Jam band keeps rockin’ the blues

Tedeschi Trucks Band returns to Rose Music Center

Derek Trucks and the Tedeschi Trucks Band return to Dayton July 22; photo: Stuart Levine

By Tim Walker

Derek Trucks is back on tour, and he couldn’t be happier. The Jacksonville native spoke with the Dayton City Paper recently from his hotel room in Charleston, South Carolina, where he and wife Susan Tedeschi were preparing for another show, and his enthusiasm for their band and the current tour was evident.

“The band’s in a good spot lately,” the blues guitarist says. “We started this tour with three shows in Philadelphia. It’s nice having a few-nights-stand in a theatre—it’s good for the band. You get to play a lot of different material. The audiences are great, and it’s been a good run so far.”

“Maybe we get into more trouble than we would otherwise,” he admits.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band, featuring Trucks on guitar alongside that incredible voice of Susan Tedeschi, will bring its Wheels of Soul Tour to Rose Music Center July 22. Special guests for the evening’s performance will be the Wood Brothers and the legendary Hot Tuna, formed in 1969 by members of the Jefferson Airplane.

Trucks and his wife formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010 after the couple, both of whom already had separate, successful musical careers, toured together as The Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi’s Soul Stew Revival. The band was an instant success, with its first album Revelator, released in 2011, winning a Grammy Award for Best Blues Album of that year. The band now has a string of live and studio blues-rock albums, including 2016’s Let Me Get By, but it is their energetic live performances, with lots of lengthy, extended blues-rock jamming, that keep audience members returning, year after year.

“The Wood Brothers are on tour with us this summer, which is one of our favorite groups, Oliver and Chris Wood,” Trucks says. “Just super talented, great songwriters, singers, and musicians. And then Jorma and Jack from Hot Tuna. We all know each other pretty well, and all the musicians in the band… there’s just a lot of respect between all the groups. I’m excited to see what kind of sit-ins and connections happen.”

Some of the highlights of each summer’s Wheels of Soul tour are those connections and sit-ins, not just for the band but for the audiences. Members of each group casually stroll on stage and sit in with the other band throughout the show, and that spark of improvisational creativity, the sheer joy of jamming with like-minded musicians, emits through the faces and the smiles of the players during the show. Tedeschi Trucks Band—with 12 members— seems to fill the stage to capacity by itself, but when other musicians join them, those random bits of musical brilliance make the concert something special.

Trucks, for one, is used to jamming with other great musicians. He’s been known for his guitar skills since grade school, when he picked up a $5 yard-sale guitar at age 9. By his 13th birthday, he was playing alongside famous bluesmen like Buddy Guy, and by the age of 20, he had played with the likes of Bob Dylan, Joe Walsh, and Stephen Stills. With his uncle Butch Trucks being a drummer in the Allman Brothers Band, it seemed preordained that Derek would become a member of the legendary, hard-touring Southern rock outfit, which he did in 1999.

As a full-fledged member of that band, Trucks took the May 27th death of Allman Brothers vocalist and keyboard player Gregg Allman, the iconic voice behind such hits as “Whipping Post” and “Midnight Rider,” particularly rough.

“It’s been a pretty nasty year for that stuff,” he answers quietly when asked about it. “I’ve known Gregg since I was 9- or 10-years-old, and he’s family. A lot of people feel a loss like that in a lot of different ways, and I think for us, we’ve lost a lot of those recently. I mean, he was certainly an icon to us, too, but with us … you’re also losing a family member. Everybody lost a little something. There’s not another one like him just walking around, you now?”

Whether they’re recording in their Jacksonville studio or touring nationwide and jamming with their fellow musicians, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, and their band can always be counted on to channel the soul of the blues and keep the joy of performing alive.

Tedeschi Trucks Band plays Saturday, July 22 at Rose Music Center, 6800 Executive Blvd. in Huber Heights. Special guests are Hot Tuna and Wood Brothers. Show starts at 7 p.m., doors at 6. Tickets are $47–$75. For tickets or more information, please visit TedeschiTrucksBand.com.

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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