"Already Free" was self-produced by Derek at his new home studio in Jacksonville. In addition to the core members of the dTb, the album offers collaborations with a close circle of family and friends including Doyle Bramhall II, Oteil Burbridge, Susan Tedeschi, Duane Trucks and more. The album came to life organically in Derek's backyard as friends stopped by to write and rehearse in the new studio.
Original material makes up a major part of this record, largely due to a luxury Derek isn't used to: time off. His hectic schedule finally opened a window for Derek to write at home with band mates and friends. "Everyday I would get up, and me or Susan would drive our two kids to school," Derek says. "I'd come back, have some coffee and then head to the studio and start messing around with a guitar and hope a song idea appeared. Somehow without fail, there was at least a song written every day, or some great cover idea that came to us and we recorded it. So there was a good three or four-week period where every day we were writing and recording a song. That was different for me. " In addition to the wealth of original material on "Already Free", there are some choice cover songs interpreted and revived as only the dTb can do, including the single released in November."Down in the Flood," from Bob Dylan and the Band's Basement Tapes, is a tune that may have more portent now than when Dylan wrote it in 1967. "That was one that was kind of an afterthought," admits Derek. "We just went in and tracked it. I think it really turned out to be one of the most powerful songs on the album. Lyrically, it's pretty timely. Crash on the levee, down in the flood, are significant post-Katrina. They are good metaphors, as there are in most Dylan tunes".
The Derek Trucks Band has been a work in progress for over 10 years, blending jazz, rock, blues, Latin, Eastern Indian, and other world music into the sound that now defines the DTB. The band’s mission has been to assemble a group of musicians that share a passion for improvisation and musical exploration, and to develop a united musical vision by performing with this core group of players for an extended period of time. The focus of the band is on the art form itself, despite the current trend of image driven music on the scene today. The DTB aims to create progressive roots music in an effort to move the art form forward and re establish substance over hype. Following is a brief history of the band, and the diverse background of the musicians that make up the DTB.
Derek Truck's musical career began at the age of nine, when he picked up a five dollar acoustic guitar at a yard sale. "It was nothing special," he claims, “It was just the only thing that looked interesting." But that seemingly inconsequential purchase changed his life. After learning what he could from his father and a family friend, Derek began playing with other musicians around town. "It happened pretty quick," Derek remembers. Within the span of a single year, he had purchased an instrument, learned how to play, and began touring with his father acting as road manager/chaperone. What had begun as a weekend activity quickly became a life’s pursuit, and would eventually result in Derek being the youngest player to make Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" list. Derek got his first paying gig at age 11 and formed his first band at age 12. Todd Smallie, who played with many jazz and blues musicians in the Atlanta area, entered the picture in 1994, when Derek was 15 years old. "We have so many stories and so much in common,” says Derek, “It's been an amazing experience with him.” In 1995, Yonrico Scott rounded out the band's permanent rhythm section. More than 20 years older than Derek, Yonrico brings an incredible lifetime of experience to the table. Like Derek, Yonrico began to play music at an extremely early age, picking up the drums when he was only 7 years old, playing gospel music in church. While growing up in Detroit, Yonrico studied under Motown drummer George Hamilton before moving south to attend the University of Kentucky, where he received a Bachelor's Degree in percussion
Born in the Bronx, raised in Washington, DC, Kofi Burbridge first picked up the flute at age 6. He soon began ear training and studying theory at the same time. Kofi's musical education was rooted in classical and jazz -- for the flute. While attending college at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Kofi landed his first touring gig. Eventually making his home in Atlanta, Kofi took advantage of numerous opportunities to play with his brother Oteil (bassist extraordinaire) and a host of like-minded, enthusiastic musicians. He joined the Derek Trucks Band in 1999. In 2002, The Derek Trucks Band heard about vocalist Mike Mattison after recommendations by both DTB producers Craig Street and John Snyder in the same week. Mike had been performing and recording as part of a duo called Scrapomatic in the New York area. Mike performed with The Derek Trucks Band for several gigs and Derek soon realized he had found the final piece of the puzzle. Mike’s soulful voice and understated stage presence fit the band’s musical vision and Mike worked into a full time position with the band shortly thereafter. Mike, originally from Minneapolis, lived and played in Brooklyn for a number of years before finally being drawn to the Southeast and settling in Atlanta with the rest of his DTB bandmates.
Count M’Butu has been the mysterious sixth member of The Derek Trucks Band for the last six or more years. He is the only band member that doesn’t perform on every tour, but his presence with the band has become more frequent over time and the band always elevates their playing when he graces the stage. Born in Georgia in 1945, Count M'Butu studied music at Georgia State University and learned the art of drum making while in Africa, where he developed his love for and prowess on a variety of percussion instruments. He has worked with a wide variety of musicians, including Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Frank Zappa, and Chuck Leavell and has shared stages with Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler, the Allman Brothers Band, and Phish.
Once again, Derek and his band create another master piece. With Derek's steller guitar playing as the foundation, the band creates an unexpected gem of an album. Using a mix from the great Delta Blues artists, some folk/country like lyrics, Derek and the Band end up paying hommage to that classic blues based southern rock we all grew up to and Love. I believe this will be his most successful album to date!