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Tedeschi Trucks Band’s “Signs” Reviewed

Earlier this week Rock NYC Live teased the release of the new Tedeschi Trucks Band album “Signs” with “Now they’ve realized being the next Allman Brothers isn’t as easy as it sounds…”

The Blues are never easy. Having heard the record, I had to comment that this, their sixth album was less of an Allman brother influence on the sound and more a maturation of the band.

And I still stand by that. The realization of the band’s talent, their all-star vocal strength (4 talented singers deep), horns, keys and well placed string arrangements make this their most complete portrait to date. Shades of Stevie Wonder. There is a warmth they found by recording to 2” analog tape. What was also evident was the pain of several close friends having passed during the making of this record. First, Leon Russell who they worked with so closely on the Joe Cocker LOCK’N Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tribute show in 2015. The Tedeschi Trucks Band (now 12 pieces) is modeled on that very Joe Cocker/Leon Russell band. Next to pass was their dear friend and mentor Col. Bruce Hampton who literally died on-stage and then Butch Trucks, Dereks’s uncle and fellow band mate in the Allman Brothers.

These deaths and the lessons imparted were huge. “Stay within yourself”, “Give everything you’ve got”, “It’s not about you, it’s about the music”, “The show must go on”, “Always be true to the music”. These truths are held sacred and they brought the blues and soul feel strongly up front in the mix. There’s a sorrow and a resolve not found in their previous work. Remember if nothing else, sorrow and resolve.  We’ll come back to that.

The songs on this record will stick with you. “Still Your Mind” is a stand out track, “Shame” (visions of Flint Michigan) is absolutely haunting. “Strength What Remains” and “All the World” have a pensive feel you can’t escape.  NPR wrote  Tedeschi Trucks Band Transform Grief Into Impassioned Musical ‘Signs’ If there’s one thing the Allman Brothers knew was their share of twist-of-fate grief.

Today, tonight, the Tedeschi Trucks Band like the Allman Brothers before them sadly fell to one of those sad twist-of-fate moments. On the night of their album release, an album three years in the making, their long time keyboard player Kofi Burbridge (Oteil’s brother) passed away following complications of a heart attack he suffered last year.  Kofi was a musical anchor, keyboards, flute, a virtuoso and musical director in many ways. He’d been with Derek since the beginning. He was simply adored by Susan.  Their show at The Warner Theater in Washington D.C. was Kofi’s hometown. The band learned of his passing just before show time. The show was almost cancelled. In fact fans were told it was cancelled but then Derek and Susan pushed on and played one set instead of the promised two. Heart wrenching, Susan ended the show tearfully saying “We love you Kofi”   The new album end with “The Ending” 12 piece band stripped down to 2.  Sorrow and resolve.  This album is a testament to the hardest working, tightest big band on the road today. A touring juggernaut of goodness, a family making an honest living and making their way through life playing amazing music. Their loyal following grows every year, year after year. There’s a reason. I hope you’ll give the album a listen.

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