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Tedeschi Trucks Band with Hot Tuna and The Wood Brothers at Red Rocks

Geoff Anderson By

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Tedeschi and Trucks allow their backing musicians turns in the spotlight. Backing vocalist Mike Mattison came down front several times to take the lead vocal. The other vocalists, Mark Rivers and Alecia Chakour also sang solo. Especially notable was Chakour's bluesy, gospely pleading on "Bound for Glory." Speaking of Chakour, her dad, Mitch Chakour was a guest keyboardist on Leon Russell's "Delta Lady," a Sunday night rave-up. The elder Chakour has a long biography including an extended stint as Joe Cocker's keyboard player and musical director as well as tours with the J. Geils Band and work with blues players like Howlin' Wolf, Koko Taylor, Muddy Waters, Hubert Sumlin and Big Mama Thornton. TTB trumpeter Ephraim Owens got his solo turn on "Ali," a Miles Davis tune that had to be the selection from furthest out in left field. The song was based on a greasy, funky lick which gave Owens ample room to stretch. The tour is called "The Wheels of Soul Tour" and the other two bands on the bill are an integral part of the whole show. Tedeschi and Trucks are fans of Hot Tuna and the Wood Brothers and they also like hanging out with those guys, both of which are requirements to be invited to tour with TTB. Besides playing their own 45 minute sets each night, the opening bands joined TTB during their sets. Saturday night, Hot Tuna joined TTB for a cover of "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds," a tune on Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow (RCA, 1967). That's the album that also included the major hits "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" along with lesser hits such as "Today" and "Coming Back to Me." Saturday night's selection was certainly a deep track and is part of the fun of covering those old tunes. Sunday night, Jack Casady, bassist of Hot Tuna joined TTB for Allen Toussaint's "Get Out My Life, Woman," which also featured backing vocalist Mike Mattison out front on vocals. The rest of Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen on guitar and drummer Justin Guip then joined the fun for some down and dirty blues on "The Sky is Crying."

The Wood Brothers' spin with TTB included joining them for one of the encore tunes on Saturday night, "Let Me Roll It" by Paul McCartney and Wings from Band on the Run (Capitol, 1973). Sunday night's joint venture was a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sweet Virginia."

Kaukonen and Casady, the core of Hot Tuna, got their start with the Jefferson Airplane in the late 60s, then formed Hot Tuna by 1970. Their opening set both nights, with Guip on drums, showcased the electric side of Hot Tuna. Since the band's beginning, they've alternated between playing acoustic and electric sets. The highlight of Saturday night's set was "Funky #7" from America's Choice (Grunt, 1975). The tune started with Casady laying down one of his heavy bass grooves. Ten minutes or so of guitar and bass improvisation followed mixed in with the lyrics and main theme of the song. The set also included "Roads and Roads," one from a Kaukonen solo album. Hot Tuna, like any self-respecting Classic Rock band, has always drawn heavily on the blues and that influence was strong Saturday night including a slow blues jam providing a vehicle for extended electric guitar solos by Kaukonen. However, their Sunday night set was the one that got down to the deepest blues with their cover of Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisfied" and B.B. King's "Rock Me, Baby." To keep things super-heavy, they also threw in "Bow Legged Woman and Knock Kneed Man" from Hoppkorv (Grunt, 1976). Another old favorite was "99 Year Blues" from Burgers (Grunt, 1972).

The Wood Brothers, Oliver and Chris, grew up in Boulder, Colorado, only a few miles from Red Rocks, so the weekend shows were a bit of a homecoming for them. Jano Rix is the third member of the trio, playing drums, keyboards (sometimes simultaneously) and assorted percussion. The band's music is variously described as "folk" or sometimes "soul- folk." Either way, it's usually fairly rootsy and it's Oliver's somewhat nasal vocals that are the primary anchor to the "folk" label. But Chris Wood is the bassist. He's been with Medeski, Martin & Wood for 25 years. That's a band steeped in jazz and funk and sports serious jamming tendencies. Putting Chris Wood in a folk band is like putting a Maserati engine in a Conestoga.


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