Butch Trucks Talks Beacon, Roots Rock Revival and A Possible ABB Revival
This will be the second year of the Roots Rock Revival event [which takes place August 18-22 at the Full Moon Resort, outside of Woodstock, NY]. How would you describe it?
Well, the guy who owns that facility, got in touch with me after he heard that I was looking to do something like this and I got the players [Once again 2014 will feature Butch, Oteil, Luther, Cody and Craig Keil]. It’s classes and seminars and then we jam at night and get up and do it again the next day. It’s really a first rate place. The way the guy who owns the place makes money is on the weekends he has weddings, so he has a full staff to cook gourmet meals.
The way they advertise it is they call it “beyond backstage.” We get to know pretty much everybody’s who there. That’s what they like about it and that’s what we like about it. People get to jam with us every night and we all get to know each other. It’s fun.
Since this may be the final Beacon run, are you planning to do anything different in terms of playing by yourselves versus bringing in guests?
Bringing in Betts?
No, guests, although since you mentioned it, I’ll get to that in a minute…
It’s going to be the Beacon like it always is—we’ll definitely have guests. Jon Podell [the band’s booking agent] has been driving me crazy trying to get us not to have guests but that’s what the Beacon is, people come there to try to find out who’s there that night.
At this point how much do you work things out in advance versus on the fly?
It’s pretty much all on the fly. The only time that we really gave it serious rehearsal was in 2009 for that 40th anniversary, when every afternoon we had rehearsal and went over the tunes. Other than that it’s pretty much whoever shows up, we pick out a song and play it, see if it works.
Well, since you brought it up…As this may well be the final year of the ABB, I’m sure you understand that there are a lot of fans would like to see things come full circle and have Dickey Betts sit in for some portion of a show…
I don’t think he’d do it. I don’t think he’s even the least bit interested. We have invited him to come to a couple things like that Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards and he didn’t come. For the 40th anniversary we also invited him and he didn’t come.
As I understand it though, he seriously considered it and nearly came out…
But he didn’t make it did he?
Point well made. Back to the Beacon, I know the people would love to hear about some of your favorite moments from throughout the years?
God, there are too many of them. Every time we play, something special happens. There’s something very magical about that place. It’s kind of hard to beat doing “Layla” with Eric Clapton and kind of hard to beat doing “Whipping Post” with Natalie Cole. She blew the roof off the place, that was incredible. We always manage to come up with something. It’s just magical, it’s fun. I just hope it keeps going because I sure will miss it.
Alan Paul’s oral history of the band has just been published and you contribute the foreword. I know that over the years you’ve mentioned writing your own book. Is that something you’re still considering?
I’m absolutely going to do that. I’ve actually started writing one a few times in the past but I get a month into it and then I have to leave and I come back and I throw it in the garbage. The way I need to do things is I need to start on it and not quit until I finish, so I need enough time in France [Trucks maintains a second home there] where it’s nice and quiet and I can spend 4 or 5 hours at my computer each day. I have a pretty strong feel for what I want to do. I’m not going to worry about digging up the exact correct day or who wore what, I just want to tell the story because no one seems to know the complete story about Duane. Maybe I’ll do it like Henry James or William Faulkner, just a steam of consciousness. I’ll get me a roll of paper and rip off Kerouac [Laughs].
How often are you in France these days?
This year we’re going to be there from May through November. I’ll fly back for shows but we absolutely love it over there. It’s so much more calm and peaceful. Then we’re back here and everything is just nuts. Over there you go out to dinner and you’ll spend three hours and have a good time just talking. Then you’re back and you have 15 things on your schedule today and tomorrow. It’s just non-stop.
Do you still see R. Crumb over there?
Last time I was there we went to a very strange art exhibition at some guy’s house. It was very unique. We spent the whole afternoon talking about it and talking about San Francisco. He’s a really neat guy.
Last question: Do you have any final thought to share with folks regarding this year’s Beacon run?
I’d just say, “If you want to see us again then you better come. This might be it. If you don’t, then don’t come. I’m gonna be there…”