This week on American Routes Shortcuts, we feature Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks of the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Susan Tedeschi grew up outside of Boston in a family of grocery store owners. Derek Trucks was raised in Jacksonville, Florida, listening to the Allman Brothers, his uncle Butch Trucks’ band. Worlds apart, Susan and Derek each honed their chops at local blues jams and pursued musical careers destined to collide. Susan attended the Berklee School of Music, toured with the Dead, and released eight solo albums. Derek played guitar in a later lineup of the Allman Brothers for fifteen years, and released ten albums under his own name. Now married with two kids, the solo musicians joined forces in 2010 to form the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Susan Tedeschi: In New Orleans, 19 years ago, I was opening for the Allman Brothers with my solo band, and Derek had started with the Allman Brothers that June, and we met in July. So he’d been with the Allman Brothers about a month.
Derek Trucks: A veteran
ST: Yeah he was a baby, he was 19 or 20, and I was 28.
DT: She was cradle robbing.
Nick Spitzer: Well you know what they say, it’s not the age, it’s the mileage that counts. Sort of the opposite of cars.
DT: Yeah, you know our tour bus that we had been traveling in for years, we just went over the 1.1 million mile mark on that sucker.
ST: Oh my goodness.
DT: We got some mileage.
ST: At first I was really nervous because he was watching my sound check, and I got really very intimidated by him. But he was very sweet, and he really liked a lot of great music and he was very bright. I was actually kind of blown away by how mature he was for his age and how sweet he was.
DT: You know I think a lot of people when they first see Susan are kind of struck by the difference between the way she looks and speaks and the way she sings and plays. It’s like, it’s this little package and then she opens her mouth, and it’s kind of musically frightening. So I like that.
NS: So move us up a little bit to being on the road together and well I guess you got married before you put your bands together, is that right?
DT: We waited a long time before we decided to put a band together.
ST: Yeah 9 years. It might not have worked if we had done it sooner. I think we matured and also got a lot of our own solo stuff out of the way. You know, like getting out and doing your own thing for a while is good for you.
DT: I mean we were both in the thick of our solo bands when we met, and you know you get to a certain point where you feel like you’ve kind of said what you wanted to say, and maybe you want to maybe try something different, and that’s certainly where I was when we started talking about putting this group together.
NS: A lot of what you guys do is tour. How do you guys handle 200 days of touring a year?
ST: Since we’re both so road worthy and we like it and we’re used to it, and that’s also the one way you have to support a 12-piece band and crew is to work, you know we can’t just sit at home and hope money’s gonna come in.
NS: Well it does help to like each other too.
DT: Yeah and like what you’re doing and like the band and you know all that makes a huge difference.
ST: The band and the crew, yeah they all get along great, and we all love each other, and we’re lucky to do this for work, you know.
DT: We think about that, we think about people like B.B. King and Willie Nelson, and like if they’re not complaining, we’re not complaining.
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