Tedeschi Trucks’ Soulful Sound Staple in Saratoga

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Tedeschi Trucks Band, the national sensation featuring Derek Trucks on slide guitar and his wife Susan Tedesci as front vocalist, played the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center with their Wheels of Soul 2019 Tour on Sunday July 14th. Along for the ride came Shovels and Rope, a dynamic duet also featuring a husband and wife, and Blackberry Smoke, a southern folk rock band.

Shovels and Rope was a shockingly gritty and raw duet that frequently made eye contact with each other, nodding along with lyrics about love, codependency, and hardships in even the positive corners of life. Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst combine folk, rock, and a country sound while exchanging instruments between songs. The timbre of Cary Ann’s strong voice blends beautifully with her husband Michael’s, and the Charleston, South Carolina couple’s chemistry was magic. It was worth getting to the concert for the 7 pm start to watch their versatility and hear their unique sound.

Blackberry Smoke warmed up the crowd next, and entered the stage dressed as if they had stepped off a page from a magazine in 1973. Their southern rock sound is led by Charlie Starr (lead vocals, guitar), and supported by Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals), and Brandon Still (keyboards).

Challenging to classify, Blackberry Smoke shifted styles throughout the hour of music. From rock to country to even a folksy sound, the band spoke about playing music they love and care about “from the heart,” and clearly had committed fans who equally loved the soulful sounds. During a funky mashup that included “Three Little Birds” mid-way through their original song, Blackberry Smoke slipped into the sublime. Rarely does a warm up band generate a standing ovation from the audience, but this one did; audience members were clapping with excitement in response to the phenomenal guitar solos and rhythm section.

With the sun slipping below the horizon, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks took the stage with their large big band sound. Complete with gutsy vocals and a bluesy organ, Tedeschi Trucks didn’t make fans wait to see their talent. Right from song one, the band’s music frequently showcased Trucks’ slide guitar playing.

Tedeschi belted out clear, sexy melodies with soulful backup singers. Humble and serious, Tedeschi rarely smiled, but did give credit to her fellow musicians on stage after each solo. This band is serious in its business, and its business is jazzy, bluesy rock.

Comprised of Gabe Dixon (keyboards and flute), Tyler Greenwell (Drums & Percussion), J.J. Johnson (Drums & Percussion), Brandon Boone (Bass Guitar), Mike Mattison (Harmony Vocals), Mark Rivers (Harmony Vocals), Alecia Chakour (Harmony Vocals), Kebbi Williams (Saxophone), Elizabeth Lea (Trombone), and Ephraim Owens (Trumpet), along with the well-loved Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Tedeschi Trucks Band creates a big band sound while also miraculously pulling off gospel and roots music. Their versatility is as expansive as their membership’s talents, and there is synergy here in building excitement for the music.

Music fans will note that Trucks and Tedeschi both have pretty famous pedigrees, but they have created something new in their own right: a soulful southern sounding rock band that can play jazz, blues, gospel, and rock.

Playing their own music and covers of other famous musicians, including a cover of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, Its Alright” that brought fans to their feet, swaying and singing along, Tedeschi Trucks Band has emerged as a must see annual event at SPAC. Catch their soul train next time they pass through; you won’t be disappointed.

Set List: Let Me Get By, High & Mighty, Signs, High Times, Still Your Mind, Somebody Pick Up My Pieces(Willie Nelson cover), Sweet Inspiration(Spooner Oldham cover), Life Is Crazy(Mike Mattison cover), Keep On Growing(Derek and the Dominos cover), Hard Case, Shame, Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right(Bob Dylan cover), Sticks and Stones(Titus Turner cover), I Want More / Soul Sacrifice

2 Comments
  1. RL says

    Correction: Kofi Burbridge and Tim Lefebvre are no longer in the band. Kofi passed away in February and Tim left the band at the end of 2018. Gabe Dixon has been playing keyboards for the band and Brandon Boone replaced Tim at the start of 2019.

  2. Jim Gilbert says

    Thank you, I updated the article. We appreciate your help and want to make sure the article is as accurate as possible.

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