Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks: Bound for Glory (A Post-Grammys, Valentine’s Day Salute)
They just won the Grammy for Best Blues Album and it is Valentine’s Day after all, so we’re reposting our feature story on Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks from earlier this year.
Two jubilant kids are dancing amid a gaggle of homegrown hippie girls in the wings of the Savannah Civic Center in Georgia. The Civic has seen better days; it’s the kind of venue where a lot of history has happened, the ghosts can tell some stories and the blackout curtains in the elegant cinderblock hall hang with a definite sense of exhaustion.
Still Sophie and Charlie’s exuberance shines brighter than the spotlights illuminating drummers J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwalt who are locked in an extended mono-a-mono solo-jam-groove during the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s set. Ebullience and timing is the order of the moment, and the children—ages six and 10, respectively—are swept up in the churning rhythms around them.
The children’s father is Derek Trucks, the world class slide guitarist who, besides this latest project, has his own eponymous band, has served as Eric Clapton’s foil and is a key member of later incarnations of The Allman Brothers Band. (Founding Allmans’ drummer Butch Truck is Derek’s uncle.)
“That’s my girl,” says Susan Tedeschi, beaming at Sophie. While mom is the proud recipient of four Grammy nominations—including the prestigious Best New Artist Award—a gold album for Born To Burn (and a career as a blues guitarist/vocalist that is second only to Bonnie Raitt), it’s family that drives this woman.
Onstage, Derek—Susan’s husband of 11 years—is getting ready to unfurl another one of his utterly liquid, densely molten slide solos. Like his children who are undulating to the music alongside girls in cut-offs and peasant blouses, Derek was raised on the side of the stage, watching and absorbing the music of the Allmans—and that osmotic knowledge shines whenever he takes his guitar in hand.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band is an old school soul review filtered through the blues and enough classic R&B, roots and jazz to make it intriguing to even the most single-minded musico.
Equally compelling, though, is the seamless way the pair integrates genres, musicianship and songs. The Tedeschi Trucks Band is about serving the music and finding nuances that could go unrecognized. It makes for a juicy evening of live music and a varied feel on their 12-song album Revelator, released this summer on Sony’s Masterworks imprint.
Revelator is the kind of record they don’t make any more: organic in a creative sense, joyous in the playing. The songs—not quite a cycle, but certainly a charm bracelet of the complexities of faith when you know how bad things can hurt—dig past the gloss and into the ache and the perseverance it takes to live an engaged life. Susan’s voice, like Derek’s playing, has never sounded better: honeyed smokiness and desire marked with a tart note of fearlessness.
The band includes Oteil Burbridge on bass, Kofi Burbridge on keyboards and flute, Greenwell and Johnson on drums and percussion, vocalists Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers, and a horn section composed of Kebbi Williams on sax, Maurice Brown on trumpet and Saunders Sermons on trombone.
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