Q&A with Vaylor and Melody Trucks (Brother & Sister), the true music spirit of The Allman Brothers Band

"Their music hits on so many levels and, because of that, can reach so many. They did not limit their influence to any one particular genre - pulling in elements of blues, jazz, soul, funk, country... and they revolutionized what music sounded like. I hate to sound cliché in any way, but their music is really timeless... at least to me, anyway. People who are truly seeking genuine inspiration and creativity in music that stirs that place deep within us all, those are the ones that truly get it. It doesn't matter when they were born..."

Vaylor and Melody Trucks: Brother & Sister

Vaylor and Melody Trucks, each with their own projects, are coming together with new project band "Brother & Sister" to play their family's music, the music of The Allman Brothers Band. Approaching this music with the intentions of the true spirit in which it was created. Joining them are Eric Sanders (Col. Bruce Hampton's Fiji Mariners), Garrett Dawson (Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band), Matt Stallard (Chris Duarte Group), Pete Orenstein (Frankly Scarlet), and Willis Gore (Bonnie Blue). Vaylor grew up knowing his picture is on the cover of one of the best selling southern rock albums of all time. Rather than let that fact set his musical course, Vaylor has spent decades establishing his own voice, studying and performing jazz, progressive, experimental, and avant-garde music with greats such as Pat Martino, Dweezil Zappa, Mike Keneally, Bernard Purdie, Johnny Vidacovich, and Col. Bruce Hampton, as well as establishing The Yeti Trio, an experimental fusion powerhouse for more than 20 years. But the music his family made with The Allman Brothers Band stayed with him. Now, with Brother & Sister, Vaylor is embracing his roots.                 (Melody and Vaylor Trucks / Photo © by Sidney Smith)

Melody Trucks is a life-long student of music. Being born into a musical family, she was surrounded by incredible musicians from the start. She began studying flute at the age of  7, but expanded to all woodwinds as she progressed through high school. She switched to percussion in college, studying ethnomusicology with a focus in Balinese and Brazilian music. While she did sing occasionally with her brother, Vaylor Trucks of the Yeti Trio, it was not her main focus. After deciding to surprise her father, Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band, by singing at an open jam hosted by Hub Chason at the Bradfordville Blues Club in Tallahassee, Florida, Melody was invited to tour with his latest group, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train.

Interview by Michael Limnios  

Melody Trucks, 2018 Interview             Vaylor Trucks, 2014 Interview

How has the Rock n' Roll Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Melody: I spent a lot of time in my early adulthood steeped in the "Rock n' Roll Counterculture" so to speak. I spent time travelling to see music - most of my friends I met through going to shows. There is a very special kind of person that dedicates their lives to the pursuit of the feeling you get when experiencing live music. I have met so many amazing people, but the thing they all seem to have in common is a deep sense of love and kindness for each other and the music. I love the fact that I was able to raise my children going to the Wanee festival every year. It opened their eyes to how good people can truly be to each other.

Vaylor: There's a lot I could say here. I'm tempted to get into the semiotics of what exactly counts as "counterculture" in the context of rock and roll, but I suppose I could boil it down this way: in the late 1960s, the idea of putting together a mixed race band in, of all places, Macon Georgia seemed pretty revolutionary. When he was asked about it, Duane Allman said "there ain't no revolution, only evolution. Tell you what I'll do, when I get back home, I'll eat a peach for peace."

That sums it up - just be kind to each other. The rest will work itself out.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Melody: While my brother's answer for this is as close to perfect as you can get, the one thing I can add is how playing music, if done in the right spirit, is about letting go of ego and truly trusting and connecting with others in a way that you cannot do through any other avenue. This is something that we, as the flawed humans we are, will constantly struggle with, but in those moments where you achieve it, there's no other feeling like it in the world. THAT is what we chase....

Vaylor: The obvious one is communication. Without it, music falls apart pretty quickly. But what a lot of people don't talk about is - what, exactly, do you communicate in those moments. Knowing who to look to, what to communicate, and what to do with the information - all part of good communication. And the connection between kindness and professionalism. Almost without exception, the nicest musicians you meet also turn out to be the hardest working, the ones that show up prepared, the ones that show up on time. Look, chops might get you the gig, but kindness and professionalism will keep it.

"As for dad - he was my first music teacher. We talked about music all the time - from the time I was a teenager and developing my own taste in music. A good portion of what I know about music comes either directly or indirectly from conversations with Butch." (Brother & Sister / Photo © by Sidney Smith)

When did the idea of project Brother & Sister, come about?

Vaylor: Jeff Franca, drummer for Thievery Corporation, and I put together an Allman Brothers tribute project in Colorado called The Family Peach, and I brought in my fried Eric Sanders for the second drum spot. The tour went so well that Eric suggested that we try and put something together for the Southeast. So starting with a core of Eric, me, Melody, and Garrett Dawson, we hired musicians from the Southeast that we'd all worked with before and knew could handle the parts. Willis Gore on second guitar, Pete Orenstein on keyboards, and Matt Stallard on bass.

Why do you think that the Allman Brothers music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Melody: Their music hits on so many levels and, because of that, can reach so many. They did not limit their influence to any one particular genre - pulling in elements of blues, jazz, soul, funk, country... and they revolutionized what music sounded like. I hate to sound cliché in any way, but their music is really timeless... at least to me, anyway. People who are truly seeking genuine inspiration and creativity in music that stirs that place deep within us all, those are the ones that truly get it. It doesn't matter when they were born...

Vaylor: I think that people come to the music of the Allman Brothers for different reasons. I think there are some that resonate with the Southern identity, but more than that I think that fans of improvised American music - jazz, jam bands, Americana - I think those folks see the music of the Allman Brothers and a synthesis of a lot of the best traits from those traditions. And I also think there's a "musician's musician" aspect to the Allman Brothers. I think that if you're an instrumentalist of any stripe, there are musicians in the Allman Brothers that are regarded among the best of their peers.

What were the most important things you learned from the musicians in ABB band, Butch Trucks included?

Melody: Dad's constant craving for that place in music... the place where everyone does let go of ego, trusts each other, and truly communicates through their music... that is the most poignant lesson I have learned. He would say that sometimes, it could be a train wreck, but others, in those times when everyone was in it, was like nothing else. However - you can only get there if you LISTEN!

Vaylor: Back in probably 1990 Warren was kind enough to sit down with me for like 30 minutes and show me how to play some of the more difficult music I was trying to learn at the time, The Dixie Dregs, Mahavishnu and the like. He also offered me some tips for playing slide. Oteil continues to teach me every time we work together at Roots Rock Revival - especially when it comes to the application of rhythmic ideas to melodic constructs. As for dad - he was my first music teacher. We talked about music all the time - from the time I was a teenager and developing my own taste in music. A good portion of what I know about music comes either directly or indirectly from conversations with Butch. 

"The obvious one is communication. Without it, music falls apart pretty quickly. But what a lot of people don't talk about is - what, exactly, do you communicate in those moments. Knowing who to look to, what to communicate, and what to do with the information - all part of good communication." (Vaylor and Melody Trucks with their parents Butch & Linda at "the Farm" in Juliette, Georgia 1972 / Photo © by Dan Hudson Jr. & Bo Meriwether, Allman Brothers Band's album "Brothers & Sisters")

What is the impact of Allman Brothers music on the music legacy? How do you want the ABB music to affect people?

Melody: I don't feel that their impact can really be quantified. The older I get, the harder it is for me to truly try to comprehend just exactly how far their influence reaches.  It's humbling to a degree that I cannot explain. I would want their music to do exactly what it already does. It's the soundtrack of love, joy, pain, loss, the deepest emotions within people's lives. It is what people who seek it out need it to be.

Vaylor: Every year I meet kids as young as 9 and 10 years old who are just learning to play music that want to learn how to play the music of the Allman Brothers. Is it because the guitar parts are interesting? Is it because the songs are compelling? Is it because the jams are inventive? Is it because Gregg was good looking? Is it because their parents hooked them in young? I'm not sure I can say. I feel a good amount of pride in the music they made, and I do my best to do it justice. But the thing about legacies is - we don't get to decide what they are. Future generations will decide for themselves.

If you had a question you would like to ask one of ABB family tree musician what would it be?

Melody: I think we all communicate pretty well with each other, so there would not be any unasked questions... but, I think right now, coming out of this musical fast a lot of us have been going through... my question would be "when do you want to jam?" 

Vaylor: Well fortunately I can contact most of them pretty easily. We're all on pretty good terms with each other. So, for any of the 2nd generation Allman Brothers kids, my questions are usually "when are you in town?" and "can I buy you dinner?"

But for the sake of argument, let's keep it strictly musical. I wouldn't mind going deep on gear with Duane Betts. He's got a great ear and good tone, so I wouldn't mind picking his brain on instruments, amps, effects, strings, and the like.

Brother & Sister - Home

(Vaylor and Melody Trucks / Photo © by Sidney Smith)

Brother & Sister, Melody & Vaylor Trucks-Fronted Allman Family Tribute, Announce February/March/April 2022 Mini-Tour

Feb. 24 (Thur)               *BLUE JAY LISTENING ROOM          Jacksonville FL

Feb. 25 (Fri)                  *BLUE JAY LISTENING ROOM          Jacksonville FL

March 24 (Thur)              AISLE 5                                         Atlanta GA
March 25 (Fri)                 FURNITURE FACTORY                    Huntsville AL
March 26 (Sat)                ASHEVILLE MUSIC HALL                 Asheville NC
April 2 (Sat)                 *BLUE JAY LISTENING ROOM           Jacksonville FL
April 3 (Sun)                *BLUE JAY LISTENING ROOM           Jacksonville FL

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