Thursday Sept. 25 brought the Grammy Award winning Tedeschi Trucks Band to Upstate NY during a break in the middle of their New York City Beacon Theatre run. The group performed at the Auditorium Theatre, radiating their unique blend of roots, blues and soul-stirring musical heat. Their extended set touched on all aspects of their stage show and featured well-known studio cuts from the band’s catalog as well as a few surprising covers for their hardcore Rochester contingent. Eliciting memories of past rock legends and influences, the multifaceted Tedeschi Trucks Band mirrors roots revival masters Delaney and Bonnie and subscribes to their aesthetic which includes disseminating a unique brand of traditional, Americana and funky blues music.
After a booming and raucous set by opening band, Playonbrother, the Tedeschi Trucks band followed with an inspired set despite militant security and a seated crowd. Eventually, as the show continued the energy could no longer be contained as the band stirred the assembled throng into musical hysteria through their funky and virtuosic performance. While the focus is often and rightfully so on Derek Trucks spiritual channeling of melody through his trusty Gibson SG, every musician in the eleven member coalition is given equal time to bask in the alluring glow of the spot light. Whether it is the double barrel drum duo firing off rim shots in a percussion battle, Kofi Burbridge blowing a breezy flute line, Mike Mattison singing a sweet soul lyric, the horn section punctuating a great jam, or Susan Tedeschi stinging with a series of clean tone blues licks, it’s all hands on deck with this group.
The concert opened with the simmering groove of Traffic’s’ “Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring” each member adding color to the fat bounce laid down like shag carpeting by bassist Tim Lefebvre. Similar to every song that is added to their increasingly large repertoire the Tedeschi Trucks band grabbed the song in a firm embrace made it their own.
The concert continued flashing by like a series of Super 8 images, each moment building on and in most cases surpassing the last, instantly logged in the recesses of the attendees spun heads. “Made Up Mind” the title track from the bands 2013 LP whipped the crowd into a hand raising gospel review, with Trucks innate ability to reconfigure melodic ideas into dazzling guitar dissemination’s fully on display. Then, the following breakout of blues standard “Loan Me a Dime” instantly caused an assembled gasp from the audience, especially those familiar with what Duane Allman did with the song via Boz Skaggs. First Tedeschi and then her husband tastefully poured liquid string bends and sustains all over the shifty track, bringing the seated to their feet and concluding the song with a standing ovation.
“Idle Wind” concluded the first segment of music fittingly in a rolling maelstrom of sound. After disposing of the groovy verse segment that features Susan vocalizing like granulated sugar, sweet with a yummy grit, the song slipped into a beautiful place. The horns and guitars started to intertwine and it is this illustrated relationship that soon developed into a teeth clenching jam that squeezed the handlebars for dear life tightly. Soon the excursion fell softly into an avalanche of drums neatly tying itself up with a “set closing” reprise.
Breaking into different segments the band returns for an acoustic set of music. A seated Trucks five-fingered some woody acoustic slide on the traditional “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” as well as name dropping the Allman’s with a stripped down “Done Somebody Wrong”. Susan Tedeschi’s reading of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” was special and featured Tedeschi wringing every drip of emotion from Dylan’s timeless melody. This brief respite from the electric proceedings is a testament to the diversity and multiple talents of the group.
The second half of the performance began with crowd favorite, “Midnight in Harlem” ushered in on a Allman-esque space drift that coalesced into the songs blue rotating groove. The husband and wife duo sang together in glorious voice, each represented by their respective instruments. There is no looking back when the group seizes the moment and blazes their way first through Derek and the Domino’s classic “Keep On Growing” then the hard-hitting Bobby Bland blues, “I Pity the Fool” before closing with an extended and definitive “Bound For Glory”.
The band’s own “Bound for Glory” contained jamming that bordered on the edge of fusion magic. A plethora of horn exclamations, sexy slide and honky keyboards lifted the song to dizzying and illicit heights. The central section of the song lost its structure, going so far out you wonder how they are going to land. The band so deftly balances the tight rope between accessible songs and twisted improvisational passages that their appeal is one of celebration and cross genre pollination. The group not only represents a sepia toned lonesome train whistle of the blues past, but a Technicolor supersonic rocket ship into the musical future. “Bound for Glory” encapsulates all of these elements and fittingly closes the show.
A gentle and original version of James Taylor’s, “Fire and Rain” closed the evening and sent a hungry crowd home stuffed, unable to imbibe another musical bite. The greatest thing about this evening’s performance is the realization that the band will be back and they will continue to improve and grow their catalog of music. Tedeschi Trucks band delivers the goods on a nightly basis, it’s a shame there can not be more nights like this one.