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Butch Trucks

by Bob Makin

For 30 years now, Butch Trucks has helped to propel the intricate rhythms behind The Allman Brothers Band's intricate harmonies. As the late Duane Allman, then Warren Haynes, now Jack Pearson sculpted dual guitar leads with Dickey Betts; Gregg Allman belted out his gruff vocals and punched his Hammond B-3; Berry Oakley, then Allen Woody, now Oteil Burbridge laid down a bass foundation, Trucks has been there with fellow drummers Jai Jaimoe and Marc Quinones to seemingly lift the Brothers' fans off their feet. That otherworldly zone of rhythm and harmony and true-as-blue blues-rock has made The Allman Brothers Band the greatest live outfit in the history of rock 'n' roll.
Twenty years ago, they were the pioneers of Southern Rock. Now with more than a hundred jam bands that cite the Brothers as a direct influence, as do some of the finest contemporary blues musicians, the band is so much more. As excited as he is about the Brothers' upcoming 30th anniversary, Trucks seems equally enthused about his new supergroup side project, Frogwings, featuring Quinones; Burbridge, who also plays with Aquarium Rescue Unit and in his own Peacemakers side project; his keyboard-playing brother and fellow ARU member Kofi Burbridge; ARU-Jazz Is Dead guitarist Jimmy Herring; Blues Traveler vocalist-harpist John Popper, and Trucks' 19-year-old guitar sensation nephew Derek Trucks. Popper has replaced original Frogwings vocalist Edwin McCain and has increased the band's energy level, Trucks says. Having recently recorded a live album at the jam haven of Wetlands in New York City, Frogwings will be heard from again this summer when the disc comes out on Trucks' own Flying Frog Records.

From now to then, there'll only be 30 years of Allman Brothers Band history to celebrate, first with March Madness, the annual month-long stand at New York's Beacon Theatre, and then on an anniversary summer tour. I spoke with Trucks about this history, his new band and the obscure Southern sport of corkball, which, perhaps after this interview, readers will be playing all over the world.

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