One of the most beautiful things about music is its ability to connect to us on so many levels. There is the connection between the audience and the musicians; we love them, we hate them, we worship them, we envy them, we listen to them and we critique them. There is the connection between the musicians on stage as they smile at each other, follow and lead the jam getting lost in the music as we do. There is a connection to the music through emotions, as the songs make us weep, laugh, get angry, get hyper or sullen. Physically, we dance to the grooves and our connection to the venue and our fellow audience members becomes established as we release our energy onto them. Finally, the better the group is, the harder, deeper and more intense the connections prove to be.
The creation of the Tedeschi/Trucks Band connects very deeply with me on all those levels. Derek Trucks is my favorite guitarist alive. When he takes a solo, I many times lose my shit. He is still the only guitarist who can make me cry in the middle of a rock song, any song for that matter. Yes, we all know I cry freely when music touches me but no one can get me going as quickly as Derek can.
Susan Tedeschi is hands down my favorite singer in our scene. When I broke off my engagement a few years ago, her music/voice played an intense part in my healing process. Specifically, go check out her cover of Bob Dylan’s “Baby, Don’t Think Twice.” Tell me you don’t LOVE that song!
I was privileged enough to meet them both on their tour bus at Mountain Jam last year and was able to yet again, build another connection as I thanked them for their music, spoke with them about NY living and just hung with them as “regular” people, not the famous musicians I had come to love and worship after finding their talent in 2000.
At the end of the day, the beauty of this group lies in its greatest connection: LOVE. Love is the deepest connection two people can have. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks are married. A connection so great and built on love’s foundation. As well, Derek and Susan chose their line-up wisely, picking from musicians they themselves love and whose talent they feel is outstanding. When you mix love and music you get The Tedeschi/Trucks Band!
The Tedeschi/Trucks Band
Derek Trucks – Guitar
Susan Tedeschi – Guitar & Vocals
Oteil Burbridge – Bass
Kofi Burbridge – Keys & Flute
Tyler Greenwell – Drums
JJ Johnson – Drums
Mike Mattison – Backing Vocals
Mark Rivers – Backing Vocals
Maurice Brown – Trumpet
Kebbi (?)- Saxophone
Unknown – Trombone
The Highline Ballroom was packed! Not surprisingly, the performance had sold out within days of tickets going on sale. The venue withheld the tickets for pick up at the club box office to deter ticket reselling, something I hadn’t dealt with before. There was no opening band and the band took to the stage a little after 8pm to a crazy excited audience.
I’d say that 75% of the audience were 40+ yr old men who needed a fix of their bro-crush from The Allman Brothers Band. Personally, I wondered how many of these men truly cared about anyone else on stage. Certainly, The Allman Brother’s fans noticed the amazing Oteil Burbridge on stage. I know I did. What a line up. Oteil’s brother, Kofi, took his rightful place behind the keyboard.
As all Derek and Susan projects, Mike Mattison was on backup vocals. Then, there was Mark Rivers, someone who I had never heard of before and I can’t seem to find any information on. Send me a link if you find something! Their voices blended seamlessly with Susan’s but I didn’t really get a full effect from them closer to the end of the performance.
Tyler Greenwell, an alumni of the school of Colonel Bruce Hampton, made himself known on stage throughout the whole night with his thick drumming. Great musicality. JJ Johnson, the second drummer on stage, was a new name to my ears. His latest venture has been touring as John Mayer’s drummer. I’ve always loved John Mayer’s songwriting and lyrics but it stops with his music. Let’s hope JJ Johnson isn’t as much as a douche as Mr. Mayer like to portray himself. I am sure he isn’t because only great karma gets you a post within the band of one of these magnificent musicians!
The horn section was good. I want to say out of this world but I couldn’t really feel anything from two out of the three horn players. Sadly, I can’t find any mention of the names of the horn section either and the only person I recognized on stage was Maurice Brown on trumpet. Maurice was the horn player who throw it down until the encore. He was the stand out of the horn section as he ripped open his solo on Uptight (video below), as he twirled his trumpet to the beat like a cowboy does a gun and how he got down dancing completely into the groove when the music moved him. He is a pleasure to watch just like Oteil. Great stage presence. Each of the musicians on stage were connected to Derek and Susan in some way but I believe Maurice Brown is the only member not to have played with them before.
Kicking the set off with the instrumental Five Minute Rule, the entire 11-piece ensemble warmed up their instruments and busted out a bit of their chops. They were just itching to release their music upon us. They covered epically jamming covers like The Meter’s funky Just Kissed My Baby and Jimi Hendrix’s Manic Depression with Oteil on vocals. At a point in the song, the members on stage back off as Kofi and Oteil were being spotlighted. My eyes followed Derek and Susan as they sat down on some speakers. I watched Susan sit down, put her hand on her husband’s leg and smiled deeply into his eyes and mouthed “Hi!” It was so touching. During the drummer focus at the end of Stevie Wonder’s Uptight (Outta Sight), both drummers gave us a taste of their talent. Combined, we were delivered a sense of their sound and sensitivity.
The group sang a number of songs from their new album, Revolver. The soulful Love Has Something Else To Say was beautiful. As well, The Derek Trucks Band cover, Midnight in Harlem resonated through the venue as Susan’s emotive vocals carried it away.
Sly Stone’s Simple Song brought the absolute heat. Susan Tedeschi and Mike Mattison’s vocals was sultry and possessive of the energy in the room. Mattison’s standing out more for this one, however. Kofi Burbridge brought it up with the keys. Kofi just sounds better every time I hear him. Sadly, I don’t think I ever heard the flute. Maurice Brown took the best solo of the night from the horn players yet again, destroying the funky rock song with a huge jazz0filled solo. And behind it all, Oteil’s bass line could be heard solid and full of get down funky. They killed this song!!!
The set ended with Herbie Hancock’s Space Captain. Might have been the greatest, most upbeat song of the night!! The spotlight was on Kofi Burbridge as he busted out the intro on keys and was showcased throughout the song in his solos. Susan’s vocals filled in the rest and the drummers made themselves known. But it wasn’t until Derek Trucks ripped us his solo that I really lost it, weeping openly a few measures in. Derek Trucks shred our faces off!! Oteil followed me and went, well, nuts. bouncing all over the stage and dancing with his bass!! The man is brilliant. I lost my shit in the second row as I saw the musicians on stage putting on their rager faces and feeling Derek as well. Derek’s ever composed, precise, intense playing makes him one of the world’s greatest guitarist and a master at the slide. Susan threw her hands up in praise toward him and at that moment Highline Ballroom was Church and Derek Trucks was God!!
With the ending of such a killer performance they could have gone out on that note and still gotten rave reviews. KILLER ending to a set but the audience wanted more!! Before the rest of the band came back to the stage, Kebbi on saxophone player began to rage. Kebbi ripped right into a hyper jazz solo which eventually was supplemented by JJ Johnson on drums. And yes, he was great! I also gotta say the saxophonist killed that part of the show so I take back what I said about Maurice owning the horn section all night. Eventually, everyone rejoined and the danceable funky blues song, Bound For Glory, the only song from their new album that is available for download, was the last song played.
The Tedeschi/Trucks band is absolutely brilliant. Having the past connections of playing with each other behind them, they are way past the rehearsal stage in their third show. With musicians with never ending talent and an amazing set list, the night’s performance was a solid treat for the middle of the week. Listening to this entire set and watching Derek Trucks, I realized that I hadn’t seen him so spirited in a long, LONG time. His smile was evident throughout the night as was his Rager face! Susan Tedeschi got me so into the mood that it brought tears to my eyes. I hadn’t felt this touched by music in a long, long time.
I thought the show/band was great — but with that much talent up there, how could they not be? If I had a criticism, it’s that the show was too short… we want more! ~ Jonathon A.
Five Minute Rule>
Love Has Something Else To Say
Midnight In Harlem
Just Kissed My Baby
Till You Remember
Sing A Simple Song
That Did It
Manic Depression (Oteil vocal)
Kebbi & JJ jam>
Bound For Glory