July 17, 2015
Are Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi the ultimate musical power couple? That may be a bold statement to make, especially when the competition includes Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson and Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. But what this husband and wife duo lacks in world recognition, they certainly make up for in sheer talent and artistic acclaim.
Separately, Tedeschi and Trucks are accomplished musicians. In 2003, Trucks became the youngest person to make Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Best Guitarists” at the ripe age of 16. Still only 36, the slide-guitar prodigy has quite the resume of musical achievements and has played alongside a laundry list of legends including Buddy Guy, the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. Blues-rock vocalist-guitarist, Susan Tedeschi, 44, is a multiple Grammy Award nominee, including best new artist in 1999 for her musical prowess in the Susan Tedeschi Band.
After nearly 10 years of marriage, the two put their solo ventures on hiatus to combine forces and form the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The guitarists’ first recorded collaboration, Revelator, debuted in 2011 to stellar reviews and even nabbed a Grammy for Best Blues Album. Of course, no discussion of the band can go without acknowledging the rest of the ensemble—all 11 of them—complete with an organist, two drummers, a horns section and backing vocals.
The jazz-tinged vanguards of blues-rock graced the stage of Charlotte’s Uptown Amphitheater following a fiery performance by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Pummeling through 80 minutes of unabashed funk and old school soul, Sharon Jones left the audience with no doubts that she kicked some pancreatic cancer butt and is back on the stage where she belongs.
Tedeschi and Trucks, with their full musical entourage in tow, took to the stage smokin’ with an electric rendition of “Made Up My Mind,” the title track from their 2013 album. With Tedeschi’s thick raspy vocals and gritty playing style perfectly balancing Trucks’ signature slide-guitar shredding, the two seem to have an ethereal interconnection only those that share a passion beyond the stage can achieve.
Showcasing their ability to cover a range of styles, the audience was treated to the catchy, gospel-like tune, “Bound for Glory,” the hard-hitting blues-rock number, “Do I Look Worried,” and the soothing and soulful, yet climactic ballad, “Midnight in Harlem.” Cheers and high-fives were shared all around as Tedeschi belted out Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Stoned” and The Beatles’ “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which were both well received by the audience.
While Tedeschi and Trucks are undoubtedly the centerpiece of the ensemble, that isn’t to say others aren’t given the opportunity to shine. Kofi Burbridge delivered a beautiful “Idle Wind” with his flute and Mike Mattison took the reigns singing lead on the Derek Trucks Band’s “Get What You Deserve.”
But the highlight of the night was the encore. Sharon & the Dap-Kings and Doyle Bramhall joined the Tedeschi Trucks Band for a lengthy medley of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song” and “I Want to Take You Higher,” complete with improvised jamming from the horn sections, seamless vocal exchanges between Tedeschi and Jones and some tasty soul-dipped guitar licks from Trucks.
As just one of few southern stops on the aptly named Wheels of Soul Summer Tour rolled to an end, the 19 (or so) musicians took a final bow and exited the stage. Trucks, who remained stoic and kept his eyes closed in concentration for the better part of the show, turned to the crowd and a let a half smile creep across his face. I know I wasn’t alone cheering in support and mutual acknowledgment that it had been quite a show.