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  • Posted January, 2017

    tedeschi trucks band 001 photo creditduo general 3For the uninformed, the Tedeschi Trucks band is one of the best blues rock jam bands touring the planet today. You can take that to the bank so just go right ahead and buy their three studio albums (Revelator, Made Up Mind, and Let Me Get By) and their live album (Everybody’s Talkin’).

    For a little background, the band is led by husband and wife team, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, and are backed by ten (originally eight but things have a way of growing in a band like this) of the best musicians jamming today. Derek was considered a child prodigy on the guitar not long after buying his first six string when he was seven years old.

    In the years that followed, Trucks made a name for himself with his own band as well as playing with the likes of Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy (when Derek was thirteen), Stephen Stills, Bob Dylan, and many others. His reputation also led to repeated guest spots in the Allman Brothers band, who his uncle, Butch, co-founded. The guest spot ultimately led to a permanent position from 1999 until the band split in late 2014.

    Susan Tedeschi is an amazing blues guitarist in her own right and is the primary lead vocalist in the Tedeschi Trucks Band.  If you haven’t heard her sing and play ‘Midnight In Harlem’, you’re missing out on a real treat.

    But I digress.

    Susan is a Berkley grad and her talents led her to opening gigs with icons like The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Allman Brothers, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, John Mellencamp, and many others. As the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Derek, Susan, and the band have delighted audiences all over the world and even at the White House.  Along the way, they’re building an ever-growing fan base that is sure to serve them well in the years to come.

    I recently chatted by phone with Derek just before the band performed their last of three shows at Boston’s Orpheum Theater. I wanted to talk about their latest CD, Let Me Get By, and their current tour. The status of the latter is what I first asked him about.

    “It’s been good, you know? Tonight’s our last show of the year. We’ve been hittin’ it hard this year. It’s been a great year but it’s been pretty intense. We’re pretty excited – maybe go out with a bang tonight.”

    When I followed up with asking how this tour was different from past tours, Derek said, “The one we’re on right now is three shows in Boston at the Orpheum. I feel like the last six months – really, in some ways, since we put out this last record – the band’s just in a better place musically, personally. I think we’re in a really healthy spot at the moment. Every tour seems to get a little better. There’s been one or two runs this year that we played our best stuff to date. I feel like we’re on the right track.”

    tedeschi trucks band 002Shows from bands like the Tedeschi Trucks Band tend to be very fluid, spontaneous, and (obviously) improvisational. Still, I asked Trucks what fans could expect from this run of shows, including the upcoming visit to Knoxville on January 26.

    “You know, we really try to keep the material kind of flowing through the band. We really don’t know until we get out. Before we head out on the next run we’ll have a little rehearsal. Try to add some new tunes; try to write some tunes on this little break that’s coming up. But, you know, it’s a pretty healthy mix of all of the records we’ve made and just a pile of tunes that we’ve played, whether they’re covers or whatever from over the years; stuff from our old bands. It’s a pretty constantly changing set list.  that we have.

    “We just did the Beacon Theatre not too long ago and I think over the course of six shows we did close to seventy tunes – something like that. We try to keep ‘em movin’.”

    Any chance of those shows being recorded for future release?

    “We record all of our shows – at least the last six months or so. Yeah, we’re working on a DVD from our Oakland shows at the Fox Theater. We’re gettin’ close to that. (We’ll) Do a live record, too. I’m thinking about doing a Beacon Theatre live record somewhere down the road.”

    The band’s new CD, Let Me Get By, is a phenomenal body of work – probably their best yet. I wondered how much of the new album would be performed during this tour.

    “We play most of those tunes – at least two or three of those tunes a night but . Like I was saying, it does shift quite a bit from show to show. Those tunes have kind of taken on a life of their own. They’ve been a lot of fun to play.”

    Obviously proud of – and excited about – Let Me Get By, Derek continued about the disc.

    “You know, I do think that record was a turning point for the band. It was all done in-house. We wrote all the tunes as a group. It was a great moment for the band and I feel like we got better, musically, coming out of making that record. So, it was a pretty big turning point for us. I kinda feel like we’re ready to get back in and hit another one. WI do think that we’ll look back on that record as being kind of when the band became realized.

    “There’s a lot of stuff on the record that I still enjoy listening to. I don’t put on our records and listen often, but I do go back – we’re mixing a live record now and I go back and listen to the album just to check in on it to see how the mixes hold up. Something feels really natural, to be honest about it.”

    As for which song he would point people to as the calling card for the entire CD, Trucks said:

    “Let’s see. There’s a few that I can say that we enjoy playing a lot right now. ‘I Want More’ and ‘Let Me Get By’. I loved recording the tune, ‘Hear Me’. We really haven’t played that one live yet. For some reason, those three seem to stick out.”

    Artists are always nervous about what their fans’ reception to a new project is going to be. I asked Trucks what fan reaction has been like for the new material.

    “I think that record and, really, this year there’s been a big wave. We can feel it. You look out in the crowd when you play some of those tunes you can tell that people know the music. They know the record. We’ve had that a little bit in the past, but I feel that everything kind of ratcheted up a little bit. I think Iit’s the most well received of anything we’ve done as a band.”

    “I think the fact that we have our own studio and this was the first record we did tedeschi trucks band 003 photo credit tedeschi trucks band band general use 1everything on our own. We were between record labels. It’s just all in-house. From top to bottom we just did it the way we wanted to do it. That’s a rare thing. You don’t get that chance very often. We’re somehow avoiding being micro-managed.” 

    The sign of a great album or performance is when a band or artist leaves his fans craving for more. That’s how I feel after devouring Let Me Get By so I asked if there were already other albums in the works. 

    “Yeah, we have a live record that’s close. We’re probably a few days away from finishing that. That’ll be next and, then we’re heading back into the studio sometime on this next break to start writing and digging in on a new record. But that will probably be a little further down the road.” But there’s definitely a live record that’s pretty much finished.”

    As for what’s on the band’s radar for the next year to five years, Derek says:

    “Next year, we’ll probably play a few less shows than we did this year, but we’re still going to be hitting it hard. We’ll have a live record and then the DVD coming out. With a band this big, you have to tour. Five years out, who knows? I feel like this band is in a really healthy place. I can see it steadily growing – musically growing and charging down the road. If it’s still inspired and music keeps rollin’, I see no reason to change course.

    Wrapping up our chat, I asked Derek Trucks how he hopes to be remembered and what he hopes his legacy is. Like most musicians, it’s about the music.

    “You know, I think everything that I’ve done up to this point and with this band, I think that I just want people to appreciate the integrity. WI feel that we’ve never pandered. I hope that it never gets cynical – that we never get out there and are just playing and going through the motions. AI think that as long as you keep it honest and you try to tell your story and dig deep and do your thing, I’m not too concerned with how it’s perceived. But I do hope that, at least, that sentiment will ring true.”

    Keep up with the Tedeschi Trucks Band atwww.tedeschitrucksband.com and complete your personal library of their work by clicking on any of the widgets, below.

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  • Posted January 2019

     

    TedeschiTrucksBand DerekSOLO Credit Stuart LevinePhoto by Stuart LevineAs I’ve said before, it’s always a compliment and an honor when an artist agrees to sit with me for an interview more than one time. Such is the case with legendary guitarist, Derek Trucks, of the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

    For those who may not be familiar with Derek, the short version of his story is: Considered a prodigy at a very young age, he managed to play alongside the great Buddy Guy before he was thirteen. He formed his self-named band when he was fifteen and by the time he was twenty, he had played with such icons as Stephen Stills, Bob Dylan, and Joe Walsh. His late uncle was the legendary Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band which played a bit of a role in Derek becoming a permanent member of that band at the young age of twenty. At the age of 27, he worked with Eric Clapton and his LP, The Road To Escondido. He married the lovely and immensely talented Susan Tedeschi and formed the twelve-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band which will be playing at the Tennessee Theatre on January 22nd and at Chattanooga’s Soldiers and Sailors Auditorium on the 23rd.

    It had been right at two years since I last spoke with Trucks so, when I called him at his Florida home, I asked what all has happened since we last spoke.

    “Good to talk to you, again! It’s been a long, crazy two years, man! The live record was a great highwater mark for the EverythingKnoxvilleLogoEditedband. I think it’s been a long two years for the planet but personally and as a band there’s been a lot of losses. It’s been a tough go on some levels. I feel that everything’s in a good place as a group, you know? We just finished a new record and just charging down the road, trying to keep the flame lit.”

    I asked Derek how have the losses of Gregg and Butch affected his music, performing, and view of life.

    “Those guys and Colonel Bruce Hampton – who was, basically, a family member and a mentor in a lot of ways – those things happened all bunched up together. Then, not long after that, we almost lost Kofi (Burbridge), our keyboard player, who I’ve been with for eighteen years. He’s still with us and crushing it but it was touch and go there for a minute.

    “That stuff – it certainly changes your outlook on things and, in some ways, it makes you double-down on what you’re doing – especially with Colonel and Butch and Gregg – it makes you want to keep that music going and keep it alive. There’s no time to waste. It makes you think of those things a little differently. There’s a lot of reflection when that stuff happens. It’s been a few years of that in a lot of ways. I think the record we just made is very much in that headspace. But, you gotta carry on. You gotta keep rolling and that’s what we do.”

    When we last spoke, one of Susan and Derek’s kids was a teenager. Now, both are so I asked how that is messing with his mind.

    “Yeah, two kids in high school – that’s something! They’re really good kids! We’re really fortunate that way. They’ll test you. Ha! Ha! Those and having a twelve piece band – that’ll test ya, too!”

    And which is worse?

    “It depends on the week, I will say. This week, our kids are much easier! Ha! Ha!”

    What has been the reception to the live album, Live From The Fox Oakland, released shortly after our last chat?TedeschiTrucksBand DUO Credit Stuart LevinePhoto by Stuart Levine

    “You know, it was really good, man! Those are great shows that we had on that tour and, then, the night that we captured was really strong. But, you know, this day and age, record releases – it’s a little different than it was 15-20 years ago. It doesn’t have as big of a splash in a lot of ways. But we’re a touring band. That’s what we do. You release records that kind of mark where you are in time. I love going into the studio and spending that time and energy mixing a record or making a record. I think it’s a huge part of the growth of the band. Hearing the band back makes you appreciate certain things. It makes you want to re-imagine certain things. I love those moments when you’re kind of checkin’ in. And, a live record like that does turn people on to what the band sounds like now when we’re hittin’ the road. So, you do get to connect with people that you’ve had a chance to see the group.”

    Then, concluding his thoughts about the live record, Derek said:

    “But it was a really strong night that we captured so the reception – it was positive.”

    Just before this new tour launches, the TTB has been asked to perform at a very special gig in Nashville. I asked Trucks to tell me about it.

    TedeschiTrucksBand BAND Credit Stuart Levine GeneralUse2Photo by Stuart Levine“Speakin’ of the Willie (Nelson) show? Yeah! Yeah! Sue’s known Willie for quite a while now and I’ve gotten to know him over the last decade or so. We just did some dates on Willie’s ‘Outlaw’ tour. Got to hang with him a bunch and play with him. Willie’s the man! He’s just an awesome human being. His family is amazing. He sounds so good right now. His voice is unbelievable. His phrasing.

    “He played this instrumental - this Django Reinhardt tune called ‘Nuages’. It was one of the best guitar sounds and performances I’d heard in just ages. It was so refreshing! But that’s all to say that when they reached out to us and asked us to be a part of a Willie birthday show, we just said, ‘Of course!’. Ha! Ha! Even though our schedule is crazy and there’s not a lot of free time and when there is down time you want to preserve it. But when Willie calls, you just go!”

    What can fans expect from the Tedeschi Trucks Band shows on this tour?

    “It’s hard to know between now and then. Next year we’ll have the new record coming out. We’ll probably be digging into some of that stuff. There’s a 100+ tunes that we kinda pull from. So, on any given night you just never really know. The band’s been feeling really good that last few years. It’s a powerful sound that comes off the stage. Susan – she’s singing and playing as good as I’ve ever heard her. I think if you start there, you’re in pretty good shape.”

    Any changes to the band’s line-up?

    “Over the year there’s been two or three changes in the line-up. But it’s been pretty consistent the last handful of years. For a twelve piece band I think it’s miraculous that it’s as consistent as it is. I love it. That’s the way we want to do it. The core of the band will be consistent. I feel like there’s been people who have been with us for fifteen, twenty years. That’s the thing.”

    Since Derek touched on it a couple of times, I asked him about their soon-to-be-released album.

    “You know, today I got a test pressing in the mail of the vinyl. We’re on the home-stretch. Making sure the vinyl sounds as good as master that we sent them. Hopefully, better. Sometimes that happens! I think it’s a really honest record. There’s some really gorgeous tunes on the album. I think there’s a few songs and a few moments that are gonna, I think, stand up TedeschiTrucksBand DerekSOLO Credit Stuart LevinePhoto by Stuart Levinewith anything we’ve done to date. There’s a few ‘Sue vocals’ on the record that are just amazing. The band sounds great. We recorded this one all analog. Two-inch tape. We never done that before. That was a process. We did it at our own studio so when something breaks, you gotta figure out how to fix it! It was all hands on deck! Our engineer, Bobby Tis, and his dad are just bad-asses and they were instrumental in making it go. I’m really proud of it. It’s a really warm and really great sounding record.”

    “It’s just a better sound. I mean, it really is. It’s a different process and if you only know how to make records by tapping on a laptop or chopping tunes up and taking a verse from here and whatever – you can’t necessarily do it the same way on analog. I mean, you can chop tape up and you can edit on tape but you better know what you’re doing! Ha! Ha! It’s a lost art, in some ways. I mean, there are still ‘keepers of the flame’ and I think it’s important. But if you’ve made records both ways, it just feels better on tape. I think going forward, every record we make with this band – that will be a heavy consideration. We always thought about it up ‘til now. We didn’t have a tape machine in the studio. We got an old Studer spent a few good Tedeschi Trucks Band credit TabWintersPhoto by Tab Wintersmonths getting’ her up to speed and a lot of blindfold tests, making sure the sound was what we wanted; that we weren’t romanticizing it. But when you get the master back after it hasn’t touched anything digital, it sure is a sound.”

    And what’s on the band’s radar for the next year or so?

    “It’s a busy year for us. We’re releasing a record early next year. We’re hittin’ the road behind it. I think we’re in Europe for a month or so. Then Japan for a bit. We have a summer tour lined up. We’ll be chopping a lot of wood. Ha! Ha! We’ll be working!”
    You can catch all the latest happenings about the Tedeschi Trucks Band at their website, TedeschiTrucksBand.com.

     

  • Tedeschi Trucks Band

    January 25, 2015

    Tennessee Theater

    Knoxville, Tennessee

     tedeschi trucks knoxville0001Photo by Randy PattersonUntil now, I’ve never seen the Tedeschi Trucks Band in concert. After seeing them, I feel really, really stupid to have not seen them until now. Their show at the beautiful and historic Tennessee Theater in downtown Knoxville was one for the record books.

    WOW!

    Talk about a band that totally blew me away!  What an amazing husband/wife team surrounded by world class musicians. Tight. Super tight. This band can show other jam bands how to take care of business and get ‘er done.

    Hitting the stage after a tremendous performance by the opening act, The Greyhounds, Tedeschi Trucks brought the enthusiastic, sold out Knoxville crowd to their feet with “Keep On Growing.” From there on, it was a phenomenal slide guitar rock ‘n roll blues-fest.

    Susan’s voice was bang on outstanding as was her guitar playing. Derek’s handling of his SG was jaw-dropping outrageous. I didn’t want any of it to end.  

    Tunes that stole the evening were:

    Made Up Mind: People were dancing in their seats and in the aisles during this song. Derek’s slide solo blazed and scorched, driving the crowd wild.

    All That I Need: Smooth, fluid, I have no idea how long they played that song but they could’ve played it for hours and it wouldn’t have been long enough. This is a song you want to drive on the interstate to, with your player set on endless repeat. 

    Midnight In Harlem: One of my favorite TTB tunes, Susan’s performance of this tune during this show absolutely melted my heart. This song gets into your heart and DNA, to remain forever. When you hear it live, it seals the deal.

     

    If you haven’t ever caught a Tedeschi Trucks Band show, you need to. You’ll absolutely love them and become a fan for life . . . if you’re not already one.

  • Warren Haynes

    Bijou Theatre – Knoxville, Tennessee

    February 28, 2016

     

    Photo by Randy Patterson

         

    Let me say right from the git go that if you’ve never seen Warren Haynes in concert, you’ve been missing out on a phenomenal musical treat. That was certainly what the sell out crowd at Knoxville’s historic, intimate and beautiful Bijou Theatre experienced last night.

    From his show opener (Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”) to the Allman Brothers’ “Jessica” for the encore, Haynes had the exuberant crowd eating out of his legendary nimble fingered hands.

    Admittedly, while I’ve heard lots of Warren’s work over the years, this was my first time seeing the legendary guitarist

         

    Photo by Randy Patterson

    live. I was mesmerized by his precision and fluidity of movement along the neck of the guitar. Speed and range, both, were taken to their limits.  

    As for his Ashes & Dust band (the name taken from his last CD), they were tight and smooth as a well oiled machine. Each and every musician were fascinating to watch them perform their craft to the highest levels of excellence – a compliment to their leader, for sure.

    While much of the set list was from Haynes’ Ashes & Dust CD, he pleased the crowd with tunes from his other body of work, as well. All of which, of course, resonated beautifully in the Bijou.

    Again, if you’ve never caught Warren Haynes live, you need to do so. You’ll never want to miss a show once you do.