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Left Lane: Tedeschi Trucks Band

Pittsburgh Blues Festival hosts summer’s hottest duo

July 21, 2011
By RICH GIBSON , Times Leader

You got to go with the flow.

So maybe you've checked out "Revelator" the brilliant new work produced by husband and wife Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.

The pain of paying 20 bucks for the privilege of driving cross the Pennsylvania Turnpike earlier this summer was somewhat reduced with this dazzling disc spinning in my rental.

Trucks and Tedeschi's marriage confirmed many preconceived notions that destiny has subtle ways of emerging along life's highway.

The pair in question were enjoying measurable success in various roles - Trucks as slide guitar guru for the Allman Brothers - and Tedeschi as an in-demand performer on the blues circuit.

I'm assuming their initial face-to-face generated immediate sparks, eventually leading to "Revelator," a full-blown triumph in every way imaginable.

On their own terms, the duo make for a highly-satisfying listening experience. But Tedeschi and Trucks opted to recruit a nine-piece ensemble and the result is an off-the-chart masterpiece.

You can't throw that term around with a majority of bands, though this group of individual musicians came equipped with studio-ready pedigrees.

Starting with the brothers Burbridge - Kofi and Oteil. The former a one-time fly-by-night backing player for local rocker Robby Parsons.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday of 2009, Kofi Burbridge settled in at New Martinsville for some various jam sessions with Parsons before the band played a well-received set at Wheeling's Capitol Theater.

On the Tedeschi-Trucks' project, Kofi, an original member of Trucks' band, contributes his signature keyboard work while older brother Oteil, handles bass duties.

Drummers J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell share percussion work. The addition of a complementary horn section includes trumpeter Maurice Brown, tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams and trombonist Saunders Sermons.

While Tedeschi has never sounded better as an out-front vocalist, harmony singers Mark Rivers and Mike Mattison round out the proceedings.

Tedeschi and Trucks co-wrote the album's 11 songs with support provided by the likes of Gary Louris (Jayhawks), Sonya Kitchell, Ryan Harris, John Leventhal and Oliver Wood.

Trucks and Tedeschi called in noted producer Jim Scott (Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dixie Chicks) who arrived at the couple's in-house (literally) studio located on their home property in Jacksonville, Fla.

Here's Tedeschi's take on the new disc through accompanying press notes: "These songs are all life-adventure stuff," she noted. "There are so many new happenings on this album, it's hard to know where to start. Especially with (this) group. Everyone is an amazing accomplished musician who is able to listen intensely and react with their own soulful music at the drop of a hat. It's truly an honor to be in this band."

Added hubby Derek: "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 can do that - hold on to that element of surprise. One moment could be a train wreck, but the next - it's church."

Tedeschi and Trucks have been touring since early spring and are making their way to Pittsburgh where they headline Saturday night's Pittsburgh Blues Festival at suburban Hartwood Acres.

Unfortunately, there are no Columbus or Cleveland dates on the schedule, thus fans should take note.

THE Tedeschi/Trucks Band takes the stage Saturday evening at 8:30 and will be preceded by the Lionel Young Band (7:00), John Nemeth (5:30), the Pittsburgh All-Stars (4:30) and the 2011 'Girls with Guitars' Tour at 3:00.

WHAT A DEAL! Admission to Friday's opening day scheduled is free with a bag of non-perishable grocery items to donate to Pittsburgh's Food Bank. Children 12 & under are admitted free throughout the weekend.

Southern California-based and Detroit-bred Janiva Magness headlines Friday's card. Magness, past winner of Blues Vocalist of the Year, has been a frequent performer at Wheeling's Heritage Bluesfest. Her Pittsburgh set begins at 8:45 p.m.

Also Friday, Kelly Richey is on stage at 7:00. The Blueswomen of Pittsburgh are on at 6 with the Olga Watkins Band opening at 5:00.

For Sunday evening's finale Hall of Famer Johnny Winter closes the festival at 8:15. The Tommy Castro Band goes on at 6:30, preceded by Jill West & the Blues Attack (5:30), Savoy Brown (3:45), The Igniters (2:45) and the Bottom Shelf Band (1:45).

Directions and additional ticket info is available at

Gibson may be reached at



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