STREET SOUNDS: Band taps into Southern rock heritage

Get ready for the latest offering from the Tedeschi Trucks Band

  • Jul. 27, 2012 3:00 p.m.

The Southern rock heritage that spawned The Allman Brothers Band and Bonnie and Delaney skips a few decades and zones into the Tedeschi Trucks Band on their first live recording, Live: Everybody’s Talkin’.

This is a logical path considering that guitarist Derek Trucks is an alumnus of both The Allman Brothers and Eric Clapton’s touring band and singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi has the bluesy glamour and husky voice associated with Southern belters. As well, the duo are married and front a nine-piece band that is a mix of their respective groups.  It becomes a horn-enhanced expanded version of the Allman Brothers’ classic line-up – two drummers and all.  Whew!

The flannel clad Trucks cuts an unimposing figure but that’s part of the appeal – he’s an anti-frontman.  He barely moves but his guitar speaks volumes from the Delta to swamp rock to the roadhouse to the church.  Tedeschi is a perfect foil, her voice as tasteful and soulful as Trucks’ Gibson SG.  She restrains her phrasing and her use of space brings power to her lines.

The TTB shrinks the concert halls of Toronto, Washington, D.C. and Bridgeport, Conn. down to size.  They keep themselves as casual as if they could be at any blues gig.  They’re tight but loose and they understand the value of context — on the two CDs they stretch way out but you’d never notice it when they move from an improvisational whisper to a barroom roar within bars.  Some songs run on to 16 minutes;  free jazz on Nobody’s Free, big band excursions on Learn How to Love and an urban uptown version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘60s anthem, Uptight.  The duo of Tedeschi and Trucks lead the large ensemble without taking over; it’s a symbiosis that’s a rare example of give and take, and the shine is blinding.

The tent revival vibe runs through the show like the Mississippi in all the long-running tracks, giving a sense of controlled chaos and jubilation. They bring up the mud on an eerie version of Wade in the Water that reaches up before they close up the tent. Sanctified.