Derek Trucks Band, The NorVa Theatre, Norfolk, VA- 11/23
This year, Norfolk, VA had its dessert the night before Thanksgiving dinner. The Derek Trucks Band played for a relatively full house, considering it was the eve of a holiday and everyone is usually visiting with friends who’ve moved away and are back visiting, but they were done by 11:30 in consideration of the date. As time approached to leave for the venue, I didn’t feel all that much like going, just because friends were in town who I hadn’t seen in a while, so I appreciated the early finish. I was able to get in two sets with The Derek Trucks Band and still had enough clearance to find some old lost friends to hang out with after the show, not too long after midnight; this also allowed for some you-missed-it bragging on my part.
Just to avoid having to mention this on every song in the following review, I’ll say now that Trucks is deeply talented. Only in his mid 20’s, you have to wonder about the music he’ll craft in his 30’s and beyond. His solos are the kind that’ll stop a hippie in mid spin so that he/she can stare at Trucks’ fingers talk about talented!
The show started pretty close to the scheduled slot, which doesn’t happen very often in the world of live music. Set one began with “Leavin’ Trunk,” Trucks warming up his slide, and “Kam-ma-lay,” a Latin feel with lead vocalist Mike Mattison and bassist Todd Smallie harmonizing before keyboardist Kofi Burbridge pulled out a flute for a choice solo. The Hammond Organ spun strong through “Life is Crazy” before “Blind Cripple and Crazy” and a jammed-out instrumental version of Richard Rodgers’ “My Favorite Things” that even the bikers in the crowd could appreciate.
Set two ladled a meaty “Soul Stew,” “Everything is Everything” and an under-exciting “Sailing On,” on which I’m not a big fan of the vocal style. “Volunteered Slavery” featured Burbridge back on his flute > “I’ll Find My Way,” the rhythm and blues of “Key to the Highway,” “I Wish I Knew,” “Pedro” and “Hook and Sling.”
The night’s encore was a bring-the-church-down soulful “Spirit in the Dark” where Trucks took a fiery final solo. When performing with the Allman Brothers Band, Trucks is a young master among equals and blends into the team out of necessity. He’s certainly still a team member in the Derek Trucks Band, but this show at the NorVa reinforced that he’s the kind of rare guitarist who actually deserves to have a band bearing his name.