Tedeschi Trucks Band Review: September 12, 2018. The Great Lawn at Landsdowne Park, Ottawa
Mid-set of Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Ottawa CityFolk Festival, I was quietly reminded that I first saw Derek Trucks play with the Allman Brothers in Toronto when he was a tender 21 year old. Now, by 21, Derek was a seasoned veteran, making headway with his powerhouse slide guitar on stages and in front of audiences for several years. He was an acclaimed guitarist, and by age 13 was sharing the stage with Buddy Guy, and ThunderHawk, and could be found guesting with Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. By July 30, 2000, Molson Amphitheatre performance, The Allman Brothers had just kicked out Dickey Betts (a founding member) from the band only days before. Much to my initial disappointment Jimmy Herring and Warren Hayes were holding down the dueling guitars. Jimmy sat in a chair the whole night, with a pair of headphones on, and Warren was the guitar slut that he would later be known for. However, it was the playing of Derek Trucks that stood out in my memory.
I had heard that the nephew of Butch Trucks (the on and off again drummer for the Allman’s and an original member), had been tearing up the coast. And memorable it was. In fact, this particular Allman’s Brother show was so powerful and had rung every single high note of my expectations, that I swore i would never see them again. For me, The Allman Brothers would never play such a perfect show again. They tore it up, leaving everyone exhausted as the last notes of a complete Mountain Jam ended the second set. Derek Trucks left a major mark on the 21st century Allman’s, and this era was faithfully recorded on “Peakin’ at the Beacon”, that same year. One of the high water marks for the band.
Derek never stood still, marrying Susan Tedeschi, breaking up the Derek Trucks band and forming the Tedeschi Trucks Band by the year 2010. Since then, the TTB has been road warriors, paying countless festivals and headlining concerts. The 12 piece band has hit their pace, as was evident in the stunning performance at CityFolk at Landsdowne Park September 12, 2018. If there was any doubt that Derek Trucks was one of the greatest guitarist going these days, that notion was left behind after a blistering and inspired set that lasted just over 90 minutes. Their official time slot was listed at a paltry 70 minutes, but TTB came out 10 minutes earlier than their set time and finished a good 15 minutes after the curtain call time.
Still, by TTB standards it was a shortened set. Twelve songs, and one encore later, the Ottawa crowd was treated to a spiritual, positive, and intricate evening of jam-infused songs. Susan’s voice was pure and strong, with hints of a gritty Bonnie Raitt, and a whole bag of soul to boot. Her guitar playing was the perfect foil for a band with a lot of musical muscle. When she stepped out on lead guitar, she played with initial poise and constraint, building her soaring leads and pushing the jams forward. Lead vocals were traded off a couple times in the evening, allowing the backup singers, Matt Mattison, and Mark Rivers to have their due. But it was Susan’s soulful poignancy that gave credit to the plea for peace, love, and acceptance (a philosophical perspective shared by most Jam Bands of this era). The Joe Cocker song (written by Mathew Moore) “Space Captain” which ended the set, was sung convincingly by Susan as she repeated the refrain, “Learning to live together, Till we die.”
Overall the set reflected the Great American Jukebox… every night TTB plays a different show. Sometimes a song might be repeated, but show to show, night to night, anything could happen. CityFolk got two brilliant Bob Dylan covers, “Down in the Flood”, which had an incredible break down in the middle which deconstructed Dylan’s music and sent it into the stratosphere, and another cover off of 1974’s Planet Waves, “Going, Going, Gone”. A spiritual centre piece of the set, Susan was able to give us a “bring me to Jesus” moment.
There was no shortage of musical highlights. Kofi Burbridge on flute and keyboards took out the Hammond B3 organ and the two Leslie Horn speakers for an early set break out that reminded everyone why vintage musical equipment is so magical. Derek spent most of the night nestled into the back corner near the bass player Tim Lefebvre, where both of them had the physical impact of those spinning Leslie’s at their feet. It seemed that every time Derek was not stepping out on a lead, he would venture to the back, and stand squarely between the Leslie speakers.
Derek’s stage presence is so understated and his demeanor is so humble, it's easy to underestimate his real virtuosity. With a band with so many moving parts, the focus is still on the flow. The occasional trading of leads is mostly superseded by more organic exploration. Derek navigates the waters only captaining the ship when needed. His subdued stage presence speaks to his humbling approach to the big band sound. Where just a few years ago TTB was a solid bet for a great night of blues-infused music, we are now seeing the genesis of a live juggernaut. CityFolk will do well to have TTB return in future festivals.
Tedeschi Trucks Band
September 12, 2018
CityFolk Ottawa, Landsdowne Park
- High and Mighty
- Let me get by
- Midnight in Harlem
- Down in the Flood
- Let's Get Stoned
- Don’t Know What
- Going, Going, Gone
- Sky is Crying
- I Want More
- Space Captain
- E: Made Up My Mind