Tedeschi Trucks Band
Tedeschi Trucks Band, the 11-piece ensemble led by husband-wife team Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, have proven themselves one of the hottest, most uplifting acts on the road today. Formed in 2010 when Derek and Susan decided to set aside their successful solo careers and join forces, Tedeschi Trucks Band has since been touring the globe – and accruing fans and accolades in the process. Fronted by Trucks’ signature slide-guitar sound and Tedeschi’s pliant, honey-to-husky voice, TTB — as their fans know them — delivers a hearty roots-rich musical mix with the power to renew faith in live music.
From the moment Trucks and Tedeschi first met during a 1999 Allman Brothers tour (Tedeschi opened and Trucks was in his first year as co-lead guitarist), the personal and musical synergy between this prolific duo was clear. Heavily steeped in the blues tradition, both share influences ranging from rock and gospel to jazz and World music. They married in 2001 and began a family in Trucks’ hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, while also continuing to develop their own musical styles and solo careers. The two have guested on each other’s albums, toured together intermittently, and even found themselves nominated in 1999 for Grammy awards in the same category with their individual bands. But by early 2010, with two children in grade school and both of their careers in full swing, they decided to put their individual musical projects on hold and devote themselves to a new joint ensemble. As Trucks described, the idea was to create a “collective that will allow everyone in the band a chance to shine.”
A year-and-a-half process followed, during which Trucks and Tedeschi minimized their live commitments to such high profile events as Eric Clapton’s Crossroads, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Fuji Rock Festival, and a noteworthy collaboration with legendary jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock. The couple’s primary focus through most of 2010 held fast to the goals of assembling a new band and writing new material that would and recording an album of performances true to their new musical approach.
Trucks recalls stepping into the process but with no set deadline in mind. “We spent a whole year putting a band together with different lineups, different approaches, different mindsets, and during the same time began songwriting. After about six months we had over 30 songs to choose from.”
The result was Tedeschi Trucks Band – an 11-member ensemble overflowing with talent and musical familiarity that includes harmony singers Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers, brothers Oteil Burbridge (noted for his years as bassist with the Allman Brothers Band) and Kofi Burbridge (longtime keyboardist/flutist with The Derek Trucks Band), a pair of drummers J. J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell, as well as trumpeter Maurice Brown, tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams, and trombonist Saunders Sermons.
The fact that the DNA of the Tedeschi Trucks Band includes so many musical couplings has a lot to do with it. “It has such strengths, everyone’s a great songwriter in this band and everyone’s so good at listening to each other,” Tedeschi says. “There are also lots of pairs in the band—like the drummers. They’re fabulous together, creating space for each other. Then you have Oteil and Kofi who have known each other since they were born—when those two brothers are locking in together, it’s amazing, like ESP taking over. And Derek and myself know each other so well and inspire each other.”
Tedeschi Trucks Band debuted big with their inaugural album Revelator in 2011, which earned the band the Grammy for Best Blues Album. It also helped them dominate the Blues Music Awards – where they won not only Album of the Year, but also took home trophies for Band of the Year, Gibson Guitar Award (Derek) and Contemporary Blues Female Artist (Susan). True to Truck’s promise, the album delivers a collection of blues-dipped rockers and heart stirring ballads in which the echoes of so many great traditions—Delta blues and Memphis soul, Sixties rock and Seventies funk—flow together naturally, blending with an entirely original, modern sensibility. Critically acclaimed as a 4 Star “masterpiece” by Rolling Stone magazine and simply “Outstanding” by USA Today, Revelator broke into the Billboard Top 200 chart at #12, bringing both artists to their highest first week sales and charting of their careers.
With its focus on tighter song structures and lyrics, Revelator was a dramatic leap forward for Tedeschi and Trucks. “Everything’s been thought out a little deeper, figuring out the music and what the tunes mean—more time given to the whole process,” says Trucks. “I think my album Already Free in 2009 was the first step in the direction of working with professional songwriters who take their craft as seriously as instrumentalists do. Revelator is the first true realization of that process, in which the sum of the parts—the songs, the band, Susan and myself—were greater than just the parts themselves.”
More than any other recording project, Revelator also found Trucks taking on multiple roles of bandleader, lead guitarist, songwriter, and producer—spending equal time on either side of the glass in Swamp Raga, the recording studio he built behind their house in Jacksonville, Florida. To ensure the album lived up to the strength of the songs and musicians involved, he also recruited and co-produced the album with Grammy-winning engineer Jim Scott, whose genre-bending credits include popular albums by the Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Tedeschi Trucks Band toured the U.S. and Europe on the heels of Revelator’s release for the rest of 2011, praised by fans everywhere for their outstanding live performances. With the new year came a string of new accomplishments that most bands spend a lifetime trying to achieve. In addition to the Grammy for Revelator and the Blues Music Awards accolades, Trucks himself, along with TTB band mate Oteil Burbridge, were honored with lifetime Grammys for their membership in The Allman Brothers Band. Then in a span of just ten weeks, Derek and Susan were invited to perform at the White House, joining Mick Jagger, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy to celebrate the blues — at the Apollo Theater, joining Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and a host of blues guitar heavyweights in an all-star tribute to bluesman Hubert Sumlin — and at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, joining Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder and others to celebrate the first annual International Jazz Day.
With the band firing on all cylinders, Tedeschi and Trucks recognized the time was right to document the growth and energy on stage with a live album. Out of a series of 12 live performances recorded in the fall of 2011 emerged a spirited blend of originals and vibrant covers that became the band’s sophomore album Everybody’s Talkin’, a double-disc set released in May 2012. For Trucks the live album was an opportunity to offer a closer look into the expansive talent of the band. “When you get a song on the road I think a different side of the song comes out. A lot of times, you break a song wide open and it’s kind of a song within a song, so a tune like “Bound For Glory,” once it’s cracked open in the middle and there’s this amazing B3 solo, it takes on a life of its own,” says Trucks.
Eagerly anticipated by fans, Everybody’s Talkin’ debuted in the top 25 of Billboard’s top albums chart and has maintained a top 3 position on the best-selling blues albums chart since it’s release. It has also received rave reviews from critics across the globe. Called “one of the truly great live rock albums” by the Sydney Morning Herald, the extended recordings offer a closer look into the expansive talent of the band and deliver “a revved-up intensity hard to elicit in a studio setting.” (MSN)
Trucks and Tedeschi share a sense pride in their new collective and the band’s ability to inspire on stage. “It’s nice having all these new songs but also having that looseness and spontaneity that comes with a great group of musicians. There are few bands that do that—hold on to that element of surprise. One moment could be a train wreck but the next, it’s church.”
Tedeschi Trucks Band is currently touring the U.S. and Canada for the rest of 2012 and writing songs for their next studio album.
MORE ABOUT SUSAN TEDESCHI
Susan Tedeschi’s knack for combining her passion for American roots music—especially electric blues, Southern soul and black gospel—with an awe-inspiring vocal prowess has resulted in a successful career, a series of award-winning recordings, and a devoted following. Blessed with an ability to dig deep and deliver powerful, R&B belters or wrap her voice around a gentle ballad, she is a talented guitarist as well, steeped in the electric blues tradition.
Tedeschi was born in 1970 and grew up in the Boston suburb of Norwell, Massachusetts in a family that was not particularly musical—though later discovered an aunt whose vocal talent had earned her an offer to join La Scala’s famed opera company. Tedeschi’s first inspirations were the old blues albums in her father’s record collection. Her musical inclinations were apparent by age 6, when she made her debut public performance as an understudy in a Broadway musical. She began singing with local bands at the age of 13, took up the guitar and by 18 had formed her first group focusing on original music, The Smokin’ Section.
Though raised Catholic, Tedeschi was drawn more to the emotive singing and upbeat rhythms typical of African-American gospel churches. She joined a gospel choir while studying at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. Graduating at the age of 20 with a bachelor in music composition, she continued to sing gospel while immersing herself in Boston’s fertile blues scene and had soon established herself as one of New England’s top-drawing live acts.
In 1994, she formed the Susan Tedeschi Band and, inspired by electric blues legends like Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and Magic Sam, began to focus more on her guitar playing. Her growing reputation as both a powerful and gritty singer, and talented guitarist led to her debut album Better Days a year later. In 1998, she recorded the critically acclaimed, national breakthrough Just Won’t Burn, impressively garnering Gold sales status and earning Tedeschi a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist (along with such unlikely company as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Macy Gray and Kid Rock.) In 2002, her follow-up release Wait for Me was produced by the legendary Tom Dowd and was nominated for a Grammy.
Tedeschi was on her way. Through the 2000s she opened for such headlining acts as John Mellencamp, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones; as well as personal heroes like B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Taj Mahal. In the past few years, she has also collaborated on recordings with Santana, Herbie Hancock and Los Lobos, among others.
After releasing Live from Austin, TX in 2004, she signed her first major label deal with Verve/Forecast, recording Hope and Desire in 2005, and Back to the River in 2008. Both revealed Tedeschi ably handling an expanded canvas of rich R&B flavors and soul material, and both earned her Grammy nominations. Tedeschi earned her first Grammy win with Revelator in 2012.
MORE ABOUT DEREK TRUCKS
Derek Trucks has been touted as the most awe-inspiring slide guitar playing today, and guitar heroes as legendary as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana have called on his services. One listen explains why: his genius for nuanced, bluesy lyricism and an ability to summon a variety of stylistic flavors—from the breathy detail of a saxophone to the growl of a well-tempered chainsaw—mark him a master of his instrument at the age of 32.
For Trucks, youth was never a hindrance. Born in 1979 in Jacksonville, Florida, and named after a much-loved Eric Clapton album, he was on stage at 9 years of age and touring as a headliner by 11.
When his fingers were too small to hold down the strings of his guitar, he took up the slide, which soon became a primary element in his approach. At 15, he had formed the core of his longtime road band. Before reaching 20, he had already jammed with many of his heroes, including Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, and Buddy Guy. He is the youngest musician named in Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time.
Trucks spent his teen years touring, growing physically and musically, and developing his group, The Derek Trucks Band. He averaged over 200 shows a year even as he completed most of his high school studies with on the road schooling. By his late teens, he broke away from the child prodigy novelty aspect of his appearances and diligently built a reputation for walk-in, crawl-out shows that featured extended solos and summoned an intoxicating collision of musical influences, from electric blues and Jamaican reggae, to modern jazz and Indian ragas.
Trucks reached adulthood, and one-night encounters turned into ongoing relationships. In 1999, while still leading the DTB, Trucks was asked to join the Allman Brothers Band as a permanent member, an offer he accepted on the condition that he’d be able to concurrently pursue his work as a leader of his own band. In 2006, he was offered the chance to perform on Eric Clapton’s world tour as a featured soloist. It was an honor he could not refuse, even as it led to a year-long juggle of commitments to the DTB, the Allmans, and Clapton, with barely a day at home.
Trucks has never been one to limit his musical focus – he’s an avid jazz fan and lover of classical Indian music – and he’s always been one to follow his muse. He made pilgrimages to the school of sarod master Ali Akbar Khan and recorded with jazz legend McCoy Tyner. In 2001, his musical passion having converged with the personal, he married the blues guitarist Susan Tedeschi, whom he met when she opened for the Allman Brothers in 1999.
Until recently, Trucks’ recordings have measured his progress with The Derek Trucks Band. Their recorded debut, The Derek Trucks Band was released in 1997. Out of Madness followed a year later, and in 2002, Joyful Noise marked their major label jump to Columbia Records and significant stylistic expansion in the band’s repertoire. Soul Serenade (2003) followed suit, Live at Georgia Theatre (2004) caught the band’s growing reputation for high-energy shows. Songlines (2006) found the DTB settling into a stylistic identity with Mattison handling lead vocals, and the live Roadsongs (2009) caught the DTB in top form with a horn section, just before the group went on indefinite hiatus.
In early 2008, Trucks took advantage of a few months off the road to finish building his home studio. A year later The Derek Trucks Band recorded Already Free, an album heavy on original songs that proved a significant turning point in Trucks’ career. It won the Grammy for Best Blues Album in 2010, establishing a new, song-oriented direction for Trucks, and set the stage for a musical partnership with his wife that eventually culminated in 2011 with the formation of the Tedeschi Trucks Band and the release of Revelator.
Trucks’ uncanny agility on slide guitar and varied musical influences have also found him collaborating with a range of artists in the past few years including Santana, Dr. John, Buddy Guy, MyCoy Tyner, Eric Clapton and Richie Havens. He was also asked to perform at the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to posthumously induct blues legend Freddie King.
Trucks was recently recognized by a panel of his peers and industry experts as #16 in Rolling Stone’s poll of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He was the youngest person to make the list, and the only person in the top 20 under the age of 50.
Derek Trucks – Guitar
Susan Tedeschi – Guitar & Vocals
Oteil Burbridge – Bass Guitar
Kofi Burbridge – Keyboards & Flute
Tyler Greenwell – Drums & Percussion
J.J. Johnson – Drums & Percussion
Mike Mattison – Harmony Vocals
Mark Rivers – Harmony Vocals
Kebbi Williams – Saxophone
Maurice Brown – Trumpet
Saunders Sermons – Trombone
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Everybody’s Talkin’ (2012)
Derek Trucks Band
The Derek Trucks Band (1997)
Out of the Madness (1998)
Joyful Noise (2002)
Soul Serenade (2003)
Live at Georgia Theatre (2004)
Songlines Live (2006, DVD)
Already Free (2009)
Better Days (1995)
Just Won’t Burn (1998)
Wait for Me (2002)
Live from Austin, TX (2004)
Hope and Desire (2005)
Back to the River (2008)