In case you have been living under a musical rock, the Tedeschi Trucks Band is the Grammy winning alliance between two incredible musicians, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. That talented married duo lead a blues-rock super group that headlined an insane night of soul- and blues-inspired rock music at the Orpheum Theatre on November 10, 2017, in Los Angeles.
For starters, Hard Working Americans, a jam-friendly group made up of musicians from Widespread Panic, Great American Taxi and Rose Hill Drive, opened the show. They came out firing with the song “Mission Accomplished.” Their brand of hard rock with elements of blues, Americana, southern rock and soul exploded through the theater, getting the crowd revved up right away. Two recent additions to the band – lap steel/guitarist Jesse Aycock and guitarist Daniel Sproul – took turns playing intricate solos on the opening number, as well as on several other songs like “Roman Candles” and “Is This Thing Working?/Another Train.”
Lead vocalist Todd Snider belted out soulful lyrics while Dave Schools, known best as the longstanding bassist for Widespread Panic, and Duane Trucks (the younger brother of Derek Trucks and another moonlighter from Widespread Panic) handled the rhythms. Strong keyboard support came from Chad Staehly (of Great American Taxi). The band’s set included an intense cover of The Doors’ “Been Down So Long.”
Their rousing performance got the crowd amped up for the headlining show from the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The twelve-piece group of incredible musicians always deliver an electrifying live show. Every time they come through Los Angeles the band does something new to make every show memorable. At the Orpheum on this spectacular Friday night they offered up several highlights, including classic covers, a special guest and amazing performances.
The band opened with a crowd-pleasing cover of Derek and the Dominos’ “Anyday” led by the mind-blowing slide guitar work of Derek Trucks. They followed with “Made Up Mind,” the title track from their 2013 album. Trucks showed his mastery of Indian classical style when the band played a blistering version of the Beatles’ “Within You Without You.”
Mike Mattison, one of the backup singers and the former lead vocalist in the Derek Trucks Band, got to show off his great pipes on the Derek Trucks Band song (by way of Taj Mahal) “Leavin’ Trunk.” Both Kofi Burbridge on organ and Kebbi Williams on saxophone played great solos on the tune. Susan Tedeschi introduced a new song next, singing beautifully on a ballad called “All the World.”
The band brought out a guest for an Allman Brothers Band classic. Blake Mills, an accomplished songwriter, guitarist and producer, joined the group on guitar. He, Tedeschi and Trucks took turns playing solos during “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More.” Mills stayed for “I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel to Be Free),” a soul-heavy song written by Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas in 1963 and recorded by the Derek Trucks Band in 2004. Mattison sang vocals on the song and did a duet with Tedeschi. Alecia Chakour, another backup vocalist, expertly sang a section of the song. Ephraim Owens played a very Miles Davis-like trumpet solo as well.
Tedeschi talked about her recent birthday (she turned 46) and that Bonnie Raitt just celebrated hers as well. The audience launched into an impromptu “Happy Birthday” that clearly embarrassed Tedeschi. She thanked the crowd and dedicated John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” to Raitt, who made the song famous. Tedeschi sang it beautifully and Kofi Burbridge did a great flute solo during the tune. Tedeschi smoothly segued into The Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree” before closing out the song.
Another amazing cover followed. Trucks and Tedeschi had a close relationship with B. B. King, performing with him often, so it was fitting that they played “How Blue Can You Get,” one of King’s standards first recorded by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers in 1949. Tedeschi sang and played a scorching solo before giving way to Trucks. They then alternated on rapid fire licks to the delight of the crowd.
The set ended with “I Want More” and included a killer interplay between Burbridge on keys and Trucks on slide guitar. Duel drummers Tyler Greenwell and J. J. Johnson got the spotlights while they pounded out the beat leading into a tease of Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” for the outro.
The band left the stage for a few minutes, but Tedeschi and Burbridge came out for the encore. With only the piano to accompany her, Tedeschi belted out a heartfelt rendition of Leon Russell’s frequently covered “A Song for You.” As the song ended, the rest of the band as well as Blake Mills came out and finished the show with “Bound for Glory.”
It was a perfect end to an amazing show with every band member contributing. Trucks did the slow-burning guitar intro that launches the song. Tedeschi sang the uplifting lyrics supported by great harmonies by Mattison, Chakour and Mark Rivers. Burbridge pounded some funky keys. The horns played synchronized arrangements while Tim Lefebvre thumped on his bass. Tyler Greenwell and J. J. Johnson did a remarkable job of keeping a foot-pounding rhythm without overstepping each other.
As fabulous as the other band members are, it all came back to the unbelievable vocals by Tedeschi and the surreal guitar playing by Trucks. They truly make an amazing pair and have put together the strongest band touring today. The Orpheum Theatre show was breathtaking and even though we have come to expect that from Tedeschi Trucks Band, it is still incredible every time we see them.