Published on April 6th, 2013 | by Stratton Lawrence0
Review: Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Savannah Music Festival
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Savannah Music Festival, Johnny Mercer Theater
Life has been wearing on me lately. Long days at the computer; maybe sneak a run in; drink a beer or two; head to bed. Wake up; do it again. Staying with friends in Savannah this week, I worked 10 hours before the show on April 4, and that was an easy day.
My fiancé is just as busy, and she doesn’t stomach it as well. Wedding season wears quickly on a photographer. That’s not to mention trying to plan our own wedding. Where’s the love?
Before Tedeschi Trucks Band took the stage on Thursday night at the Johnny Mercer Theater in Savannah, the mood in row N, seats 1 and 2 was tense.
“Well I came to the city. I was running from the past. My heart was bleeding and it hurt my bones to laugh.”
“Midnight in Harlem” played the perfect opener for the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s first U.S. show of the spring (after a March run to Australia and Singapore). The yelps of an excitable crowd were immediately soothed.
Guitarist Derek Trucks set the tone. He doesn’t show off. With a slide, he’s the best and we know it, so there’s no need to rush things, easing his way slowly up his Gibson SG’s neck.
His wife, singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi, looked over and kicked off the next song, “Don’t Let Me Slide,” with that poignant first line so full of hope: “You make me want to wake up in the morning.” Trucks did all the sliding for her, unleashing his first explosive solo. Already, people were leaping out of their seats uncontrollably, hands in the air.
This band makes me understand why people do that same thing in church. They take us to the heavens. The backdrop — a bright orange sun over flowing human forms, arms outstretched — perfectly matched the now exuberant mood of the audience
“I’m so lucky,” Tedeschi continued. “My pride and joy is my ball and chain.” It’s one big love fest here on this cool April night in Savannah, and by the time Kofi Burbridge sailed away on the keyboards during “Bound for Glory,” the weary hours at the computer and stress-induced bitterness were forgotten.
OUT OF SIGHT
Stevie Wonder is among an elite club of humans. Among the music of the world truly meant to be danced to, he is paramount.
Tedeschi picked the right time to call on him, dropping into “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” just when the dancing-inclined needed a final assurance that from here on, we would be on our feet for this concert, despite the proper, Spoleto-esque vibe of the Savannah Music Festival.
The dual drummers soon commanded our full attention, reminding us why all of the world’s best bands have two drummers. Tedeschi emerged and softly led into “Angel from Montgomery,” a song John Prine would have written with her in mind had she been alive in 1971 (apologies to Bonnie Raitt). That segued into “Sugaree” as Trucks returned, leading Tedeschi to jokingly credit “Jerry Garcia” on the guitar once they wound it down. To close the show, they summoned Elmore James and Stevie Ray Vaughan with a ripping take on “The Sky is Crying.”
CLEAN OUT OF SIGHT
The crowd swooned. We danced in the aisles. Those of us from Charleston tried not to be jealous that we get opera each May while Savannah quietly pulls in Del McCroury, J.D. Crowe, Charles Bradley, Dr. John, Jerry Douglas, Otis Taylor, Tab Benoit, Joy Kills Sorrow, the Old Crow Medicine Show and Trucks and Tedeschi over a two-week period. Not that I’m complaining about Spoleto, which has provided many of the best concerts I’ve experienced in Charleston (and the Johnny Mercer Theater, while spacious yet intimate, has nothing on the Cistern). But for folks who attend Spoleto for the music, well, there’s something big happening right down the road that they may be overlooking.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band played their first-ever show at the Savannah Music Festival in 2010. A few years later, in just a little over two hours and when I needed it most, they reminded me why I love live music, why I love my fiancé, and why every day is a reason to be joyful.
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