Review and Photos by Lou Montesano
The Tedeschi-Trucks Band’s fall residency at the Beacon Theater has become such a long-standing event, with six shows this year spread over an eight-night stretch. This year the band, whose shows are always a celebratory mix of blues, soul, gospel and jazz, celebrated their 25th Beacon show this October, so they decided it was time to really throw a party and invite many of their musical friends.
First up was the North Mississippi Allstars, with brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson playing a 45-minute set that could have been a headline act on any other night. Luther’s guitar playing stands toe-to-toe with anyone on today’s rock-blues scene, with Cody’s drums connected in a way that’s the result of brothers who have been playing together since childhood. Energetic, sometimes raw and always intense, the boys covered many of the cuts from their most recent album, Prayer for Peace, including the title track as well as rootsy standards such as “Deep Ellum,” “Stealin’” and “You Got to Move.”
But the night belonged to Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and their sprawling band: two drummers, bass, keyboards and a six-piece horn and vocals section. After opening with “I Want More,” a lengthy sax intro led into “Midnight in Harlem,” one of the band’s most recognizable tunes due largely to Susan’s soulful vocals. It wasn’t long before the first of the evening’s many guests joined in the fun. First up was Texas guitar man Doyle Bramhall II, a friend of the band who’s opened many shows for them in recent years and is one of Derek Trucks’ favorite go-to guitarists. In addition to trading licks with Derek, Bramhall shared vocals with Susan on a four-song mini-set of “All the World,” “Part of Me,” “Lovin’ You” and “The Sky is Crying.”
Next up was Nels Cline, a jazz player by training who learned American roots rock after being recruited by Jeff Tweedy and Wilco. Some playful jamming and drums segued into a powerhouse performance on the TTB standard “Let Me Get By” followed by the Allman Brothers’ “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More.” To soften the edges, Norah Jones joined on keyboards and vocals for a beautiful duet with Susan of “Love Has No Pride.”
The band got back to basics for a while to highlight the vocals of their own members, including Kofi Burbridge and Alecia Chakour, before launching into the familiar riff of “Whipping Post.” More RIP Gregg Allman was in store as Luther Dickinson added his guitar for an encore performance of the Allman Brothers’ “Statesboro Blues.” Closing things out on a spiritual note, Susan proved her gospel chops on “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and sent everyone home singing on the band’s original “Bound for Glory.”
After concluding their Beacon run, the Tedeschi-Trucks Band will take a short break before heading out West for a series of shows in Washington, California and Arizona. We’re sure they’ll be back at the Beacon next year and for many years to come.