Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Tower Theater - 8/18/2011

I love seeing shows at the little old Tower Theater. Comfortable seats, great sight lines, pretty good acoustics and a bar in the lobby where you can bring your drinks to your seat. We arrived before 7:30, purchased the Tedeschi Trucks Band's new CD Revelator for a mere $10, got a glass of wine and went to our seats. I was excited because I thought we were in the neighborhood of row 18 by my calculations (the seating chart is a little ambiguous). It turns out I was wrong about where we were sitting. We were in row 10, on the aisle, with an up close unobstructed view of the stage.

Steve Earle and the Dukes and Duchesses, featuring Allison Moorer
7:05pm to 8:15pm

I didn't know anything about this opening act, but I liked them very much. The earlier part of their set was by far my favorite, as they played a lot of songs that seemed heavily influenced by zydeco and other regional musical types. They used all manner of interesting instruments (violin, banjo, dobro, mandolin, accordion, bazouki, etc...). The second half of their set was more straightforward rock, but was still very enjoyable. Dave and Lori arrived toward the tail end of the set, and he was unhappy that he hadn't noticed who the opening act was or he would have made a point to get to the show in time to see them. Unlike me, he knew who they were and was a fan.

The real gem of a talent here for me was Allison Moorer, who sang lead on one song that just blew me away. What a great voice. I need to find out more about her (from reading the attached link, she is now Steve Earle's wife). She has a fairly extensive discography. I think I feel an Amazon impulse purchase coming on...

This was a surprisingly long opening act, but a really good one. It is always a nice bonus when you get an opening act and you really like them.

Tedeschi Trucks Band
8:40pm to 10:36pm

I wasn't sure exactly what to expect in terms of a set list for the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Each person's individual band has had a reasonably long recording career, with a number of CD's, but the band only has the one new CD together. I tried half heartedly to get a set list before the show but couldn't find one. My best guess was that we would get a heavy dose of the new album along with a few songs from each one's prior efforts. I didn't take notes on what we heard, but as far as I could tell that is what we got. And it was fantastic. I was mesmerized by Derek's playing, and Susan's vocals were really strong. I have written earlier about my finding Derek Trucks as a new musical act for me, and the opportunity to hear him for the first time has had me looking forward to this show as much as any I can remember in years.

The one Derek Trucks Band song that I would have picked for them to mix into this show was Anyday, an old Derek and the Dominoes song (Eric Clapton featuring Duane Allman on slide guitar). This song is generally DT's encore song, and it is a fitting one in so many ways. Duane Allman died way too young, ending his stint as the lead guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band. The current co-lead guitarist for the modern incarnation of Allman Brothers is of course Derek Trucks (Derek's uncle Virgil Trucks is an original member of the band). On occasion, Derek has played this song on Duane Allman's gold top 1957 Les Paul. Cool. I was overjoyed when the band launched into Anyday as (I believe) the fourth song of the show.

Anyday, anyday,
I would see you smile
Any way, any way,
Only for a little while

Nothing about the show disappointed. Tedeschi has a great voice for these bluesy songs, and Derek's playing was a marvel. He was a smooth as he wanted be, as fast, as soulful, or as raucous. The band was unbelievably strong, with a pair of drummers, keyboards, bass, the two leads, two backing vocalists (including Michael Mattison, the DT Band's lead singer), and a three piece wind section of sax, trumpet and trombone. All were fantastic musicians who got to shine in their own solos and featured pieces. Derek himself seemed to almost shun the spotlight, seeming to walk out of it on a few of his many solos. The only real emotion he showed other than being totally engrossed in his playing was minor annoyance on the two different occasions that he popped the top string on his trademark Gibson SG. He had to finish the end of Anyday soloing without the highest notes available to him, and was forced to have a roadie swap out another SG in mid-song the other time.

I hadn't properly done my homework on the new album, having heard Dave's copy once, but hadn't yet bought it myself. Other than the lovely Midnight in Harlem, I didn't really know it at all. What a pleasant surprise; all great songs with some real gems, such as the hauntingly beautiful Shelter.

They made their promises then they walked away
Fair-weather friends are gone for good
You never cared about what others had to say
And through it all you understood...
    You are my prayer in times of trouble
    I'll be your answer when you call
    Shelter you, shelter me

Wake up, but keep dreaming that you were born to fly
When your heart is heavy like a stone
I'll lift your burden high until you realize
That through the storm you soldiered on
    You are my prayer in times of trouble
    I'll be your answer when you call
You showed me that your actions
Speak louder than your words
    You are my prayer........

A terrific show overall. The opening act was a new one for me, but one I would definitely search out some more on. And the Tedeschi Trucks Band was phenomenal. Fantastic musicianship, good songs, great energy, and a great place to see a show. Any time they come back I am going to see them!

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