Derek Trucks at Tampa Theatre (concert review)

(Below is a review initially intended for publication elsewhere; photo is mine, taken at Bear Creek Music Festival)

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi – Soul Stew Revival

derek1Dec. 29, 2008

Tampa Theatre

Listening to Derek Trucks unleash his bottleneck-slide lines on “700 Houses,” a slow, bluesy tune penned by guitarist-singer Susan Tedeschi, his wife and bandmate in Soul Stew Revival, it was difficult warding off chills.

Trucks’ playing, on the stage of an historic art-deco movie theater in front of a home-state crowd that has practically watched the former child prodigy grow up, again was sublime — simultaneously salty and sweet, stinging and gentle, an exquisitely conversant instrumental voice that has to be witnessed to be truly appreciated.

Trucks unleashed his fertile guitar improvisations throughout the long, satisfying set, presented by an oversized ensemble allying his band with Tedeschi, a three-piece horn section, younger brother Duane Trucks on second drum kit and sometime DTB member Count M’Butu on percussion.

The 11-piece group opened with “Talking About,” a blast of scorching blues-rock that leads off Tedeschi’s recent Back to the River CD. It offered a showcase of her newly mature, road-sharpened vocals and her own impressive six-string work.

So did the evening’s other tunes from that album — “People,” with organist Kofi Burbridge’s quick flute solo, and the R&B-grooving “Can’t Sleep at Night.”

The show, with Tedeschi mixing and matching with DTB singer Mike Mattison, also offered a preview of Trucks’ forthcoming sixth studio album, Already Free, including the rootsy acoustic-electric blues of the title track; the gospel-tinged “Days Is Almost Gone”; the slinky “Don’t Miss Me”; and “Down in the Flood.”

Trucks, who has day jobs with the Allman Brothers Band and his own group, frequently sits in on other artists’ performances — Lettuce, Soul Live, and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk at the Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival late last year in north Florida — and recordings.

So it was pleasant, but no surprise, when pedal-steel wizard Roosevelt Collier of Miami’s Lee Boys joined in on Buddy Guy’s “Done Got Over You.”

Collier returned for the encore, a triumphant version of The Band’s “The Weight,” which made a perfect match with Soul Stew Revival’s appealing mix of blues, rock, and old-school R&B.

Soul Stew Revival set list

Talking About
700 Houses
Down In The Flood
People
Can’t Sleep At Night
Days Is Almost Gone
Get Out Of My Life
Already Free
Meet Me At The Bottom
Chicken Robber
Don’t Miss Me
Gonna Write Him A Letter
Hercules
Sugar
Pack Up Our Things And Go
Done Got Over You
I’ve Got A Feeling
Space Captain

Encore:

The Weight

Susan Tedeschi (slight return)

Susan Tedeschi - Back to the River

As promised, here’s more about fast-rising singer and blues guitarist Tedeschi, who’s joining slide-guitar wizard Derek Trucks for a Soul Stew Revival show Dec. 29 at Tampa Theatre. Yes, they’re married to each other.

Great new tunes from Susan Tedeschi, on her Back to the River CD.

Click here to read my review at Las Vegas City Life, or see the full text below.

Susan Tedeschi

Back to the River (Verve Forecast)

“Revolutionize Your Soul,” arriving about two-thirds through Boston-born singer and guitarist Susan Tedeschi’s latest CD, is a real peak, a feel-good mixture of blues, R&B and gospel. Riding a rising tide of horns, she applies gritty vocals — think early Bonnie Raitt — to a tale of spiritual (albeit non-religious) renewal, and lets husband Derek Trucks in for a few bars of slide-guitar scorch. The tune’s crescendo is followed by a laidback chill-out section.

That’s just one of the rootsy treats on a set of music, including catchy first single “True,” that is deeply bluesy but accessible enough to suggest hot prospects for a crossover.

Tedeschi, whose vocals sound significantly more mature and lived-in than ever, branches out this time, with songwriting credits on 10 of the 11 tracks here. She collaborated with Trucks on the Southern-fried psychedelic soul of “Butterfly,” another track bolstered by the latter’s stinging lines, and worked with Gary Louris on the rangy “Learning the Hard Way,” which variously hints at Santana and pop-Americana a la The Jayhawks.

A tricky fuzz-guitar line anchors the swampy funk of Allen Toussaint’s “There’s a Break in the Road,” splashed with electric piano and horns. Tedeschi, sounding seriously re-energized, dives deep on Back to the River, handily.

(This post originally appeared on my OTHER blog, ScribeLife)