Man, I thought that I was a road warrior. And then along comes the Tedeschi Trucks Band (TTB), who have spent more than 200 days on the road for each of the past 5 years. Grueling! But for the discerning rock fan who loves a finely-tuned, heavily rehearsed and talented band with lots of live gigs under their belts, it’s a great thing.
For the third straight year, I caught TTB live, this time at the Warner Theater in Washington, DC. Before I get to the band, let me say that the Warner is beautiful, has great acoustics, and sits right in the heart of the Nation’s Capital. It even has decent space in the rows, something missing from, say, the Tower Theater in Philly. Check out these photos of the venue – nice, right?
OK, back to TTB. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are a 12 piece band led by the husband and wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. The band plays Americana – rock, blues, soul, and even gospel – and truly appeals to those who like blues-driven rock of the variety made famous by the Allman Brothers Band. Trucks is the nephew of the late Butch Trucks, one of the original drummers from the ABB, and Derek himself played with later versions of ABB. He is a slide guitar prodigy, and can pull off some amazing lead jams that leave the crowd cheering and hollering. And one interesting fact – he uses the same guitar all night long. That isn’t always the case with guitar heroes, some of whom have quivers that require their own stand-alone storage unit.
Susan is no slouch with the guitar either, and ripped into some awesome lead riffs on Saturday night. But her stage presence (she is front and center for a reason) and her singing voice, which is full of power and soul, makes the band stand out from others. And check out how her show wardrobe – a nice dress! These two are a musical combination that is hard to beat.
But the band is much more than Susan and Derek. Like ABB, they have a two-drummer lineup that is just fantastic. Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson play off of each other, provide a driving beat, and add power and presence that is additive but not overwhelming to the rest of the band. And the rest of the band features a solid horn section, keyboards and other talented backup/lead singers. It is a remarkably diverse group of gifted musicians who have played together a long time.
Saturday was the birthday of the late Beatle, George Harrison, and TTB played homage by covering “Within You, Without You,” “Wah Wah,” and “Something.” And they weren’t the only covers played. TTB also played tunes by the Staples Singers, Derek and the Dominoes, Leonard Cohen, Elmore James, Miles Davis, Blind Willie McTell, Sleepy John Estes, Rahsean Roland Kirk, Billy Taylor, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, and Leon Russell. Whew! And they also threw in about 10 of their own songs. The two sets covered a broad swath of American artists, but all the tunes got the TTB treatment, and came out as a cool mix of the original and the new.
The crowd was into it right from the start. This was the third sell-out in a row at the Warner, and it was Saturday night. We stood for most of the show, danced in the rows, and jammed along with everyone else. By the end, I was ragged out and ready to roll on back to the hotel. The last encore song was a jam marathon which, while entertaining at times, was also wearing on my tired dogs. Nonetheless, I was satisfied and happy to have made the journey down I-95.
Alright, I have a lot of pictures. We had good seats about 10 rows back, but I still managed to slide up to the front for a couple of better close-ups. I do that for you, you know that, right? I hope you enjoy. Sorry that the keys and bass aren’t in any of the shots – we were a bit off to the side, and I couldn’t see them for much of the show.
OK, It’s time to sign off. I have lots more stuff in store for you, some of which is rock related, but some of which is not. I’ve got another show coming up soon, and I’ll write it up for your reading pleasure. In the meantime, put on your sailin’ shoes and everyone will start to cheer. See ya.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.