Husband and wife make beautiful music together
MIXING MARRIAGE and music is a risky business—just ask Linda Thompson, Cher or Kurt Cobain. OK, maybe don’t ask Kurt Cobain, but the point is that the stress of maintaining a healthy marriage combined with the stress of dual music careers has led many an idyllic couple down a dark and destructive path.
On the other hand, when it works, it really, really works and if there is a better example of that than the Tedeschi Trucks Band, I don’t know about it. You needn’t take my word for it; the Tedeschi Trucks Band is scheduled to play Chattanooga’s very own Tivoli Theatre on January 21.
Derek Trucks was a child prodigy, a guitar wunderkind who started playing at age nine and was playing for pay just two short years later. Two years after that, he was sharing the stage with Buddy Guy and the Allman Brothers. His mastery of bottleneck blues paved the way to performances with the likes of Joe Walsh and Eric Clapton and his guest shot with the Allman Brothers turned into a formal induction into the band.
Rolling Stone has twice listed him as one of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time and his list of awards, accolades and collaborations cement the reputation of being one of the new guitar legends, a worthy successor to geniuses like Duane Allman and Ry Cooder. In short, Derek is good at what he does.
Susan Tedeschi discovered Broadway at age six, graduated from the Berklee College of Music at 20 and was a regular performer at Lilith Fair in addition to sharing stages with John Mellencamp, B.B. King and Bob Dylan, to name a few. A skilled blues guitarist in her own right, Tedeschi’s real treasure is her voice. A gritty, powerful, soulful singer who has been compared to Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt, Tedeschi humbly accepts the comparisons acknowledging that they are among her greatest influences.
A recent performance of “Angel from Montgomery” is all the proof one needs to accept that Tedeschi’s vocals are of the same legendary caliber as Trucks’ slide guitar. Susan is also good at what she does.
Now: Take two individuals like that with long and impressive resumes, successful solo careers and the respect and admiration of not merely the giants of the industry, but some of the genuine gods themselves and put them together. The result? Thirteen years of marriage so far and a collaboration of talent damn near unheard of—and yet despite this, they maintain the down-to-earth style of the truly talented.
Even the name of the band is as about as straightforward as it gets and why not? When you’ve genuinely got the goods there is no need or use for gimmicks, pseudo clever names, flashy outfits or any of the other trappings generally reserved to make humdrum performers more interesting. When they stroll out on stage they may as well be Bill and Linda from down the street who sometimes like to shoot pool on a Friday night.
Then they play, and it is immediately clear that when you play like Trucks and sing like Tedeschi there isn’t any need for superficial trapping. You just play and you just sing and it’s much more than enough.
After numerous crossovers and collaborations between their solo acts, the couple finally put that work on hold to form their current collaborative effort in 2010. Despite extensive touring, the group has managed to produce an album per year, starting in 2011 with their debut album Revelator, scoring a Grammy for Best Blues Album in 2012.
Blues is the bottom line of course, but it’s hardly a complete description of what they do. Jam band, Southern rock, soul, R&B and good-old-fashioned rock & roll are all monikers easily applied to the dynamic duo, which rightfully suggests that their appeal is broad, their audience diverse.
Through all of this Trucks has maintained his status as a regular member of the Allman Brothers but has recently announced that 2014 will be his final year with the band, presumably to allow more time and attention to the work he and Susan are doing.
Given the success and accolades of their first three albums, it’s a safe bet that with all their time and attention focused on their next project, it should be nothing short of legendary. Between Derek’s playing and Susan’s singing and composition skills, it is clearly a match made in heaven, a clear case of the whole being greater than sum of its parts.
A little bit of that yin-and-yang magic comes to the Tivoli Jan. 21. Tickets are on sale now—but if you haven’t already gotten yours you’d better act quickly. A performance like this is bound to sell out.