I had bought a ticket to see the Tedeschi Trucks Band on night two of their Beacon Theatre residency months ago. I had some misgivings about going to show, however, for two reasons. First, who knew that my beloved Mets would be playing for their lives that night. Second, my fried Iman Lababedi, who has been kind enough to occasionally lend me this space for a concert review, saw them the night before and gave them a less than stellar rating.
I needn’t have worried. Watching the Met game would have been torture, although I did follow the action on my phone (encouraged by my neighbors). More importantly, the band was firing on all cylinders this night, and the show was a joyful one.
Jorma Kaukonen opened the evening with a one hour set of acoustic finger-style blues. Jorma, the lead guitarist for the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, has become a preservationist of a style of music that traces its roots from Robert Johnson and Son House through the Rev. Gary Davis up until today. His singing voice is sort of a hoarse whisper, but it works with the material, and his guitar playing is phenomenal. I saw him earlier this year at City Winery, a venue better suited to his style, but the Beacon crowd was appreciative.
It’s hard to talk about Tedeschi Trucks without comparisons to the Allman Brothers, Derek’s longtime musical home. There are certainly similarities in their sound. Imagine if Bonnie Raitt were to replace Warren Haynes in the most recent Allman’s lineup, and you’ll get the idea. The band is built around Susan Tedeschi’s strong, soulful lead vocals and Trucks’s virtuoso guitar work. Tedeschi is no slouch on guitar either. Add an energetic horn section, backing vocals, fine organ playing, and two drummers, and you get the idea.
What the band lack for the most part is great songwriting. Their originals are OK, but not much more than that. It’s the execution that makes them special. It is telling that to me the highlights of the show were covers: Joe Cocker’s arrangements of “The Letter” and “Let’s Go Get Stoned”, the Beatles “I’ve Got a Feeling”, and a wonderful “Angel From Montgomery” with a bit of Jerry Garcia’s “Sugaree” thrown in the mix. The band was joined by Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars to provide the Allman-like two guitar attack on the last two, plus a wonderful “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” to close the main set. At times, though, when Luther was on stage, it seemed like the musicians were not sure whose turn it was to solo, so their was some extended vamping which got some folks in my section of the audience a bit impatient.
Overall though, there was a party atmosphere from beginning to end, despite the Mets loss. Tedeschi Trucks may not quite be the Allman Brothers, but they’re certainly the next best thing.
Don’t Know What It Means
(The Box Tops cover)
Until You Remember
Crying Over You
Right on Time
Wade in the Water
(Fisk Jubilee Singers cover)
Bound for Glory
How Blue Can You Get?
(Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers cover)
Get Out of My Life, Woman
(Allen Toussaint cover)
Angel From Montgomery / Sugaree
(with Luther Dickinson)
I’ve Got a Feeling
(The Beatles cover) (with Luther Dickinson)
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
(The Allman Brothers Band cover) (with Luther Dickinson)
Rollin’ and Tumblin’
(Hambone Willie Newbern cover)
Let’s Go Get Stoned
(The Coasters cover)
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