Tedeschi Trucks Band (TTB) made a long overdue return visit to Tucson on May 14. The packed Tucson Music Hall hasn’t rocked this hard in many a night. The band just completed the European leg of their 2019 tour. The tour is in support of their most recent album, Signs.
Many fans feel that the blues genre of music is underserved in southern Arizona. TTB thrilled fans with a giant dose of their music performing two sets of more than two hours of amazing music. Their shows are a fine example of musical stamina among the 12-piece ensemble every night that few musicians endure these days. AXS was there and here are five reasons to see this band live.
1) Susan Tedeschi is a powerhouse singer and guitarist
When listening to Tedeschi’s vocals, it is apparent that she draws inspiration from her true reverence for R&B, gospel and Blues music. One can feel the emotional intensity of Mavis Staples, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Bonnie Raitt when Tedeschi sings.
Tedeschi takes on the majority of the lead vocals, but she willingly and without hesitation lets, other members of the background vocalists have the spotlight with the lead vocals. Mike Mattison’s unique voice was front and center several times with “Leavin’ Trunk” and “Down in the Flood ” were his most memorable performances.
Tedeschi’s fiery guitar has evolved since her association with Trucks to the level of a true guitar hero. Tedeschi and the band take turns in the center spotlight.
2) Derek Trucks is a guitar prodigy
Simply stated Trucks is one of the best guitar players in the world. He started playing guitar when he traveled with the Allman Brothers Band (ABB) at the tender age of nine. Trucks is the nephew of Allman Brothers Band founding drummer, Butch Trucks. By his 13th birthday, he had played alongside bluesmen like Buddy Guy. He became a formal member of ABB in 1999 and performed with ABB for 15 years.
Trucks typically stays in the background during the sets. However, his guitar always prevails in the foreground. His slide guitar is so sweet and pleasing. At times he plays mellow and graceful and other times he unleashes a more muscular approach. He is not about showy frills, but his performance is about the pure skill that few musicians achieve in a lifetime. Dylan’s “Down in the Flood” was a beautiful example of Trucks’ slide guitar magic. Trucks never plays a song the same way twice.
3) The 12-piece band’s accomplishments are unparalleled in music today
The band consists of Gabe Dixon on keyboards, Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson on drums and percussion, Brandon Boone on bass guitar, Mike Mattison, Mark Rivers, and Alecia Chakour on harmony and vocals, Kebbi Williams on saxophone, Elizabeth Lea on trombone, and Ephraim Owens on trumpet.
The musical marathon gives each member of the band a chance to perform solo and show how extremely talented each one is. The band melds together after each solo incredibly well. The use of two drummers works very well as they sparred with each other on a few songs like “Keep On Growing,” and “Leavin’ Trunk.” Of course, Trucks was right in there with them.
Lea provided breathtaking trombone solos several times during the evening. The entire horn section stole the show with a cover of Joe Tex’s “Show Me,” “Right On Time,” “Don’t Know What It Means,” and “Part of Me.”
Keyboardist, Dixon, bought in his great solos with “Key to the Highway” and “Leavin’ Trunk.”
Their success is partially due to Trucks’ leadership of the band. There is a mutual trust between the members and Trucks and it shows.
4) A stellar show of the best blues and jam-band music touring today
The shows are unscripted and delightfully different every time. There is little banter during the sets while they let the music speak for itself. Fans never know if the band will play their favorite song. That is why TTB can play in the same theatre for several nights. The sets are different every show and it is worth it to catch them on more than one night.
5) A great blend of older and new music
The band takes full advantage of their back catalog as they dig deep into the TTB songbook each night. The tour may be promoting their new album, Signs. However, only three songs were performed from the album on this night. This is a guarantee that fans will be very familiar and can dance and sing along with music that is familiar.
For a complete set list, click here.
Tedeschi promised to return next year before the band left the stage. It’s always a good sign when the crowd wants more after a band has played over two hours of music and this crowd continued cheering long after the band left the stage.