Tedeschi Trucks Band / Grace Potter and the Nocturnals / JJ Grey and Mofro: Denver, June 15, 2013
Tedeschi Trucks Band
The Tedeschi Trucks Band has to be one of the top touring bands in the country right now. The amount of talent in this single band is unparalleled. Three years ago, the band started as an 11-piece ensemble and has been touring ever since, maintaining its original instrumentation despite the obvious challenge of a payroll that size.
As has been their practice throughout its three-year existence, the band played a combination of original tunes and covers. Keeping with its sound and musical influences, the covers were generally from the 1970s and earlier. The first tune, for example, was George Harrison's rarely heard "Wah Wah," but that is part of the fun of pulling out a song like this. The band also paid homage to its blues roots with Elmore James' "The Sky is Crying." Many of the original tunes will be on their next album, Made Up Mind (Sony Masterworks, 2013), due to be released later this summer.
A real highlight in the cover category was John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery." Bonnie Raitt had a hit with this one and hers may be the definitive version, but Saturday night's performance will give Raitt's a run for its money. This one came during the encore and featured Potter on vocals, trading back and forth and harmonizing with Tedeschi. These are two of the most powerful vocalists out there and to hear them tenderly work their way through the beautiful melody was a rare treat. As if that weren't enough, Tedeschi threw in a couple verses from the Grateful Dead's "Sugaree" for good measure.
An 11-piece band allows for a broad sonic diversity. Besides guitarist Derek Trucks and vocalist/guitarist Susan Tedeschi up front, the band included two drummers, keyboards, bass, two backing vocalists, and three horn players. While Trucks got plenty of solos, most everyone else got a chance to step up, too. Tedeschi played several guitar solos and sounded goodeven next to her husband, who is widely regarded as one of the top blues-rock players on the scene, especially when he plays slide. All the horns got more than one solo slot, Burbridge playing several keyboard solos and getting his flute out again, while the vocalists came down front for lead roles and the drummers also had a brief spotlight.
The bassist warrants special mention. The original bassist in the band was Oteil Burbridge, brother of Kofi and the bassist for the Allman Brothers Band. Otiel has since left the band and TTB has had a few different bassists over the past few months, including George Porter, Jr., of the Meters. Saturday night's bassist was Eric Krasno, who's actually a guitarist by trade. He has two bands of his ownSoulive and Lettuce, both funk-rock-jam outfits. It's obvious what happens when you put a bass in the hands of an accomplished guitarist: no mere timekeeping, but rather continuous countermelodies and a steady intricate undercurrent. Toward the end of the set, the band brought on Todd Smallie, bassist for the superseded Derek Trucks Band. That allowed Krasno to get back behind a guitar and fire off some tasty solos. His turn out front on Clapton's "Any Day" was especially exciting.
Despite a six-hour, relentless onslaught by the three B-3s (as well as about a dozen guitars), the rocks standing guard over the amphitheater remained unmoved. The same could not be said about the audience.