When Derek Trucks was 9 years old, he picked up a guitar for the first time. Within a few years, he was playing live with Bob Dylan.
“I was probably 11 or 12,” recalls the former guitar prodigy, now 42, speaking on the phone from the Jacksonville, Fla., home he shares with wife and bandmate Susan Tedeschi. “My first solo band had been booked to open shows for him, and maybe he snuck in and watched a set. The last night we were with him, he asked me to sit in for a handful of tunes. Right time, right place.”
Nearly a decade later, Trucks — nephew of the late Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks — was on the road with Phil Lesh & Friends and Dylan.
“That was the first time I’d seen Dylan since I was 11,” says Trucks. Dylan remembered him. He even remembered the venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Fla. “I was shocked he even made the connection that I was the same human because it was age 11 to 20. He has an incredible memory.”
Maybe so — but it’s pretty hard to forget Trucks’s incendiary live playing. Just YouTube him at 13, ripping “Layla.” It doesn’t feel like exaggeration to call the two-time Grammy winner, named the 16th Best Guitarist of All Time by Rolling Stone, a guitar genius, or say he was born to play.
Trucks joined the Allman Brothers Band in 1999. When Tedeschi, a Norwell native and Berklee College of Music alum, opened with her band for the Allmans that year, the singer and guitarist’s chemistry was palpable.
“It was pretty instant,” says Trucks. By 2001, they were married. He had proposed on a St. Augustine, Fla., beach by hiding a ring in a seashell.
“He’s like, ‘Hey, check out this shell I found!’ I look and I’m like [crying sounds],” recalls Tedeschi, 50, with a laugh.
“I think I actually surprised her,” Trucks adds.
In 2010, they married bands, forming Tedeschi Trucks Band.
“We’d been married about 10 years and had two children and we were like: ‘I think we’re ready to start a band,’” Trucks says with a laugh (he says almost everything with a laugh). “You gotta take these things slow.”
If Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton started a 12-piece jam band, it might sound something like Tedeschi Trucks. Sparks fly when they’re in a groove, and they’ve earned a reputation as a bring-down-the-house live act.
Now they’re getting ready for a trip to Martha’s Vineyard Saturday and Sunday to play at the Beach Road Weekend festival, just days after releasing a double-disc live album, “Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’)” featuring Trey Anastasio.
If you’re into the jam scene and had access to the Internet in 2019, you heard about this magical set at LOCKN’ Festival in Virginia, in which Tedeschi Trucks played the classic Derek and the Dominos album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” almost in its entirety, with Anastasio and Doyle Bramhall II.
“It was just one of those shows that, from the first note, felt different. It was incredible. It exceeded our expectations,” says Trucks.
Even Chris Trucks was impressed. “My dad was sitting side stage with the most massive grin. When it’s good he lets you know, and when it’s not good he lets you know, and he was pumped,” Trucks says. “I was like, ‘All right, it was a good night. Chris Trucks was happy.’”
The idea to perform the album came up organically, says Trucks, who was named after the fictitious “Derek” of the Dominos, a band fronted by Clapton and featuring another guitar wizard, Duane Allman, who founded the group that would eventually include Trucks. “As soon as we thought about it, it seemed like the perfect thing. We have so many connections to the album from 100 directions.”
Another connection: As Trucks was looking up lyrics to a song, he noticed the album had been released on the day Tedeschi was born, Nov. 9, 1970. “I was like: That can’t be possible,” Trucks says. “That’s wild.”
Like Trucks, Tedeschi started playing at a young age. She performed in bands in high school and college, immersed herself in the Boston club scene (“I used to love the Plough and Stars, Toad’s Place, Johnny D’s, Harpers Ferry, the Paradise, House of Blues”), then started the Susan Tedeschi Band a couple of years after graduating from Berklee in 1991. That band released a half-dozen albums, receiving multiple Grammy nominations in both the rock and blues categories.
You’ve likely shopped at her family’s chain, Tedeschi Food Shops. “They sold it a few years back,” but she still has family in Norwell, Marshfield, Hanover, and Plymouth.
Since 2010, Tedeschi Trucks Band have won a Grammy and played the Obama White House with guitarist Warren Haynes, among other career highlights.
“I’m just honored to be in a band with Derek. He’s incredible,” Tedeschi says. “We work hard in this group, and it’s always fresh. There’s a magic because of the camaraderie and love in this band.”
When they married bands, they wed fanbases too — sometimes literally. Couples have formed from a Tedeschi fan meeting a Trucks fan at a show. “It’s kind of great,” Trucks says.
Still, “there was a little blowback — people who wanted my band to continue what it was doing, wanted Sue to continue what she was doing. But if somebody’s not upset, you’re probably not trying,” Trucks says with laugh.
While hunkered down during quarantine, the couple stayed busy in their home studio. “We probably have two or three albums in the can,” Trucks says.
Now they’re itching to be on the road (though they won’t be accompanied by their entire band for the Beach Road dates or other stops on their “Fireside Live” tour). Tedeschi, for one, can’t wait to return to Martha’s Vineyard.
“I used to be on the Vineyard all the time,” she says. “There was one July where I had 30 gigs out of 31 days. I played the Rare Duck, David’s Island House, the Ritz, the Hot Tin Roof. I’m really looking forward to going back — it’s been 20 years. This is monumental for me.”
TEDESCHI TRUCKS FIRESIDE LIVE
At Beach Road Weekend, Veterans Memorial Park, Vineyard Haven. July 24 (sold out) and July 25, 6 p.m. www.beachroadweekend.com