Music Masters Camps’ seventh annual Roots Rock Revival will take place from August 5th through 9th at Full Moon Resort in the heart of the “Forever Wild” Catskill Forest Preserve in upstate New York. The camp was created by the late drummer Butch Trucks, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, in conjunction with bassist Oteil Burbridge (formerly ABB, now Dead & Company) and brothers Luther Dickinson and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars.
These all-star players sought to bring fans and musicians together to explore the world of the Southern Blues Rock movement, the Allman Brothers Band, and the music that forms the foundation of Rock ‘n Roll. Despite the sudden deaths of Trucks and Col. Bruce Hampton—who also joined the RRR family in 2016—Roots Rock Revival goes on in their memories and extends the focus onto the endless influence of the Grateful Dead.
In addition to Burbridge and the Dickinson brothers, the 2019 lineup will feature founding member of the Allman Brothers Band and drummer Jaimoe, jazz keyboardist John Medeski (MMW), keyboardist Marco Benevento and guitarist Scott Metzger of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Devon Allman, Duane Betts and Berry Oakley Jr. (The Allman Betts Band), Ashish Vyas and Jeff Franca (Thievery Corporation), Grahame Lesh and Elliott Peck (Midnight North), Vaylor Trucks (son of Butch Trucks), NOLA jazz drummer Johnny Vidacovich, frequent ABB-collaborator Junior Mack, and veteran Roots Rock Revival guitarist Brandon “Taz” Niederauer.
With the spirit and legacy of Butch Trucks ingrained in the foundation of the camp, the Allman Brothers roots are held down by Oteil Burbridge. Live For Live Music’s own Kendall Deflin, who has attended all seven years of the camp, recently sat down with Oteil to discuss the annual tradition that has become a family reunion of sorts every August.
Oteil Burbridge & Kendall Deflin Talk Roots Rock Revival
“It’s really amazing just how life unfolds. Butch always had great ideas,” reflects Oteil. “Wanee, Peach Fest, all that stuff. This camp definitely was one of his best. I think he’s probably really happy about it right now, even though we fought about existence after the body for 15 years. He’ll probably cut the lights off or give me some sort of sign and be like, ‘Okay, Oteil.'”
Beyond the music, part of the magic of Roots Rock Revival is the spiritual connection and communication that takes place at the camp. Everyone on site—from artists to participants of all ages and skill levels—is part of a collective energy that flows through the experience.
“Yeah, this summer is really going to take the cake. It really is. I could see it coming before, but just the things that are going on right now in the community, in the country, across the globe… I feel this big wave. It’s a good wave, and I think the camp is going to be that, concentrated. This one’s really going to be something. We might see aliens or ghosts or something.”
He continues, “Something’s going to happen this time. Everybody’s going to see it, man. It’s been happening a lot to me personally, and so I’m just really excited now because I’ve been kind of … I’ve been very cynical in the past and, I don’t know… Maybe cynical’s not the word, but a feeling of mild hopelessness. And now that’s gone. I’m like, ‘Oh, man. We’re at the crest of something.’ It’s really going to be deep this year. It’s going to be really deep this year.”
While the original foundation of the Allman Brothers Band is slowly fading, Oteil firmly believes in the next generation of the ABB family. He says, “I really wanted to–and maybe we still will, hopefully, I don’t know–I really wanted to get the remaining members of the last version of the ABB back together at some point before their 50th anniversary is over. But even if it doesn’t happen, I think the most important thing happening is Berry Oakley Jr., Duane Betts, and Devon Allman. I even have this picture, I think I posted it on my Instagram of all three of them and Lamar Williams Jr. together and I thought, ‘There are some happy papas up there and beyond about this happening.’ And so really, I think that’s probably the most important celebration of their 50th anniversary now that their direct descendants, their boys, have pulled together and are doing this. And I’ve been following it and it just makes my heart full. And they’re coming to Roots Rock Revival.”
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This right here makes my heart so happy. I bet there are some proud papas smiling deeply on this. Allman Brothers Band Legacy in the flesh! (As pictured) Berry Oakley Jr, Devon Allman, Lamar Williams Jr, Duane Betts. Now THAT’S about the best Birthday present you could give Gregg right there. @duanebetts @devonallmanofficial @lamarwilliamsjr @boak03 #takingthebatonandrunningitintothefuture ❤️🙌🏾❤️💪🏾❤️🙏🏾 📷 @backstageflash
In addition to the Allman Betts Band, Butch’s son, Vaylor Trucks (Yeti Trio), will be returning to the camp for his fourth year. “You know, one of my favorite moments of all was the last year,” explains Oteil. “I forget which night it was, but Vaylor just got carried away and I think the kids were chanting his name or something. I saw a couple of them crying. And it was just great because Vaylor’s always been kind of overshadowed by the Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, and all that stuff, and it was just like he was just having a full-on moment, and everybody could feel it. Everybody onstage. We were just all like, ‘whoa’. He just got swept away on this cloud, and the kids were just … I just started crying thinking about it. That was a sacred Roots Rock moment.”
He continues, “And his knowledge, too. You can get in some really heavy discussions with him about the different styles of music that he’s into. He just has such a beautiful mind, a beautiful brain. The way he looks at things, it’s deep. It’s really deep.”
The Allman Brothers family tree extends to players like Junior Mack, who will be returning for the second year. Mack is a regular member of Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band and has collaborated with the Allman Brothers Band countless times.
“I just called him in the last couple of days about coming to play with my band because I really want to incorporate some more Allman Brothers into it. I’ve just been really missing it. I don’t know, maybe it’s the 50th anniversary that’s got me. And he’s so … his voice, his guitar playing and slide playing. It’s so there. That sound coming from him is so authentic. And I was like, duh. I’m calling Junior right now… ‘Yo, dude. How much Grateful Dead stuff do you know?’ And he said, ‘Well, you know, interestingly enough…’ He told me this whole story and it ended up with him basically listening to Europe ’72 in his car all the time now, and really just now it’s starting to really latch on to the Jerry thing, which is … I came too late as well. I was like, ‘Great. I’m going to send you a YouTube playlist. Just learn these at your leisure. You’re already in there. No big whatever. I’m going to call you when you have time and when it all fits together.
“I want to do these Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers mashups,” because … It’s duh. It’s just a ‘duh’ thing,” he jokes. “And I don’t know why I didn’t do it before, but everything in its time. He’s just one of my absolute favorites and such a great … he really needs to teach a thing there, honestly, because he’s such a great communicator and just such a great vibe, such a nice human. And just what a player and what a singer. Just, man. I’m super psyched he’s going to be there again.”
Outside of the Allman Brothers world, for Oteil, is the Grateful Dead. With Grahame Lesh coming back for the third year and bringing Elliot Peck with him, he’s excited to continue writing that chapter at Roots Rock Revival.
“I’m so glad. I’m always glad that Grahame continues to come back. He’s got such a good vibe so I’m glad he’s feeling it from this side too.”
The Grateful Dead representation has expanded this year with the additions of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead bandmates Marco Benevento (keys) and Scott Metzger (guitar), which Oteil is particularly excited about. In addition to more legendary jams, there will certainly be some “funny, funny funniness”, which is always appreciated in the late-night hours.
“It’s the spirits. When you think about everybody that’s coming and their personality, and their spirit, you just are like, ‘Wow, literally how could you want to miss it?’ It’s insane. It’s really out of control.”
With the worlds of the Allman Brothers Band and Grateful Dead colliding, it only makes sense that New Orleans music is represented at Roots Rock Revival—and who better than drummer Johnny Vidacovich to bring that Big Easy groove.
Oteil reflects, laughing, “Johnny V was talking, talking about getting ready to play or something. He goes, ‘The first thing you want to do is call down the Holy Spirit,’ and his eyes got real big. His whole banter is just priceless. I thought, ‘Oh, my God. This is so great,’ because I love New Orleans so much, and he’s just so much of New Orleans just wrapped up into his body and soul, and just to watch how he interacted with everybody so naturally, and having him and Jaimoe at the same time, we probably had … did we have him, Jaimoe, and Colonel Bruce all at the same time one year? Because that’s like three space aliens.”
While the three musicians never overlapped, there’s no doubt that their spirits continue to exist on the grounds of Full Moon Resort. In fact, Col. Bruce Hampton’s legacy still looms large over the camp, and if you come to Roots Rock Revival, you’ll most likely see for yourself.
“Oh, for sure,” Oteil agrees. “Boy, he’s been pulling some stuff in my life. I’m sure he’ll be there, and Butch too, and probably Kofi too now.”
To mix things up even further, bassist Ashish Vyas and percussionist Jeff Franca of Thievery Corporation will return for their third year as well, bringing an otherworldly element to the music coming in and out of Roots Rock Revival.
“They’re doing more of a reggae thing, which I love. I love sitting in on their class. I hate to call it a class. I don’t even know what really to call it, but for lack of a better term. Well, they were kind of like a history lesson really, and that was really beautiful for me because I love that music, but I don’t know a lot about it, and that was really cool. Everybody brings their different influences to [Roots] and it really, it does make it … it’s more like a retreat for me than music lessons or classes, and I end up feeling so filled up when I leave and feeling so good. It’s amazing.”
Outside of getting to know everyone on a personal level, the free-flowing form of the week also allows for participants to approach Oteil for some one-on-one bass lessons. Admittedly, the legendary bassist receives just as much from those interactions as the participants.
“You always learn from teaching, and I think it’s just like an automatic giveback, which is why I never resist doing it. It’s a difficult thing for some people. They have a lot of fear about teaching. I think it’s just something you have to do more and more of. Everyone is different. I sit them down and just go, ‘Well, what do you want to do?’ I don’t know where everybody is at specifically or what they specifically want to know, but somehow we find it, and then all of a sudden we find our footing, and then we’re off. And all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Oh, man. We’re out of time,’ or, ‘We’re way over time again,’ and it’s like, ‘Man, we could keep going. Let’s look at the schedule and see if there’s another spot.’ So I love that freedom to just put the schedule down and go, ‘Well, there’s a hole here and there’s a hole there, and let’s get together there.’ I love to see people have those ah-ha moments where it makes me think, ‘Okay, now I gave them something that set them off on a path that they’re just going to go down. They don’t even need me right now. Just off you go. We got the engine started and it’s a great thing.’ So, I hope some more of my friends and comrades that are a little scared to teach will go ahead and just give it a try. Trust me. You’ll love it.”
The one-on-one time certainly adds to the magic of the week, as anyone can go up to ask any one of these guys a question, have a meal with them, or just jam. The element of “beyond backstage” is what makes it unlike any other experience. Despite having some heavy-hitting rockers on-site, everyone is equal.
“I think it just takes that first time. There are some people that are very in awe of the Allman Brothers, or Dead & Company, or whatever, but then when they just see how available you are, it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ I would think it must be like that for like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, if they moved to Montana or something, just way out in the middle of nowhere, and I’m sure the first time you go to the grocery store, it’s like, ‘Oh, my God. There’s these Hollywood movie stars’ and then after about two weeks, it’s just like, ‘Yeah, that’s Kurt and Goldie.’ And I’ve loved that it’s that easy—like, sure, I’ll take your picture. Sure, you can ask me about whatever. Okay, now we got that out of the way…It just flows from there naturally. That part quickly passes and you get into the real relationship.”
When you spend five days with anyone, those barriers break down pretty easily. And typically, you walk away with some new friends. While attending lectures and workshops about the foundation of your favorite music is certainly a cool way to spend your summer, the value truly extends beyond the experience. Roots Rock Revival is a family, and there’s plenty of room for you to be part of it.
Do not miss Roots Rock Revival in Big Indian, New York at the Full Moon Resort from August 5th–9th. For more information on signing up, head over to the official website.