Taylor Gould is back with his second post here on LIVE MUSIC BLOG.com and he got some amazing shots from the Tedeschi Trucks Band show last night in Atlanta. Look for plenty more awesomeness from him and our Atlanta scene in the very near future! –Justin
Being a Derek Trucks fanatic since around 2003, when I had just started to pick up the bottleneck style myself, I’ve seen and heard a lot of Derek’s music and probably hold him to a higher standard than most of his fans. Of course, he’s never had a problem meeting these “standards”, as he’s simply one of the best slide guitarists out there today (and although many are afraid to say it…one of the best ever). Whether he’s performing with The Allman Brothers Band, Warren Haynes, or other collaborations I’ve seen in other settings, it always amazes me how Derek manages to express his unique and powerful talent in a perfectly appropriate way. It’s a rare trait that virtuoso musicians (and especially guitarists) don’t often possess.
Since Derek’s band has welcomed Susan Tedeschi (wife of Derek) to the stage many times before, their decision to join forces and pen some original music in early 2010 was no surprise. The results, however, have surpassed even the most optimistic expectations of their combined fan base. The 11-piece unit (featuring members from both Derek and Susan’s touring bands) released the roots and soul-heavy Revelator earlier this summer to much critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone proclaiming that “He [Trucks] and Tedeschi, a perfect vocal foil, now front the best Dixie-funk family band since Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett.”
The folks came out in droves to see the family band on a swampy Atlanta Saturday night at Chastain Amphitheatre, a beautiful, low rising bowl venue sunk in to a corner of metro Atlanta’s largest public park. Luckily for us, Chastain had the table setup going for the show, giving the venue’s atmosphere more of an evening picnic feel rather than a rock show, as you can bring in your own food and drinks (BYOB!), and most of the crowd sits around the 6-8 person tables – making for a classy, albeit tamer, affair.
Tedeschi, Trucks & Co. opened with the first three numbers from Revelator. The opener “Come See About Me” is a great example of the new possibilities with these 11 world-class musicians on stage together, intertwining Tedeschi’s soulful voice, soft lines from Derek’s slide, and the driving backbeat of the horn section with Kofi Burbridge’s Wurlitzer. The slightly slower tempo “Don’t Let Me Slide” brought in backing vocals from nearly the entire band to support a showcase of the lower end of Tedeschi’s vocal range, as well as a solo that may sound more familiar to longtime Trucks fans.
“Midnight in Harlem”, the first single off of Revelator, followed and was our first chance to see Trucks unleash. What started as a slower, soulful ballad steadily tapered toward a masterful display of the virtuosic slide guitar from the front man. That solo really helped me to grasp the power of this new group. While Derek’s been playing slide like he did on this night for years (literally 10-15 years, and he’s 32), his music under the Derek Trucks Band seemed to serve as more of a platform for his incredible work. Although never one to self-indulge in too much mindless wankery, at times watching DTB could feel like mostly passing time between guitar solos, because his guitar work was simply that much better than its context. With “Midnight in Harlem”, Derek’s solo really brings the song to another level (even more so live), rather than just existing at a level above the song. Its only possible thanks for the great songwriting and superb musicianship of the new group.
I was in the photo pit for the first three songs, getting a chance to be up close and scraping up my knees on concrete. After “Midnight”, I headed up towards the center of the venue to take in a better mix of the sound, while Trucks launched into a dark and heavy guitar riff that I couldn’t place. As the riff came to an end and Tedeschi started to sing Blind Faith’s “Presence of the Lord” the tune became obvious, one which Derek performed many times while touring with Eric Clapton over the past few years. Derek throws the riff from halfway into the song into the beginning, and then plays it throughout. Its an interesting take that gives the classic tune a much different feel.
With only 11 original songs under its name, the Tedeschi Trucks band turned to covers throughout the night, making some great selections that were all well-received by Chastain’s slightly older crowd. Shortly after “Presence” came Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” which gave Tedeschi and former lead vocalist Mike Mattison a chance to flex the pipes.
The band went back to some original material, including the slower “Ball & Chain” and the funky blues of “Learn How to Love”, a favorite of many of Trucks’ longtime fans. The unit returned to covers near the end of the set, picking up the pace with Sly Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song”, which was the perfect opportunity for vocalists Tedeschi and Mattison to play off each other. And its always interesting to hear Derek find his way into covers like this and “Uptight”, as neither particularly fit his worldly, roots style of original music. But the man is a musical chameleon, and always manages to find his sound, even within unfamiliar territory.
The openers, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, came out to join Tedeschi & Trucks for the encore, bringing the total number of musicians on stage to at least 20. The number seemed about right though for the wah’d out, funky closer “Love Has Something Else to Say”, where it was Tedeschi’s guitar, rather than Trucks’, leading the troupe of brass. Its not every day you see a high-heel working a wah-wah pedal the way Tedeschi does, and she really showed, if it wasn’t already obvious, that she’s as much a force to be reckoned with as Trucks as they traded licks throughout the encore.
All in all, the music that the Tedeschi Trucks Band are producing is certainly greater than simply the sum of these two great talents. There’s something for longtime Trucks fans and guitar aficionados, like myself, but also now a side of the band that can be enjoyed by anyone who’s ever liked roots, blues, or soul music. I’m looking forward to seeing this band continue to progress and make more incredible music. Definitely check them out if they’re in your area, and bring some uninitiated music-loving friends who I’m sure will walk away as new fans.
Check out the rest of my photos below: