2nd July 2021
I’ve featured the Tedeschi Trucks Band quite often since the early days of our group and know that many of you are already fans. I recently got the heads-up of a new live album, Layla Revisited, which will be available from the 16th July. It was recorded in 2019 at the LOCKN’ festival and comes as a double CD and 3-LP album.
Layla Revisited is a performance of the classic Derek and the Dominos album along with some additional songs. The band is joined by guest guitarists Trey Anastasio and Doyle Bramhall II. You may never have heard of these two fellows, but they are huge in the music world.
Let’s set the scene with an old classic from the new album before I embark on a little Tedeschi Trucks Band back story. I think Bessie Smith would have been proud that her 1927 song ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out’ (written for Vaudeville in 1923 by Jimmy Cox) would still be rocking houses nearly 100 years later.
Susan’s powerhouse blues style perfectly suits the song and you can’t fault the guitar line-up of Derek Trucks, Ms Tedeschi, Trey Anastasio (songwriter / composer / lead vocalist of Phish and LOTS of other things) and Doyle Bramhall II (known for his work with Eric Clapton and Roger Waters during his many years in the industry). These four virtuosos bring their individual guitar styles together with breath-taking skill and the result is one of the best versions of this well-known song I have yet heard.
For those not familiar with Tedeschi Trucks Band’s history (for ease let me use TTB) here’s a potted history. Both Derek and Susan had successful separate musical careers before TTB. Fifteen-year-old Derek formed the Derek Trucks Band in 1994 and by his twentieth birthday was playing along with Bob Dylan, Joe Walsh and Stephen Stills. He is the nephew of the late Butch Tucks, drummer of the Allman Brothers.
He became a full-time member of The Allman Brothers in 1999 after having featured as a guest musician on their tours. He formed a studio collaboration with JJ Cale and Eric Clapton in 2006 which resulted in a world tour. He toured as a part of Clapton’s band after appearing with them at the 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival. His band dissolved in 2010 and in 2014 both he and guitarist virtuoso, Warren Heynes announced they would be leaving The Allman Bothers at the end of the year. This prompted The Allman Brothers to announce their retirement and marks the year that TTB was born.
Susan Tedeschi formed her band in 1993 and learned her blues style from Tim Gearan in 1995. In 1997 they were signed to an indie label and released the album Just Won’t Burn to critical acclaim. Through 1998/99 she toured extensively through the USA drawing larger crowds as news of this new act spread.
Susan was eventually opening for the likes of John Mellencamp, BB King, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Dylan, and her future husband’s group The Allman Brothers. It was when she opened for The Rolling Stones in 2003 that she started to gain the recognition she deserved.
When she and Derek decide to not only join forces but also maintain all the band members AND include a horn section, it was a risk. It’s a big payroll but sometimes minimal financial reward is outweighed by the calibre of the musicians and their commitment to their craft.
Time for another track, here’s ‘Tell the Truth’
At the time of Susan and Derek debuting their new band the music scene was dominated by auto-tuned vocals and other such technological theatrics. At the other end of the scale was TTB who loaded themselves into two tour busses and hit the road with a new band and a new sound. That’s what ambition is about.
Five-years of incessant touring raised their profile and were handpicked by Clapton, Dylan and Santana as opening acts. The band has evolved over the years and the present lineup is (from their official website):
“There have been evolutionary changes to the band along the way, but the freight-train force of veteran drummers J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell were there from the start, along with two brilliant Trucks Band veterans to amplify the rhythm section: Kofi Burbridge with his prodigious talent on keys and flute, and Mike Mattison, with his dynamic vocals and songwriting skills. A 3-piece horn section brought on for studio work proved indispensable to the group’s sound and became a permanent addition – now composed of Kebbi Williams’ intergalactic saxophone, Ephraim Owens on trumpet and Elizabeth Lea on trombone. Industry-renowned bassist Tim Lefebvre (David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Sting) joined in 2013, and two years later a third incredible voice, Alecia Chakour, was added to the background vocals provided by Mark Rivers and Mattison; each more than capable of delivering a stirring turn as a lead vocalist”
Before COVID lockdowns the band were touring upward of 200 days a year. Their live shows are legendary and set lists are rarely repeated.
TTB’s uncompromising vision has paid off. They are now 12-members strong, and have a catalog of five albums that captures nearly a decade of steady touring the U.S. and abroad. It is no wonder that the Tedeschi Trucks Band carries a distinguished reputation earned from both audiences and critics as one of the premier live bands in the world.
Old TTB fans will know this, but for newbies there are numerous clips of live performances available on YouTube that are highly recommended. I’m closing with the song ‘Why Does Love Got To Be So Bad’. It is 8:29 minutes of jaw-dropping perfection and the guitar play between Trucks and Trey Anastasio is controlled in a way that only true masters can achieve.
There have only been these three clips from the live show released to date but I’m sure there will be more to follow after the official release on the 16th July. I promise to share them as soon as there are. Thanks for sharing some music time with me. Catch you soon.
The Loving the Music mini-features are written and compiled by me to support Loving the Music’s Facebook page and group. Join the community for regular themed three-part posts that does more than just share a song.
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Words © Andrew Knapp 2021