Sherpa Concerts, Square Peg Concerts and Production Simple Present
Tedeschi Trucks Band
The Wood Brothers
1080 Amphitheater Road
Louisville, KY, 40214
Doors 6:30PM / Show 7:30PM
Watch & Listen
Tedeschi Trucks Band
As husband-wife couples go in the world of music, it is a challenge to find a duo as well-fitted and naturally prolific as that of singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi and guitarist Derek Trucks. They are both heavily steeped in the blues tradition, yet open to far-ranging influences including rock, gospel, jazz and World music. Each has produced recordings that share a sensibility best described as a swampy mix of rootsy, rockin' American music. The two have guested on each other's albums, toured together intermittently, and last year they each received individual Grammy nominations in the category of "Best Contemporary Blues Album" for their 2009 albums, Tedeschi for Back To The River and Trucks for Already Free (which he won). As well, they often perform together with the Allman Brothers Band—with whom Trucks continues to play as co-lead guitarist.
In fact, it was during an Allman Brothers tour in 1999 that the two first met. They fell in love, married in 2001, and began a family in Trucks's hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. By early 2010, with two children in grade school and both of their careers in full-swing, they made a vow to put their individual musical projects on hold and devote themselves to a new joint ensemble they would co-lead, what Trucks then described as a "collective that will allow everyone in the band a chance to shine. We're not sure yet what it will sound like exactly – we're just going to let it come together and not force a vision on it."
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, writing new material, 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."
On June 7, Tedeschi Trucks Band will release its debut recording Revelator, the result of eighteen months of dedicated musical focus. True to Trucks's promise, the album is a confident yet unforced triumph offering a cohesive vision: an idyllic, musical world 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.
And true to a title that suggests both the gospel-flavored intensity and stunning, soulful impact of its twelve original tracks, Revelator includes smoky, blues-dipped rockers and heart-stilling ballads that show off, respectively, the gutsier and softer side of Tedeschi's vocal ability, plus a series of emotive, story-telling solos shaped by Trucks's uncanny agility on slide-guitar. With its focus on tighter song structures and lyrics rather than extended improvisations, the album serves as dramatic leap forward for Tedeschi and Trucks—one which makes sense in looking back.
"This album is an evolution of what we've all been doing before," says Trucks. "Before with what Susan and I were doing, those were live bands that charged down the road, playing constantly and occasionally finding time to record. Now with this album, everything's been thought out a little deeper, figuring out the music and what the tunes mean—more time given to the whole process. 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 found Trucks taking on the role 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. "It's relaxing being at home but it can't just be sitting there. You have to live up to what the studio is, and with this level of musicianship, and with this gear, it forces you to be on your toes."
Trucks also recruited Grammy-winning engineer Jim Scott, whose genre-bending credits include popular albums by the Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Trucks co-produced the album with Scott, about whom Trucks says: "It really mean a lot when Jim would listen to something and say 'Now THAT sounds like a record to me.' He has a great way of sensing and knowing when a song had arrived and that nothing else was needed."
Most notably, Revelator features the newly formed Tedeschi Trucks Band, an eleven-member ensemble overflowing with talent and musical familiarity. Harmony singers Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers have joined forces with 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, plus trumpeter Maurice Brown, tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams, and trombonist Saunders Sermons. (Additionally, Ryan Shaw and David Ryan Harris supply harmony vocals to various tracks on the album, and Alam Khan adds his masterful sarod playing to 'These Walls.') The fact that this aggregation includes so many musicians related by experience—and blood—clearly adds to the notion of Revelator as a true group album, the product of a musical family.
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."
Trucks recalls that during the group's tour in the fall of 2010, "It felt like everyone was trying to find their place. I found our New Years show in Jacksonville was the first time it all came together, it became very adventurous. We started playing with the realization that even with a big band, it can still turn on a dime."
Tedeschi and Trucks plan to tour the U.S. and Europe on the heels of the release of Revelator, performing the music from the album as well as old favorites. Trucks echoes Tedeschi's sense of anticipation and pride in their new collective. "I'm really looking forward to hitting the road and letting things grow until each show feels like an event. 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."
The Wood Brothers
Two brothers decide to form a band, adapting the blues, folk and other roots‐music sounds they loved
as kids into their own evocative sound and twining their voices in the sort of high‐lonesome harmony
blend for which sibling singers are often renowned. While that's not a terribly unusual story, the Wood
Brothers took a twisty path to their ultimate collaboration. Indeed, they pursued separate projects for
some 15 years before joining forces.
You wouldn't necessarily gather this fact from listening to Smoke Ring Halo (Southern Ground), the
duo's third full‐length album – their musical chemistry has never felt more profound. Oliver Wood
(guitar, vocals) and Chris Wood (bass, vocals, harmonica) refine their rich, spacious sound on songs like
the rousing opener "Mary Anna," the back‐porch‐funky "Shoofly Pie," the waltz‐time plaint "Pay
Attention," the elegiac title track, the gospel‐inflected "Made It Up the Mountain" and more.
With supple assistance from drummer Tyler Greenwell and a fleet of gifted guest players – not to
mention Grammy‐nominated producer‐engineer‐mixer Jim Scott (Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Lucinda
Williams) – the brothers simmer, swing and soar, shifting moods and time signatures with aplomb. As
ever, Oliver's lived‐in, expressive voice and urgent fretwork bounce off Chris' propulsive stand‐up bass
lines, in‐the‐pocket harmonies and ghostly harmonica phrases. But this time Chris contributed some
lead vocals, displaying a startlingly pure tone on the dreamy "The Shore" and the slide‐spiced
They both imbibed the heady tones and stories of American roots music – notably folk, blues, bluegrass
and country – at the feet of their father, a molecular biologist with a passion for performing. "Even
before we discovered his record collection, we listened to him around the campfire or at family
gatherings," Oliver recalls of assorted hootenannies at their Boulder, Colorado, home and other locales.
"He'd entertain anybody." Adds Chris, "Having that experience of live music at home was pretty
important. It definitely affected the way my brother and I view music." Their mother, a poet,
meanwhile, taught them a deep appreciation for storytelling and turn of phrase.
Though initially "too shy to sing," Oliver became obsessed with the guitar, especially as voiced by
bluesmen like Lightnin' Hopkins and Jimmy Reed. Chris, who cites the "roundness, warmth and mystery"
of those same blues recordings as a primary influence, studied clarinet and piano but gravitated toward
jazz sounds; by the time he took up the bass he was fully enraptured. The boys discovered classic rock
artists like Hendrix and Led Zeppelin on their own along the way; Oliver followed those monster guitar
riffs back to the electric blues of "the Kings" (B.B., Albert and Freddie), Albert Collins and other midcentury
masters. He too spent some time spellbound by the complex filigrees of bebop – but, as he says,
"I came back full circle" to roots music.
Their paths diverged after those teenage explorations. Oliver briefly attended UC Santa Cruz before
dropping out to follow some fellow musicians to Atlanta, where he tackled Motown and other R&B
covers on guitar in local clubs. "I was learning how to be a working musician," he remembers. "I didn't
yet have aspirations to be an artist." Though that band didn't last long, a regular Tuesday‐night gig at
Fat Matt's Rib Shack enabled him to hone his chops and learn from older players. He eventually secured
a spot in the band of veteran bluesman Tinsley Ellis, touring widely and experiencing the elder
musician's "workhorse" schedule. It was his mentor Ellis who ultimately encouraged him to approach
the microphone. "He gave me a Freddie King song, 'See See Baby,' to sing in the set," Oliver relates. "He
encouraged me to write and sing. That's where I got the fire to do my own thing."
He formed King Johnson with his buddy Chris Long, layering R&B, funk, soul and country elements over
their beloved blues influences. He toured constantly with that "labor of love" band during the 12 years
of its existence; KJ released six albums and eventually became a six‐piece outfit (including a horn
Chris, meanwhile, went off to the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC), developing his virtuosic
skills on bass, studying with jazz luminaries like Geri Allen and Dave Holland and gigging regularly as a
sideman. It was during a fateful session in Western Massachusetts that he met keyboard wizard John
Medeski; with drummer Billy Martin, they would go on to form the hugely influential, genre‐busting
instrumental trio Medeski Martin & Wood in the early '90s. MMW released a string of discs combining
jazz, funk, blues, experimental noise and myriad other subgenres and styles into their own distinctive
amalgam, and mesmerized audiences worldwide with their seemingly telekinetic improvisation. Wood's
colossal grooves on both electric and acoustic axes – not to mention his imaginative use of paper behind
the strings and other sound‐altering techniques – made him the bass player's bass player.
Eventually, King Johnson opened for MMW in Winston‐Salem, N.C., and Oliver sat in with his brother's
band. "It was a slightly creepy experience, like watching myself" Chris notes. "He had a lot of the same
impulses I did. Part of it was influences and part of it was blood." Agrees Oliver, "It opened our eyes
that we could communicate on a musical level."
In 2004, the brothers seized the opportunity presented by a family reunion and recorded some material
together on Chris' mobile gear. The sound of their blended styles was instantly compelling. "It was
pretty amazing to get together with Chris," Oliver muses. "We played together as teenagers, then we
went in separate directions for 15 years. We'd developed our own thing and seemingly different styles
and roads, but we were both blown away by how much we had in common. The roots are still there."
Oliver took the music they'd recorded, added lyrics and finished it as a song. Encouraged by their initial
foray, the Woods decided to take the next step, with Chris learning a batch of Oliver's songs and the pair
tracking a demo. Though they'd done it for their own amusement, MMW's manager was sufficiently
impressed to pass the music on to Blue Note Records. No sooner had they begun to think of themselves
as a band than the Wood Brothers had a record deal. (Prior to releasing their album debut for the label,
the pair dropped an EP, Live at Tonic; it was culled from their very first gig together, at the storied New
Oliver had spent years polishing his singing and songwriting but felt his guitar chops needed work. Chris,
meanwhile, was a monster player who'd spent 15 years making instrumental music and had to reacclimate
himself to vocals and pop song structure. These different emphases ended up serving them
well. "I had these songs and could sing and play 'em well," reflects Oliver, "and Chris' strength – at the
time – was to take my songs and make 'em sound completely cool and unique. Instead of a typical band
situation, you had this incredible upright bass."
2006 saw the release of their first album, Ways Not to Lose, which was named top pick in folk by
Amazon.com's editors that year. "Modern folk and blues rarely sounds as inventive and colorful,"
declared Amazon reviewer Ted Drozdowski, who deemed the disc "delightful" and declared the brothers
"in absolute synch creatively."
Ways was produced by MMW's John Medeski, who had been stunned by Oliver's compositions. "He's an
unbelievable songwriter – his material is deep," the keyboardist marvels. "I can't tell you how many of
Oliver's songs I thought were old traditional standards. They just sound classic." Medeski went on to
produce the Brothers' 2008 follow‐up, Loaded (heralded as one NPR's "Overlooked 11"); he also
contributes some tasty organ playing to Smoke Ring Halo. "I just love his musical sensibility," Oliver says
of his brother's longtime bandmate.
Working with Jim Scott on Halo, the Woods were able to explore new sounds. "Because he's also an
engineer, he's very technically knowledgeable; he's a fantastic sonic guy," Oliver volunteers. "That's why
this record sounds so different from our others." Also, Chris points out, "We recorded on two‐inch
analog tape this time, so it has that fat, natural sound we love."
In 2010, the Woods and drummer Greenwell hit the road with roots‐rock phenom Zac Brown. "It was
about the best opening‐band situation I can imagine," Chris says of the tour, which sometimes put the
Wood Brothers before crowds of 20,000 – many times larger than the usual audience for their
headlining gigs. "Zac was really great; he'd come out and play with us during our set, and invite us out
to join in during his." Oliver notes that he and his brother "learned a lot by watching Zac and his band."
Brown also wooed the Woods over to his own label, Southern Ground; he served as executive producer
on Smoke Ring Halo.
And so the two brothers continued pursuing the musical adventure they'd begun in childhood. For
although their paths diverged for many years, and they forged very different careers in disparate places,
the Wood Brothers are never far from the musical currents that formed their musical impulses in the
first place. It may be, in Chris' formation, part influences and part blood. But it's all magic.
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