Last night Scarlet and I went to San Francisco to see The Derek Trucks Band in concert. We took CalTrain and Muni to get to the venue, the Regency Center Grand Ballroom. Despite the pictures of the venue I found on the Internet, once you get inside, the place is a bit of a shithole, and the atmosphere of the concert had a lot more in common with the Primus concert I went to a few years ago than I would have expected. The air inside the hall was thick with smoke, likely none of which was made of anything legal. But all that was forgotten once the show started. The band led with the big single off their latest album, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Down In The Flood." It was a performance by the band of this song on Conan's show that got me interested in them.
The Derek Trucks Band is a bit like Van Halen, in that the leader of the band is not the lead singer. Derek Trucks is a guitar virtuoso of the first order. Many authorities, first among them Rolling Stone magazine, argue that he may be the best guitar player alive today. Tiger plays golf. Derek plays the guitar. What the two of them have in common is a mastery of their instrument that transcends the separation of the tool from its owner. Tiger shot a Nike commercial a few years ago that showed the level of virtuosity I'm talking about. The story of that ad was that they intended to shoot something entirely different, and while waiting around for the shooting to start, Tiger started noodling away with a ball, just for fun, doing exactly the sort of thing shown in the ad. He's so good that he just does things for amusement that are damn near impossible for anyone else. That's how good he is. If you get a chance to see Derek Trucks play the guitar, it becomes obvious in an instant that he has as close a connection to his instrument as Tiger has to his golf clubs.
The band played about 45 minutes worth of selections from their current album, as well as a few tunes I didn't recognize, but were still great.
Then the drummer announced, "We have a special guest joining us now. Please welcome, Mr. Carlos Santana!"
Carlos joined the band on stage and the drummer launched into a heavy latin rhythm while Carlos and Derek started a freestyle jam session, echoing each other's riffs back and forth. It was an awesome spectacle.
The pity was that at about 11:15 PM, we had to leave to go catch the last train home. I don't know how much longer it went on. All I can hope is that we didn't miss much of it.
We're going to bed now. It's about 2 AM. But it was worth it.