Dave Schools Shares Thoughts On Butch Trucks and the Allman Brothers Band’s Southern Influence

January 26, 2017

After the passing of founding Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks circulated yesterday, tributes have come in from all over the music world, including statements from Trey AnastasioGregg AllmanWarren Haynes and more, plus musical homages last night from the likes of Bob WeirTedeschi TrucksGreensky Bluegrass and more. Today, Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools posted a heartfelt note about his relationship with Trucks and the influence he felt from the drummer and the Allman Brothers Band in general, noting his early days learning ABB music to the times he played with Trucks and company on stage.

As one member of a Southern Rock staple to another, Schools talks about running into Trucks and the ABB members around the southern states when Panic were starting out, saying that Trucks “was always sweet and kind to us greenhorns” and that Trucks was one of the first to reach out to him upon the death of Panic guitarist Michael Houser.

On playing with Trucks and ABB, Schools recounts some specific sit ins and joked about Trucks messing with him on stage by counting the intro to “Dreams” in a different time signature. “I often had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming when I’d turn around and there was Butch: grinning at me like the Cheshire Cat.”

Schools also write about learning ABB basslines when he started the instrument and how Trucks and company inspired southern musicians, calling him “an architect of classic Southern Rock.”
“To say that Butch was family goes without saying,” Schools writes. “And it hurts to lose a family member.”

Read the full note below.

I’m not really sure when I met Butch Trucks for the first time. Most of the Allman Brothers guys were floating loose around Macon, GA and Florida as Widespread Panic forged our band chops all over the South, and we’d run into them on occasion in all kinds of places.

But I can say this about Butch: He was one hell of a real human being and everything an artist should be: opinionated, fierce, angry, and loud, but he was always sweet and kind to us greenhorns.

When he wasn’t berating us for signing with the Allman’s old label, Capricorn Records, he was seeking me out to talk about various things in our lives that usually had absolutely nothing to do with music.

He was one of the first people to contact me after the death of Michael Houser saying that he empathized with us having lost a fellow band member himself.

He never struck me as an architect of classic Southern Rock.

But he was.

When it came to powerful and soulful drumming the team of him and Jaimoe was about as bad assed as it gets.

Watching the ABB rebuild themselves throughout the 90’s was a joy to behold and I will treasure the times I sat in with them on classic tunes like Dreams and Southbound. It didn’t matter that Butch would always try to fuck with my head by counting in the intro to Dreams in 7. It was fun. He sounded of joy and the very stuff of life when he played…but when that locomotive locked in you better get off those tracks because there was no stopping that train.

To say that Butch was family goes without saying.

And it hurts to lose a family member.

One suddenly realizes there’s now a hole that can’t be filled. Certainly my association with his nephews Derek and Duane are well documented, but I’ve recently grown to consider all of the Trucks clan my family. My heart aches for each of them.

Every single one of the ABB guys have been a part of the history of Widespread Panic in so many ways that it would be impossible to explain.

I must also confess that I learned my first blues licks trying to play along with Barry Oakley’s bass lines on the Fillmore East LP. The Oakley-Jaimoe-Trucks rhythm section was relentless. As a young player it was devastating. But I learned. And I learned so much every time I played with the ABB. I often had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming when I’d turn around and there was Butch: grinning at me like the Cheshire Cat.

When Widespread Panic accompanied ABB on their 40th Anniversary Tour there was a night in Birmingham Alabama where they simply SLAYED Mountain Jam. I was watching from stage left and after the dust settled bassist Oteil Burbridge turned around to Butch and with a look of utter joy exclaimed, “That was great!”

Butch took his drink (which he rightly deserved) and toasted Oteil saying, “Here’s to us…we’re fucking great!”

No argument here Butch: you were fucking great and you stomped heavily on the terra leaving a mark of sound and rhythm that will resonate forever.

Thank you for being a real human and showing me so much love and so much about the power of rhythm.

Godspeed Brother Butch.