‘Walking in Gratitude’ – Debut Album from The Melody Trucks Band
It seems hard to imagine that The Melody Trucks Band had their very first live appearance just two short years ago (09.30.17). That was at the Great Outdoors Jam. What made it truly special was the fact that, after delivering a superb performance, we noted that Trucks “told us it was the band’s debut and let us know how much the band appreciated our attention and love. It was a real emotional peak.”
The performance was so well received that they returned for Hometeam New Year’s Rally, knocking us out again on New Year’s Eve 2017, then again last year at Hometeam and the past two years at Orange Blossom Jamboree.
There is, however, no doubt that the emotional pinnacle occurred when The Melody Trucks Band finally graced the Mushroom/Amphitheater Stage in April at Suwannee Rising Music Festival, the festival which helped assuage the pain of loss for those of us who mourned for our beloved Bear Creek and Wanee music festivals. We noted with delight:
As noted, this was more Bear Creek than Wanee, but the next set was one of the most important of the weekend: the Melody Trucks Band. Trucks and her band deserved to be part of last year’s Wanee (2018) but were overlooked. Finally getting to hear this great band on the main stage was a treat beyond imagination.
It was transcendent. Trucks (percussion), Willis Gore (guitar), and Shane Platten (bass) all sang at some point during the set, full of great originals and some fine covers. They opened with “Fire Inside,” sung by guitarist and keyboard player Brady Clampitt, and “Syncronicity” and never let up. Trucks chose to “release the beast” early this set, turning Platten loose for “Jellyfish.” Isaac Corbitt had an outstanding solo, then paired up with drummer Shaun Taunton for more.
“Livin A Lie” was huge, Trucks on vocals, and then Lamar Williams, Jr., was invited to the stage for “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’.” “Freight Train,” a song dedicated to her dad, Butch Trucks, included a quick “Les Brers in A Minor Tease.” Trucks noted the influence the late Col. Bruce Hampton (Ret.) had on her, and they offered “Yield Not to Temptation.” Everybody took a turn, but West Brook owned this one. They closed the set with on of her dad’s favorites from Frogwings: “Pattern.” BRAVA! BRAVO!
THE ALBUM RELEASE PARTY
And now comes the much-anticipated news that the band’s debut album, Walking in Gratitude, will be released this Saturday, September 28. To celebrate its release, the band will play 1904 Music Hall in Jacksonville that evening. Melody Trucks is of course the daughter of the late legendary Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks and lives in Jacksonville.
Posted by The Melody Trucks Band on Sunday, September 1, 2019
Spurred by his tragic death in 2017, Melody felt compelled to remain close to her father through music. “I had thought many times in the past about starting something of my own, but was too afraid to actually do it.” says Melody. “Coming from my lineage, the thought of going into music can be intimidating. Everyone in my family is just so good. When my father died, I realized that tomorrow is not promised… if it is something I truly want to do, then I can’t wait.”
The album’s title, Walking in Gratitude, comes from a line in their song “Fire Inside,” written by Brady Clampitt and Isaac Corbitt. The evocative lyrics are reminiscent of the band’s early days. “I met all of them indirectly through my father,” recalls Melody, “I met Willis Gore first. (His band) Bonnie Blue opened for Freight Train on more than one occasion, and we struck up a friendship through those shows. Next, I met Isaac and Brady. Heather Gillis, who played with my father in Freight Train, was opening for the Corbitt-Clampitt Experience and invited me to come and sit in with her.”
“Lastly, I met Shane Platten, Shaun Taunton, and West Brook through Willis. I went to sit in with Bonnie Blue, and they were playing with a band called Ginger Beard Man. I got to sit in with them that night, and the rest is history.”
This truly is a “family” affair, and every show sizzles over a wide range of styles, including rock, blues, funk, soul, gospel, jazz and Latin.
Speaking of sizzling, Walking in Gratitude shoots sparks from start to finish. The nine tracks were recorded and mixed by Dave Murphy at Winterstone Sound and mastered by Peter Winter. The assistant engineer was Christian Manuel, and the album was produced by Murphy and The Melody Trucks Band. It’s a state-of-the-art recording, sonically superb. Throughout the nine songs (and in concert) every member except drummer Taunton contributes vocals.
Walking In Gratitude-Promo Video
Posted by The Melody Trucks Band on Friday, September 27, 2019
The album opens, appropriately, with the song Trucks has been performing for and about her father: “Freight Train.” She handles the vocals. About that. More than any other aspect of this band, the real emergence of Trucks’ powerful vocals has been key. Clampitt on organ and Trucks on congas provide the intro to the song, and West Brook’s slide guitar is featured during the break, and Gore gets in as well. This is a slow cooker. Melody’s brother Vaylor Trucks (of the incredible Yeti Trio) takes the outdo solo.
Thunder falling from his hands and his feet,
He couldn’t stop the train.
The rhythms falling from his soul wouldn’t stop,
He couldn’t wait to do it again.
Skydog sent him down that track,
And there was no looking back.
There you go, boy, just like that.
Ride that groove on home.
Clampitt sings on the song he co-wrote with Corbitt that yielded the album title, “Fire Inside”: “Every day I’m walking in gratitude; I get to spend this time with you.” The temperature’s up to medium on this one, with Corbitt behind the scenes early before taking a fine solo. Gore also roars here on guitar.
“Pride Comes Before the Fall” shows off Gore’s deep Southern vocal chops, but it is important to note that every song benefits from outstanding backing vocals from other members of the band (sometimes all of them). This one is truly reminiscent of the ABB sound. The long break simultaneously points to Clampitt on keyboards, Corbitt, Platten’s huge bass, and the overall ensemble sound. Gore has a fine solo at the end.
“Synchronicity,” at 3:30, is the shortest song on the album, and that’s too short, because this is a great, great song. Trucks’ vocals really stand out again. Drummer Taunton keeps a steady hand on the throttle here, as he does throughout the entire recording. Corbitt was not originally a member of the band, but his solo here assures you he was the perfect band addition, and West Brook tears it up again.
West Brook and Trucks team up for the album’s rockin’-est tune, “Living a Lie,” tossing back and forth the story of a relationship which has come to its conclusion. This is brilliant. Corbitt again steps out, and Gore soars on guitar, West Brook with the outro. This one pays honest homage to “It Ain’t No Use.”
At this point in the album, they’ve got you. “Can You Feel Me Now” slows the tempo down to chugglin’, Platten and Taunton again in charge of the pace. Clampitt digs deep on the vocals, with “A situation full of aggravation goin’ down.” Corbitt has a fine solo sandwiched between one by Gore and the other by Clampitt.
“Live Your Life” is another reminder of the great sound of Capricorn Records back in the day. Corbitt and Trucks bat the lyrics around:
I’m not here for a long time;
Just here for a good time.
This is just so much fun. And West Brook and Clampitt bat the guitar solos back and forth.
More kickass rock pours out on “Before I Leave,” Gore again crushing on vocals (if you haven’t checked out Bonnie Blue yet, what are you waiting for?). He also takes the intro and outdo solos. Clampitt solos on organ, and West Brook shreds again.
In concert, Trucks at some point says, “We’re going to release the beast.” That would be bassist Platten, a great player with a tremendous deep voice (and a few falsettos). “Jellyfish” is one of the tunes he tears up live. West Brook and Corbitt solo, but this is pure Platten. Better give him room!
That’s the story. This album sounds great the first time and only improves with age. It is a magnificent debut, and it certainly won’t be the last from this outstanding band.
You can go to the band website to pre-order the album, or, better yet, get yourself to 1904 in Jacksonville and pick up a copy at the release party! Advanced-ticket purchases include a copy of the CD!