Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’): A Fifty-Year-Old Breath of Fresh Air

Gordon Hensley
5 min readJul 18, 2021


Photo Credit: Stuart Levine/Relix

Derek and the Dominos’ iconic 1970 album, “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” — the seminal Eric Clapton masterpiece — was released over fifty years ago.

Fortuitously, the newly-released (July 16, 2021) live 2019 Lockn’ Festival performance of the album by the Tedeschi Trucks Band — joined by guitarists Trey Anastasio and Doyle Bramhall II — is infused with fresh, crackling energy, and executed in a contemporary style expertly-suited to Lockn’s core audience of informed live music aficionados.

Lucky to have been present that lovely, pre-Covid summer evening in the Virginia Blue Ridge, I, like many, were taken aback by the serendipitous one-off performance.

Plenty of musicians go out and “play an album live” for novelty, or for a quick change of pace while touring. But Layla isn’t “just an album” — and these weren’t “just some musicians” out there winging it.

Husband and wife Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi have deep, karmic connections to Layla. Trucks was named after the Clapton-fronted band; his uncle, Butch Trucks, was a founding member of the Allman Brothers; Tedeschi was born in 1970 the day Layla was released.

Just the promo of the title track, Layla, speaks for itself — as does Trucks’ poignant slide work during the infamous piano coda, summoning the spirit of Duane Allman, who recorded the 1970 original with Clapton in Miami at Criteria Studios.

Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune

Upon post-show reflection, I concluded this performance may have been my most unique Lockn’ experience of many — a festival renowned for top-tier acts, consistent performance excellence, and late night, multi-artist improvisational excursions.

Surely, I thought, the collaboration featuring artists of this caliber — performing an album of this historical significance — would eventually be released in some official capacity. Fantasy Records, having now done so, is drawing renewed attention to the performance, as well the original album.

The fact that nearly two years have gone by since the actual performance and its “official” release, two sidebar angles emerge in my mind with the benefit of perspective:

First, the superiority and range of TTB.

While subjective of course, the twelve-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band could be, pound for pound — the hottest, tightest, most explosive live act performing today. With a horn section and A-list band, Trucks has rightly equated its collective power to that of a “freight train.” Indeed.

The band’s blues, gospel, rock, Americana-oriented output appeals to a wide swath of music-lovers and festival-goers.

Moreover, Trucks’ relationship with the Allman Brothers and Clapton brings an ethereal quality to his monster guitar chops. When he begins to soar on a solo — which is frequently — others tend to respectfully get out of his way and smile in awe of his virtuosity, as does the audience.

The fact Clapton called Trucks out of the blue over fifteen years ago, and has traveled the world playing with and exchanging fiery solos as a member of Clapton’s touring band, is no surprise.

Parenthetically, it’s worth noting that both Trucks and Doyle Bramhall — a guitar gunslinger in his own right who tastefully stepped back somewhat to provide space for Anastasio — have toured the world together in Clapton’s band. Bramhall is also a current Clapton band member, and will tour with him this fall in the U.S., and Europe in 2022.

Second, the ongoing ascension of Trey Anastasio.

Prior to this Lockn’ Layla performance, Anastasio was quoted saying Derek Trucks is “the best guitar player on Earth right now.”

That’s the type of observation made by a secure professional. Immediately prior to the set, I and others were especially curious how the jam-band giant’s style would mesh alongside Clapton’s two premier lead guitar collaborators. It wasn’t even close. Anastasio crushed it.

Photo Credit: Rolling Stone

Widely applauded for his performances in the “Jerry Garcia role” at the final “Fare Thee Well” 2015 Grateful Dead shows — no easy feat among Dead cognoscenti — his skill, tasteful interaction and tone melded perfectly with Trucks and Bramhall; his lead vocals work with Susan Tedeschi was first-rate.

From Anastasio’s very first verse out of the box, on the very first tune, “I Looked Away,” he was excellent — smiling confidently with all on stage as the set unfolded beautifully.

Pulling it all off live, with such aplomb and skill — with just one reported rehearsal — was masterful.

A huge up arrow for Trey Anastasio.

This weekend’s ripple of national and specialty media coverage associated with the TTB/Anastasio/Bramhall album release brings a welcome, well-deserved focus on the musicians who performed it, and the Clapton album that inspired it.

It’s a pleasant respite from the desultory, depressing news headlines and media coverage to which we’ve become accustomed — especially here in DC.

In addition to the Layla promo, this new, detailed interview with Derek Trucks by Ryan Leas, for, is well worth reading.

Thanks to the musicians who performed this special set nearly two years ago, and thanks to the Lockn’ festival and its management — the only venue and festival where this could have possibly been conceived, developed and actually come together as it did.



Gordon Hensley

DC-based communications consultant; fmr gop consultant/speechwriter; live music enthusiast; insta: gordonhensleydc