White House as part of an all-star celebration of the blues. What can you tell me about that experience?
That was an amazing few days. There's something really amazing about thinking about the history of the blues and where it came from, thinking about B.B. [King] and Buddy [Guy], what they grew up in and the time period they grew up in, and then seeing them in the White House being honored. There was something really special about that.
One of my proudest moments as a parent was when my daughter, I think she was 7 at the time, we were at the first rehearsal, and I was pointing out all the musicians, like, "That's Mick Jagger. That's Jeff Beck. There's B.B., Buddy. That's Booker T. [Jones], who played on all the Otis records." And Sophia, my daughter, said, "That's the guy I want to meet. He played with Otis Redding?" I was like, "That is the guy you want to meet, actually." I just thought it was great. It wasn't about Mick Jagger or anybody else, not to take anything away from them, but Booker T. is kind of a diamond in the rough.
I imagine your kids hear a lot of the music you grew up with. How do they feel about pop music?
As a parent, you do everything you can to try to balance that. I mean, there's no doubt, they're inundated with it. I think my son keeps that stuff at arm's length maybe more than my daughter does. It's a really weird time for that. I mean, you look around at what young people are striving for these days and it's, I mean, I'm not that much older, but even going back to when I was growing up, I felt it was a lot better place to be.
Just last night, we were watching Joseph Campbell's ["The Power of Myth"], the Bill Moyers-PBS thing that came on maybe 20 years ago. We watched the first half-hour with the kids before they went to bed, and he's talking about heroes and "The Hero With a Thousand Faces" and all that humanity strives for. And it had me thinking about who the heroes are for this generation. And there's just so much stupid sh-- out there, and it's really kind of depressing. It makes you, as a parent, really have to work to explain the difference between somebody being a hero or famous for being a drunk or a whore, someone who won't even achieve something. And I think that's something you have to constantly be aware of.
But I'm pretty fortunate and blessed to have kids that have been exposed to things. I mean, they know the difference between Stevie Wonder and Miley Cyrus.
Still, it can be difficult to get away from certain pop songs, and every once in a while, you might say, "I don't mind that song." Will you admit to hearing a pop song and going, "OK, that one I can't get out of my head"?
I will not admit it. [Laughs] Actually, for the most part, we really do avoid any of that. I tell my kids, "Look, I'm not going to tell you what you can listen to. I will tell you what you can listen to in my house, in earshot of me."
What was it like to perform in clubs as a child?
That whole time period is a bit of a blur. I just remember some of the crazy rock clubs we would play. Looking back on it now, if you play that type of music, that's what you have to grow up doing. But I just can't imagine my 10-, 11-year-old kids in some of these places. But it was a hell of a learning experience, that's for sure. There are so many clubs that I think back on, and I'm like, "Those are just terrible places." But it makes you who you are.
So what's more difficult: corralling 11 musicians or raising 10- and 8-year-olds?
Eleven musicians, any day of the week. A lot of times, and myself included, musicians are kind of age shape-shifters. They can be full-blown adults one day and 8-year-olds the next. It's hard to plan for those things.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band will headline the Sunshine Blues Festival Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, in Boca Raton. The fest will begin at 11 a.m. Tickets cost $62.50. Go to SunshineBluesFestival.com.