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Tedeschi Trucks Band At F.M. Kirby Center – Live Show Review

TedeschiTrucksBandStageShot

We caught up with the Tedeschi Trucks Band tour as it rolled into F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA on Sunday February 15, 2015. The band is touring behind their second studio album, Made Up Mind. This eleven piece ensemble includes Derek Trucks on guitar, Susan Tedeschi on guitar and lead vocals, Kofi Burbridge on keyboards and flute, Tim Lefebvre on bass, Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson, both TedeschiTrucksBandMikeMattisonon drums and percussion, with former Derek Trucks Band vocalist Mike Mattison on harmony and lead vocals and acoustic guitar, plus Mark Rivers on harmony vocals and the horn section which includes Kebbi Williams on saxophone, Maurice Brown on trumpet, and Saunders Sermons on trombone. Together they make a joyful noise and it surely warmed up the bitter cold winter night.

TedeschiTrucksBandSusanSingingFor those unfamiliar with the band, Derek Trucks was an integral member of the Allman Brothers Band since 1999, as well as leader of the Derek Trucks Band which dissolved as TTB was being created. Susan Tedeschi was an award winning blues and roots singer and guitarist. The pair met when Susan toured as an opener for the Allman Brothers Band way back in 1999 or so. The two were later married and attempted to raise a family while being on the road in three different bands. Eventually they decided pool their talents and the Tedeschi Trucks Band was born. Their first album, Revelator, garnered TTB a Best Blues Album Grammy and a Blues Music Award for Album of the Year. Their follow-up live album, Everybody’s Talkin’ won the band a Blues Music Award for Best Rock Blues Album plus Susan, Derek and TTB itself won separate Blues Music Awards in 2012.

TedeschiTrucksBandDerekFeelingItAgainI have seen Tedeschi Trucks Band only once before this show and I was not impressed. I thought their debut album was lackluster, melancholy, and 180 degrees away from the triumph that was the final Derek Trucks Band record, Already Free. I felt let down by what I thought would be a powerful and dynamic band and record. The live set I saw previously found the band stumbling to find a pace for their shows and had too many mellow tunes grouped together. They lost me about half way through. Still, I respect these fine musicians and now, four years later, I was ready to give them another try, especially because I love the Made Up Mind album. I never expected the dynamic, expressive, full-bore Blues, Rock, and R&B juggernaut revue that trampled all my reservations and skepticism.

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Without fanfare, the lights went down and one by one the band members came on stage, took their places, and started into the opening number. By the time they launched into “Made Up Mind” ten minutes later they were firing on all cylinders and ramping it up into overdrive. “Made Up Mind” is a raspy, chugging tune and drew cheers from the crowd seconds after Derek Trucks started scratching out the opening riffs. Susan Tedeschi belted out the chorus defiantly as the crowd sang along and boogied with the strutting rhythm. In the back of the hall, folks gathered to dance as Derek Trucks took everyone on slide guitar excursions into the heavens.

TedeschiTrucksBandKofiBurbridgeWhile Susan Tedeschi’s guitar playing has developed significantly since joining forces with her husband on stage, Kofi Burbridge serves as Derek’s main foil for soloing. Kofi is a maestro on keyboards and flute. He treated the crowd to many fantastic moments on both instruments. When Kofi takes a turn, Derek moves to Kofi’s corner on stage, listens intently, and with barely perceptible head movements spurs his musical partner higher. As for Susan, she played some excellent solos during Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I Pity The Fool” which she also sang with fervor and authority.

 

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The chemistry of the whole ensemble is undeniable. The horn section adds significantly to the overall sound, the two drummers are in lock step like a drum corps in a marching band, and vocalists Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers add layers of harmony that make the songs soar. Both Mike and Mark took turns on lead vocals. Susan Tedeschi is a formidable singer, but having two additional voices for lead vocals expands the band’s range exponentially. I realized about halfway through the set that this eleven piece band is a Rhythm & Blues orchestra. Each element of the band fills a specific purpose, creating layers of sound, and increasing the overall potency of the music. In a word, it was incredible.

TedeschiTrucksBandDerekAndSusan

Among the highlights were back to back acoustic tunes including Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong” which was an electrified favorite of the Allman Brothers Band. Here, Derek and Susan took the song beyond its roots with a sparse arrangement that somehow kept all the intensity intact. “Bound For Glory” and “Midnight In Harlem” are standout tunes from the first album and they have developed into tour de force performance pieces. “Midnight In Harlem” showcases Susan Tedeschi’s command of her voice and the band’s ability to create tension and release. “Bound For Glory” has become an extended instrumental workout and gave me several breaks from reality as I found myself thinking I was in the middle of a full blown Allman Brothers jam. These moments gave me great hope for this extraordinary band, and my listening habits of the future.

TedeschiTrucksBandDerekFeelingIt

I really can’t say enough about the complete reversal of opinion I experienced during the show. I am pleased to know this band has hit its stride and will hopefully continue to improve. Unfortunately it happens less and less, but it’s a good feeling to sit in a concert hall and be utterly impressed. Over the course of two hours, this well-oiled machine called Tedeschi Trucks Band raised the bar for every working band out there.

 

Hot Biscuits! Our Favorite Blues CDs Of 2014

YearEndSleighFullOfCdsThe end of the 2014 is closing in and it’s been a great year for Blues fans. There was a ton of new albums this year. Some great debuts, terrific live albums, and a slew of interesting reissues. We at Blues Biscuits started this venture mid year and we’ve reviewed and covered a lot of great music since then. As most magazines do, we have compiled our list of favorite Blues CDs of 2014.

Our list is in no particular order, although I must say that for me, the album I keep playing over and over again this year is Dave & Phil Alvin’s Common Ground. It’s probably my favorite album this year in any genre. You can’t miss with these guys and their crack band covering Big Bill Broonzy. Phil & Dave singing and playing together is just as exhilarating as it was 35 years ago at the dawn of The Blasters’ career. If you didn’t get it yet, go get it right now or shoot an email to Santa and have him drop it in your stocking. If you already have it, you know what I’m talking about. Get a copy for all your roots and blues loving friends. You can find our review of the album here.

Thus, in no particular order, our 14 favorite Blues CDs of 2014:

 

Dave & Phil Alvin

Phil and Dave found Common Ground. Neither one wants to wear a pink bunny suit.

Jimmy Thackery

Whether it’s Jimmy Thackery playing music or Santa digging in his sack, the possibilities are Wide Open.

Indigenous

Time Is Coming for you to fill some stockings with this incredible album from Mato Nanji and Indigenous.

Chris Duarte

I’d gladly trade the 364 gifts from the 12 days of Christmas for one copy of Lucky 13.

Walter Trout

When The Blues Came Callin’ Walter Trout sang loud for all to hear.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

If you can’t decide on a last minute gift, TTB will help you with their Made Up Mind.

Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr. Live – This one will roast your chestnuts real good.

Rory Gallagher

Santa kicks off his yearly ride with an Irish Tour. With all the raw energy in this deluxe box set, Santa will be done a little early this year.

Allman Brothers Band

While Santa is away, The Allman Brothers Band will Play. All Night.

Shane Speal

Santa lets loose a Holler! every time he rides through the threshold of Hell!

Harpdog Brown

What It Is is a F&#cking great album from a guy who looks a little bit like Burl Ives.

Selwyn Birchwood

Don’t Call No Ambulance, just put the suit on and get in the sleigh.

Alexis P. Suter Band

You’ll find this in your stocking if you’ve been good, because Santa will Love The Way You Roll.

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That’s it Biscuiteers, 14 CDs from 2014 we keep going back to more than the others.

There’s still a sleigh full of great music to explore from 2014. What were your favorites? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter @BluesBiscuits.

Happy Holidays everyone. It’s a Festivus for the rest of us!!!

Amazon.com: Blues: Prime Music

Amazon Prime launched its new streaming music service for Amazon Prime members. There is a surprising amount of blues music available for streaming. From newer music from Tedeschi Trucks Band & Ana Popovic to classic Robert Johnson sides, Junior Wells, and one that caught my eyes and ears – Fast Fingers by Jimmy Dawkins. Check it out blues fans.

Amazon.com: Blues: Prime Music.

Amazon.com: Blues: Prime Music