Earlier this year, revered guitarist Derek Trucks made a surprise appearance with Phish during the band’s Vermont flood recovery benefit finale at Saratoga Springs, NY’s Broadview Stage at SPAC. The collaboration at SPAC, which marked the Tedeschi Trucks Band guitarist’s second-ever guest appearance with Phish, came more than 24 years after a 20-year-old Trucks first joined Trey AnastasioJon FishmanMike Gordon, and Page McConnell for a two-song encore of “Possum” and “Funky Bitch” in Charlotte, NC on July 7th, 1999.

In addition to his two appearances with Phish, Trucks has shared stages with the members of the band as part of a slew of other projects. While the Derek’s 1999 sit-in with Phish marked his first time playing with Trey, he had logged stage time with the other three band members prior to that performance. On December 22nd, 1997, Derek Trucks and Jon Fishman both took part in Col. Bruce Hampton‘s annual Zambiland Orchestra blowout at Atlanta, GA’s Variety Playhouse. When the Derek Trucks Band opened for Gov’t Mule on March 26th, 1999, Page McConnell jumped in to add some keys to a rendition of “Mr. P.C.”, and Mike Gordon took a turn with DTB on July 5th, 1999 in Macon, GA—two days before Derek’s first Phish sit-in—when he and Jimmy Herring sat in on “Egg 15”.

Related: Tedeschi Trucks Band Makes MSG Debut With Trey Anastasio, Norah Jones, More [Photos/Videos/Audio]

After cementing the Phish/Trucks connection with the Charlotte 1999 encore sit-in, Anastasio and Trucks went on to cross paths twice onstage in 2002, as guests with Gov’t Mule and Gregg Allman at the Jammy Awards in New York on a show-closing “Soulshine” (10/2/02) and during a Trey Anastasio Band show at Angel’s Camp, CA’s Mountain Aire Music Festival (5/25/02), during which Derek joined in on “Cayman Review” and stuck around as Les Claypool joined the fray for “Night Speaks To A Woman”.

The summer of 1999 was a big moment for Derek Trucks. Along with sitting in with Phish and touring with his namesake solo outfit, Trucks became a full-time member of the band co-founded by his uncle, drummer Butch Trucks: the Allman Brothers Band. During his tenure with the iconic Southern rock group, Trucks and the other Brothers welcomed members of Phish into the fold on various occasions.

In addition to guest appearances by Mike Gordon (3/28/04  at the Beacon Theatre on “Southbound”) and Page McConnell (3/21/05 at the Beacon Theatre on “Layla” and 3/12/09 at the Beacon Theatre on “Southbound”, “I Know You Rider”, and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”), Trey Anastasio notched four Allman Brothers sit-ins between 2005 and 2014 (3/22/05 at the Beacon Theatre on “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, 8/28/05 at Essex Junction, VT’s Champlain Valley Exposition on “Mountain Jam”, 3/12/09 at the Beacon Theatre on “Southbound”, “I Know You Rider”, and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, and 4/11/14 at Live Oak, FL’s Wanee Music Festival on “Who’s Been Talking?” and “Franklin’s Tower”).

The Phish/Trucks connection remained strong even after the Allman Brothers Band retired in 2014. At LOCKN’ Festival 2016, Page McConnell and Jon Fishman took part in a Phil Lesh & Friends performance that featured a sit-in by Derek and Susan Tedeschi on “Mr. Charlie” and “Sugaree”. In 2017, both Derek Trucks and Jon Fishman took part in Hampton 70, the surreal 70th birthday party for Col. Bruce Hampton at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, and both were onstage with the Colonel and the rest of his successful students when he collapsed during the show’s closing “Turn On Your Love Light” and later passed away, a cosmic curtain call befitting of Hampton’s larger-than-life presence in the improvisational music world.

The collaborative relationship between Derek Trucks and Trey Anastasio in particular has blossomed in recent years. On October 14th, 2017, Trey stepped in with Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Beacon to add guitar and vocals on a rendition of Leon Russell‘s “Delta Lady” and a sprawling, 33-minute take on the Allman Brothers Band’s “Mountain Jam”.

The reaction to the Trey/TTB combo was so overwhelming that LOCKN’ Festival dedicated its 2019 headlining slots to the connection: one night of Trey Anastasio Band with Derek Trucks, one night of Tedeschi Trucks Band with Trey Anastasio.

Anastasio and Trucks were vocal about their mutual respect and admiration as musicians in the lead-up to LOCKN’ 2019. When asked who his favorite living guitar player was during an interview SiriusXM Phish Radio‘s Ari Fink, Anastasio didn’t hesitate. “Derek is, without question, my favorite guitar player—and, I think, the best guitar player on Earth right now,” Trey said. “When Derek came along, I saw him first when he was young. I loved his playing so much that, it’s like, I almost wanted to write him a thank you note. He made me believe in the guitar as a serious instrument again, and he affected the way I play. I’m playing better because of Derek Trucks.”

Derek, in an interview with Quincy, MA’s Patriot Ledger, added, “It is fun for me, having to work up someone else’s music and see where I might fit in. You really have to think about what material will work for us both, and Trey is such a super-unique player, with a whole style he’s kind of started by himself. It’s just fun digging in and trying to find that common ground.”

On the festival’s second night, TAB closed down the LOCKN’ main stage with two sets, the second of which featured Derek Trucks on guitar throughout.

Wasting no time, the Trucks-augmented band dove into Phish/TAB crossover “Set Your Soul Free”. On this first tune and the rest of the Phish-heavy set that followed, Derek Trucks proved to invigorate the band and its leader with his searing slide guitar work. From “Everything’s Right” to “Camel Walk” to “Ghost”, “Blaze On”, and “Dark and Down”, Trucks’ outstanding contributions made each song—and their ensuing jams—more powerful than the last.

Toward the end of the set, Derek’s wife and Tedeschi Trucks Band co-bandleader Susan Tedeschi emerged onstage to duet with Trey on a rendition of Ghosts of the Forest lament, “A Life Beyond The Dream“. While this song had started to make its way into both Phish and TAB setlists since it debuted during the inaugural Ghosts of the Forest run earlier that year, this version featuring Susan’s soulful vocals and Derek’s tasteful accompaniment made it easily the most memorable version to date. Susan stuck around for another Trey song, “Rise/Come Together”, before ceding the stage to Trey, Derek, and company for a “Push On ‘Til The Day” set-closer.

With time for a few more, Trey and Derek returned to the stage with acoustic guitars in hand to kick off their encore with another Ghosts of the Forest tune, “Brief Time”, and newer-vintage Phish staple, “More”. Finally, the two guitarists traded their acoustics in for their go-to axes and welcomed the rest of the band members back to their places for a thrilling one-two punch of “46 Days” and “First Tube” to cap the monumental performance.

The following night, it was Tedeschi Trucks Band’s turn to host the LOCKN’ crossover festivities. Following a first set filled with fan-favorites, TTB cleared the stage for a set break ahead of their billed Trey collab. When the band returned to the stage, they were flanked by both Trey and another guest guitarist, Doyle Bramhall II, a frequent collaborator of Eric Clapton‘s. Why is the Clapton connection important to note? Let’s go to the setlist

The band opened the set with its first-ever rendition of an old Clapton favorite, Derek and the Dominos‘ “I Looked Away”. Another Derek and the Dominos debut, “Bell Bottom Blues”, was up next. The next song, “Keep On Growing”, was much less surprising, as TTB frequently fits this Derek and the Dominos cover into its live sets, but while the song selection may not have been particularly exciting in a vacuum, its appearance after “I Looked Away” and “Bell Bottom Blues” was immediately telling: Those are the first three songs on Derek and the Dominos’ classic 1970 album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. A superimposed image of the album’s cover art on the stage screens confirmed the suspicions: this set was going to be all Layla.

The Trey- and Doyle-bolstered Tedeschi Trucks Band more than did justice to this iconic album, showering in scintillating guitar lines to mirror the lauded work by both Eric Clapton and Duane Allman on the original album. From “Key To The Highway” to “Little Wing”, from Susan’s bracing vocals on “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” to Trey and Derek’s dueling guitars on the set-closing “Layla”, this album recreation made for a stunning night in Virginia.

As Trucks told Guitar World of the Layla set, “We had one call early on, and I had the idea of leaning into a handful of Dominos tunes. We were at Red Rocks and I was about to call Trey back to discuss this. I mentioned some of the tunes we were thinking about to my friend Julie, and she said, ‘You should just do the whole [expletive] record. … That was immediately the most obviously correct thing in the world. [Laughs] As soon as I mentioned it, Trey talked about how important that record was to him and that he’s never learned all those tunes and he’d love to.”

Related: The Garden Parties: Tedeschi Trucks Band Plots TD Garden & Madison Square Garden Shows

Tedeschi Trucks Band went on to release a recording of the Layla set with Trey and Doyle in 2021 as an official live album, Layla Revisited. At that time, Trucks seemed to view the live album with a sense of finality as the culmination of his long, varied history with Trey—though he did leave the door open to future collaborations.

When asked by Guitar World if he thought he would collaborate with Trey again in the future, Trucks responded, “I would imagine so because it was so much fun, but when a one-off like this goes so well, there’s a part of me that wants to just let it live in that space. … There’s something beautiful and powerful about something actually existing once… but I’m sure we’ll end up playing together again somehow.”

Below, watch a selection of videos of the various onstage collaborations between Derek Trucks and the members of Phish through the years.

Phish w/ Derek Trucks – “Possum”, “Funky Bitch” (Son Seals) – 7/7/19

[Audio: fromtheaquarium]

Gregg Allman, Trey Anastasio, Derek Trucks, Gov’t Mule – “Soulshine” [Pro-Shot] – The Jammys – 10/2/02

[Video: Relix]

The Allman Brothers Band w/ Page McConnell, Trey Anastasio – “I Know You Rider” (Traditional), “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” – 3/12/09

[Video: Arturo Costa]

The Allman Brothers Band w/ Trey Anastasio – “Franklin’s Tower” (Grateful Dead) – 4/11/14

[Video: Suwannee HD Streams]

Phil Lesh & Friends w/ Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Jon Fishman, Page McConnell, More – “Mr. Charlie” (Grateful Dead) – 8/27/16

Tedeschi Trucks Band w/ Trey Anastasio – “Mountain Jam” (Allman Brothers Band) [Pro-Shot] – 10/14/17

[Video: Tedeschi Trucks Band]

Trey Anastasio Band w/ Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks – “A Life Beyond the Dream” [Pro-Shot] – 8/23/19

[Video: Trey Anastasio]

Tedeschi Trucks Band w/ Trey Anastasio, Doyle Bramhall II – “Layla” (Derek and the Dominos) [Pro-Shot] – 8/24/19

[Video: Tedeschi Trucks Band]

Phish w/ Derek Trucks – “Golden Age” – 8/26/23

[Video: NYS Music]

Phish w/ Derek Trucks – “First Tube” – 8/26/23

[Video: elias8040]

Phish w/ Derek Trucks – “Possum” – 8/26/23

[Video: grad Gd]

Phish w/ Derek Trucks – “Everything’s Right” – 8/26/23

[Video: elias8040]