I was well aware of the the musical powers of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks long before they teamed up on their own band. Tedeschi had six albums and five Grammy nominations during her solo career as a blues singer. Trucks, of course, is Allman Brothers Band royalty, the nephew of drummer Butch Trucks. He too had his own band and won a Grammy for Already Free in 2010.
It took until last summer at the Lockn' Festival in Virginia for me to see Tedeschi Trucks Band - twice, for that matter, opening for Dead & Company. They were a revelation. Their first song, a cover of "Chain of Fools," knocked me flat. Tedeschi's velvety voice just soared throughout the festival site. Truck's nimble slide work was the perfect accompaniment.
They're a 12-piece rock'n'soul band, akin to forebearers Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. There's Tedeschi, Trucks, two drummers, organ, bass, three backup singers and three horn players. They play a mix of originals and covers; sets generally last two to three hours.
I've caught Tedeschi Trucks four times since, twice at New York's Beacon Theatre, once at Brooklyn Academy of Music and at the Bethel Center for the Arts during the 50th anniversary Woodstock celebration in August when they opened for John Fogerty.
Wednesday night's show at the Beacon was the fourth of six over a 10-day period for the band at the venerable Broadway venue. It was a gem, punctuated with brilliant cover choices over a two-hour and 20 minute set.
Part of the fun of the Beacon shows is guest performers joining them each night. Guitarists Eric Krasno (Soulive) and Robert Randolph (Family Band) came out early for several songs. After a number of originals, including the superlative "Don't Know What It Means" from 2016's Let Me Get By, the covers started kicking in: Derek & the Dominos' "Anyday," Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Volunteered Slavery," crowd favorite "The Letter" (originally by the Box Top and later a staple pf Joe Cocker's set) and Santana's percussion-heavy "Soul Sacrifice," which they also broke out at Bethel.
Krasno returned for the night's highlight: a lengthy reading of Dicky Betts' Allman Brothers instrumental, "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." Like Duane Allman and Betts did before them, Trucks and Krasno jammed out on extended solos wrapped around Gabe Dixon's snaky organ middle. For fans of the Brothers, it doesn't get much better.
The "Let's Go Get Stoned" encore (the Ashford & Simpson song popularized first by Ray Charles and later by Cocker) was icing on a seven-layer cake.
It will be hard for Tedeschi Trucks to top this show as they finish off the Beacon run Friday and Saturday, but I'm sure they'll find a way.
TTB take a break after October 5 and head back out on the road November 7. Check out the dates here.
High and Mighty
Let Me Get By
It's So Heavy
I'm Gonna Be There
Sweet and Low
Leavin' Trunk > Volunteered Slavery
Midnight in Harlem
Don't Know What It Means
The Letter > Soul Sacrifice
How Blue Can You Get
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free
Encore: Let's Go Get Stoned
Derek Trucks (guitar)
Susan Tedeschi (vocals, guitar)
Tyler Greenwell (drums)
J.J. Johnson (drums)
Mike Mattison (vocals)
Mark Rivers (vocals)
Alecia Chakour (vocals)
Kebbi Williams (saxophone)
Ephraim Owens (trumpet)
Elizabeth Lea (Trombone)
Brandon Boone (bass)
Gabe Dixon (keyboards)
Eric Krasno (guitar)
Robert Randolph (pedal steel guitar)
Piedro Martinez (percussion)
Mark Whitfield (guitar)
Deshawn Alexander (keyboards)