Squaring off with Derek Obrien

Derek Obrien and Pete Monfre

Playing with Mr. Antone’s. Not intimidating at all.

For about six years now I’ve had the pleasure of performing with one Derek “Big House” Obrien, Austin’s undisputed king of the blues guitar and Gibson’s “Top Ten Best Guitarists You’ve Never Heard Of” – the man is a blues machine. He’s not fond of playing with other players so I consider it quite a privilege to regularly mix it up with Derek on stage.

He plays late fifties strats through old Deluxe Reverb and I play a 75 Les Paul via 1964 Deluxe – two different enough sounds to blend together beautiful – if you know what not to play.

One thing that strikes me about his sublime abilities is his accuracy. He says it’s happened but I’ve literally never heard him flub a note. It’s crazy. Crazy good. I think the way we make it work is by listening to each other and purposefully playing in different spaces.

Derek knows how to lean in -he uses that volume control and five way switch to max destruction for solos and sails over changes like a jazz whiz.

You might not have heard OF Derek but if you are a blues fan you have HEARD him. His list of credits stretches from all the Kings to Delbert McClinton, SRV, Jimmie Vaughan and too many to list. The Rolling Stones asked him to tour. Just sayin’. (Derek would never tell you this.)

In the new Book “Texas Food” the story is told of Stevie Ray asking Derek to join Double Trouble. Stevie’s manager killed the idea but you get the point. The guy is damn good.

Here’s my secret – I just play the opposite of whatever Derek is playing. Pretty easy job there and I love playing rhythm. If he winds up a solo high, I’ll start it low.

The two rigs sound great together (including Derek’s one of a kind “Titty Bingo” cabinet)

Sometimes I get so caught up in listening to Derek I forget what song we are playing.

Not kidding. Derek always remembers.

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