Published on January 19th, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Review: The Tedeschi Trucks Band Vibe Well at the PAC
Tedeschi Trucks Band
North Charleston Performing Art’s Center
The Florida-based, 11-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band packed the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Friday night, playing in support of their latest album Made Up Mind. Lead slide guitarist Derek Trucks and his wife, singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi, led their solid ensemble through a dynamic set of bluesy Southern rock, soul ballads, and choice renditions.
The lineup featured keys man Kofi Burbridge, newly enlisted bassist Tim Lefebvre, drummers J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell, and a horn section comprised of Kebbi Williams (sax), Maurice Brown (trumpet), and Saunders Sermons (trombone). Two extra backing/lead vocalists — Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers — rounded things out.
Metronome Charleston invited Doug Walters, a friend and colleague, to check out the show and share his reactions. Walters has been playing original rock, blues, and soul music in Charleston for years — solo and recently with rock acts Torture Town and the Fairy God Muthas.
What was your impressive of the new 11-piece band — the instrumentation, overall sound, and onstage interaction?
Doug Walters: I thought it was a great band, of course. Derek is so musical and so steeped in great, soulful music that, of course, I knew it would be amazing and top-notch, high quality stuff. Perfect song selection. Freddie King, Elmore James, Otis Redding? Awesome. Their songs were cool, too. I loved the riff of their title track, “Made Up Mind.” Simple and tough and bluesy. Always super-cool to see a woman up there, too. Susan’s beautiful. And has such a great soulful voice. So natural and uncontrived. Perfect tone. Bluesy and soulful without over singing.
I really like their humble vibe, too. It’s clearly all about the music. Not cocky ego distracting things; just grateful and graceful musical joy. Such a beautiful thing to see, especially when a band of bad asses that could easily have a funky vibe that way.
The mix was a little off though, unfortunately. Super loud guitars, and the vocals were coming through, but I couldn’t really hear anything else very much at all. I couldn’t really make out the drums much, not the keys, and especially the bass — and that’s a shame because it looked like Burbridge was doing some really cool stuff. Higher stuff on the neck and interesting runs and such — it would have been great to hear all the other stuff up in the mix. But Derek’s playing is so great that I could live with the mix.
How did you like Trucks’ and Tedeschi’s guitar tones? Did they stand out and complement each other in a good way?
Doug Walters: I actually liked Susan’s tone much more, but I’m a single coil Strat fan, so I’m not surprised. She had a full beautiful tone. And could really play. She had a few very nice solos. Derek is a monster. He kind of reminds me of a slightly less patient Jeff Beck — phrasing wise, not tonally. I’m sure everyone will disagree, but I kinda feel like he often fell into the trap of what a lot of Level-4 bad asses fall into: overplaying. Cramming too many notes I’m there. Especially on slide. Of course, it’s impressive, but I feel like it starts to lose musicality when people start going crazy on the fretboard. I’m sure it’s hard not to do when you get to that level. It’s probably a lot of fun to burn like that. And maybe you feel like you need to really cook when you’re playing to a big room. But I think if he slowed it down a little, it’d hit you more in the heart. For me, it was more of a head thing, but for blues and soul, I kind of think it should be connecting more to the heart and gut. But damn, he can wail.
Was Trucks playing more tastefully and melodically than you expected, or was he showing off a little flash like he has over the years?
It’s very melodic because he’s such a musical dude and grow up on the masters. But I think he should lock himself in a room with David Gilmour and Jeff Beck records for about a year. Or maybe take half a Valium before he gets up there. Ha! Just kidding, kids. Drug are bad, ‘mkay?
What were some of the highlights of the set. The solos, obscure covers, and extended jams?
Doug Walters: Susan’s voice, their humble vibe, their love for each other and for making music were high points for me. Of course, the solos were great, but I’m way more into songs these days. And they had good songs and did awesome covers. It was no surprise how tight they were. I was touched that it’s a man and wife. That is always neat. A family making music together. I kept thinking they probably had a beautiful relationship centered around digging on beautiful music. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in their house at dinner.
Derek is such a cool, modest, humble dude with such a cool look. I just love that guy to death. Just seeing him walk out was amazing.
Are the TTB a soul-rock band, a blues-rock band, or a gospel-rock band?
Doug Walters: They are just a great band, period. They love each other, and they love what they do. That is clearly evident. And you can hear it in there. They are a true “band.” A group vibing deep and hard together as one. To me, that’s the greatest thing in the universe.
Concert shots by Michael Crossman. See more at Crossman’s Live Music Photo Facebook page.
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