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Derek Trucks Band, Kilohana Plantation, Kauai, HI- 12/5

It’s hard to feel anything but cool when you go to a Derek Trucks Band show.
Don’t expect flash or antics. Instead, expect a feeling akin to sitting in a room with good friends where the conversation is unexpected, and there is no need to be guarded or to put on airs. That’s what a Trucks show feels like pure, unguarded conversation.
The music is fluid and inviting and holds your interest for its entirety. The vocals of Mike Mattison do not so much get delivered as flow out on the fabric of the music and offer relief to eager ears. Much like conversation, that voice calls for a response and more often than not it is a smile or the closing of the eyes and a slow back and forth of the head. Trucks’ guitar playing is easy to hear on that level, but it is more difficult to not rely on the eyes to watch the delivery. Unassuming is one of the few words to describe his manner, yet watching Trucks ply his craft may compare to seeing a master create great works before they are even realized as such; it either looks too easy thereby belying the complexity, or, you just know its good.
Most of the core fans of Trucks seem to just know. His playing implies talent without a need to hide behind silly behavior to mask any lack of ability. Rarely does Trucks step out to center stage, but his presence and playing makes it clear whos the boss and he leads the musical explorations, be they new or established. His fans appear to want every note that comes out of the 2000 ’61 reissue Gibson SG.
Exploration had its hand in the Kauai stop on the recent swing through Hawaii at Kilohana Plantation on Dec. 5. A gale force storm the night before threatened the band’s ability to reach the island, but the wind let up and the planes were able to land. Once on stage the band seemed relaxed and at ease launching into its only set with a group of songs that wandered from the stage set list but included ‘Soul Serenade/Rasta Man Chant’ and Favorite Things. Songs on the list included Sailing On, Blind Crippled and Crazy, and Fredies Dead.

Unfortunatley the acoustics at the venue were awful. The metal shed-type structure at Kilohana was erected for arriving cruise ship passengers to enjoy hula shows. The structure does not lend itself well to good music. Near stage offered clean enough sound, but more than halfway to the back of the room and the sound was pretty garbled.
Fortunately for Trucks he has the backing of an incredible group of musicians and their combined effort was noble in its attempt to defeat the bad acoustics. Kofi Burbridges flute held well in its accompaniment at delivering high quality sound, while Count MButu offered some solid groundwork upon which to identify the sounds coming from the other members of the band.

Todd Smallie on bass, and Yonrico Scott on drums cannot be overlooked for their contributions to the overall conversation had by band and crowd on that Wednesday night. Despite the gale and the sound, most in the crowd let fly those mundane realities, responding with a slow, contented back and forth of the head and a nod every now and again.

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