Slide guitar savant Trucks balances fatherhood, three bands and marriage to blues songstress Susan Tedeschi.

Derek Trucks turns 30 in June, but it already seems like he’s lived and played a full musician’s lifetime.

He has carved out a career with his own band and as a member of the Allman Brothers Band, landed high-profile sideman slots with the likes of Eric Clapton, been able to jam with many of his musical heroes and established himself as one of the greatest (and sonically recognizable) slide guitarists on the planet.

Trucks doesn’t exactly slow down. He and wife Susan Tedeschi parent two kids, manage commitments to four bands between them and even have a joint project, Soul Stew Revival, that draws on their respective talents and groups.

In fact, the only reason Trucks isn’t out playing more shows behind the Derek Trucks Band’s brand new "Already Free'' album is that it’s March, and March means the Allman Brothers set up shop at New York’s Beacon Theater.

I caught up with Trucks by phone in the middle of the Beacon run, the morning after his friend and employer Eric Clapton finally joined the Allmans onstage at the Beacon after years of speculation that he’d turn up.

The Allmans have made the Beacon run extra special this year: It’s the band’s 40th anniversary, and in dedicating the shows to Duane Allman, the band has invited a number of special guests to join the celebration. Buddy Guy, Bonnie Bramlett, Clapton, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winter and members of Phish, Los Lobos and King Curtis’ Kingpins have been some of the high profile sit-ins.

Of course, it’s hardly the only thing Trucks has on the calendar this year. "Already Free,'' released in January and recorded in Trucks’ new home studio, picks up where 2006’s "Songlines'' left off: intensely realized music in a variety of genres, from Indian classical to Delta blues, both original pieces and covered tracks.

Q: Obviously, you’ve played with Eric Clapton before, but what did it feel like to finally get him up there with the Brothers?

A: Oh, it was great. Eric has had a long history with the members of the Allmans, and I think there was a lot of pent-up energy on both sides to make that happen. It finally came together.

Q: You guys did five songs from "Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs'' – "Key to the Highway,'' "Little Wing,'' "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad,'' "Anyday'' and "Layla'' – but also "Dreams,'' from the Allmans catalog. How did you and Eric choose what songs you were going to do?

A: Well, the Dominos stuff was a no-brainer given the Duane connection, and then we wanted Eric to be in the Allmans’ element and do a few Allmans tunes as well. Me and (fellow guitarist) Warren (Haynes) came to the same conclusion, and we gave him a list of Allmans songs we suggested and let him pick. He’s been really gracious about everything and went out of his way to be here.

Q: (Allman Brothers drummer) Butch Trucks told me recently that the Allmans have asked you and Warren to give them more time than ever this year – the 40th anniversary year means a longer-than-usual summer tour. But you have a new record out and are keeping busy with any number of additional projects. Where’s everything at?

A: You know, it was tough. “Already Free” came out, and it’s doing better than anything we’ve been a part of before. I wanted to put a lot of focus into it, which is what we’re still doing. But this being the 40th anniversary, Gregg and Butch came to me and Warren and asked if we’d put a little extra time aside. Between the anniversary and the Duane tribute, we really had to.

Q: How would you describe “Already Free” relative to your previous Derek Trucks Band albums?

A: I think the maturing process is visible there, and also the feeling we got from building a studio and doing it ourselves. A lot’s happened for me since “Songlines,” including being on the road with Eric’s band and the cast of musicians and songwriting. Any time you’re spending time with musicians of that caliber, you’re learning. I think this sound is a representation of all our current influences.

Q: How did you go about choosing material? You have some of your own stuff and, as usual, a collection of very unique variations on cover songs like Bob Dylan’s “Down in the Flood.”

A: That was the last song we recorded, and it was almost an afterthought – maybe we needed something in that realm? It was pretty spur of the moment, and I remember thinking before we cut the tune, it’s a pretty timely song title in light of Katrina.

Q: Tell me about the new studio.

A: It started as just a brainstorm, really. I was thinking of ways to be home more, and it really started as, well, maybe I’ll just build a rehearsal room on the property. Doing it as a rehearsal room morphed into, maybe we’ll make it a low-end recording studio, which morphed into, hey, the guitar tech in our band, his dad was chief engineer at Electric Ladyland studios for 10 years. He took blueprints of the original room and sized it to a world-class recording studio, and from there everything fell into place. 

... I think having it there puts a healthy pressure on me and Susan to keep grinding, working and producing. I don’t want to have this great studio out there and just hack away at it. It makes you play to a certain level – you made this, and you want it to really work for you – where you’re at the top of your game. You’re not worrying how much it costs an hour when you’re sitting there playing either, and you’re also at home with the kids.

Q: Are the kids playing music yet?

A: Ha, a little, but my son’s (Charlie Kahlil, 6) on a baseball team and that’s kind of what he’s into.

Q: You and Susan also have the Soul Stew Revival, a combined band. Any more plans for that this year?

A: This year I don’t think it’s in the cards, at least not until the very end of the year. We usually do New Year’s in Atlanta. But I hope to spend part of next year recording an album for that project.

Q: Do you ever get fried from all you have going on? How do you avoid burnout?

A: ... You kind of prepare yourself and get no surprises. I mean, I came from a household where my dad was a roofer, up at 5:30 every day to make ends meet, and that puts it in perspective.
Having multiple bands also prevents you from getting burned out. ... You’re learning different peoples’ material, so it’s a different mental exercise. All this doesn’t feel like work at all. It might be physically tiring, but like reading – it’s intellectually stimulating.

Q: You’re a voracious reader, if I remember correctly. What are you reading these days?

A: The book I’m in the middle of is “The Book of Dead Philosophers.” It goes through about 200 or so philosophers and their views on death and how they, themselves, ended up. Some of them go out in a pretty heroic day, but some it’s like, all the (expletive) they talked for 50 years goes right out the window right before they die. I don’t know, man, it’s pretty good for an airport book.

Q: Guess it’s either that or the new John Grisham, right?

A: Absolutely. Or People (magazine). I can’t be doing that.

The Patriot Ledger