Grammy-winning band impresses in Erie


photo contributed by Manuel Nauta

Derek Trucks and his wife, Susan Tedeschi, put their musical talents to work during a performance with their 11-member, award winning band.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band made a thunderous stop in nearby Erie, Pennsylvania this past weekend on Sunday, Sept. 27 at the Warner Theater.

The 11-member, Grammy-winning group arrived in Erie fresh off of two sold-out shows at the prestigious Beacon Theater in New York City on Friday and Saturday, but still had more left to give than most bands in the entire world.

The group, led by husband and wife duo Derek Trucks (slide guitar) and Susan Tedeschi (vocals, rhythm and lead guitar), played a blistering, dynamic set, which lasted about an hour and 50 minutes, that showed off the group’s wide range of styles, ranging from delta blues to country, gospel, southern rock, jazz and even hints of Indian ragas.

Trucks’ performance, both as a band leader and guitar virtuoso, proved to be the most inspiring, mesmerizing performance I’ve ever witnessed and an evening I will remember for the rest of my days.

Derek Trucks is not your punk cousin’s leather-clad guitar hero, coked and boozed to the max, haplessly matching his recorded solos, banging his head and eyeballing the babes in the front row. He’s not hot for teacher, or livin’ on a prayer or whatever it is that your local DJ plays during the work day for the long-haired or formerly long haired contingent of your neck of the country.

Derek Trucks is an adult. He’s a seasoned, sophisticated, master musician, whose purpose with the guitar is playing and working with whoever he is sharing the stage to achieve the most powerful, genuine, soulful performance that he possibly can, and seems to have a lot of fun doing it. He is likely the single greatest guitar player in the world today, in terms of being in his prime making albums of new music of his own, all the while seasoned and experienced.

A guitar prodigy by the time he was 12 years old, Trucks’ roots and familiarity with righteous sound started with his last name. Derek’s uncle, Butch Trucks, was one of the drummers for the great Allman Brothers Band, from the group’s birth in 1969 through their final shows in 2014. Trucks grew up with the Allman’s music in his home, and was inspired at an early age by the crown jewel of the Allman’s: Duane Allman, whose style Derek has aligned with nearly from the beginning.

Playing guitar at the age of nine, Trucks initiation to the glass slide, which was Duane’s trademark tool and sound, was a result of his fingers not even being big or strong enough to push the strings down. Something clicked early on, as by the time Trucks was an early teenager he was jamming onstage with legends such as Bob Dylan, Joe Walsh and ultimately the Allman Brothers Band, which he joined in 1999 at age 20 as the second replacement for Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1971.  Trucks stayed with the Allman’s until this past year, when the group disbanded, largely because Trucks decided to focus solely on his 11 (now 12) piece thundering groove machine: Tedeschi Trucks Band.

While performing, Trucks moves around the stage with a slow, methodical, measured demeanor, a far cry from what the world normally associates with the wailing rockstar string-squealer that he in fact is, or is capable of.

From the first song through the end of the encore, Trucks displayed a mastery of musicianship, effectively balancing perfectly all of the roles that he plays.

Check out any live video version of what I think to be the group’s masterpiece, “Midnight Up in Harlem,” for a sense of what the group’s sound feels and means to an audience.

Tedeschi Trucks Band is rumored to have a new album in 2016, so be on the lookout for that, too. I certainly am.