Friday Night: Tedeschi Trucks Band at Verizon Wireless Theater
When the 11-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band caravan rolled into Houston, it was with the fresh knowledge that Etta James - a musical hero of singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi - has passed away earlier in the day. So it wasn't surprising that the group pulled out a tribute.
Photos by Barry Sigman
"We've got to do something for Etta!" Tedeschi said early in the set, as she put on her eyeglasses and a stand appeared with assumedly the sheet music for James' classic "I'd Rather Go Blind."
But halfway through the already heavy song emotions got the best of her, and Tedeschi shook her head with tears welling up in her eyes as if signaling the band to stop the number. But with an appreciative reaction from the audience - and the kind eyes support of husband/guitarist Derek Trucks - she finished the tune with gusto befitting the queen of Chess Records. It was a moment of unscripted and raw emotion from a professional and literal family whose strength is in their collective vision for the power of music.
The setlist included many of the tracks from the group's debut CD, Revelator, including hi-energy opener "Don't Let Me Slide," an anthemic "Bound for Glory," and the lush, lovely "Midnight in Harlem." The last featured Trucks' tasteful and seamless slide guitar in abundance.
And, as fans have come to expect, not a note was wasted. Even when soloing with a fiery passion, there's never a sense that Trucks is trying to show off his skills. That sort of Zen calmness - not to be confused with lethargy - wafts over the rest of the band as well. That's not surprising, given Trucks' interest in Eastern philosophies and spirituality, themes throughout his career. By contrast, Tedeschi's more raw playing and open-throated wailing gave the show a tougher blues edge when needed for a fairly seamless pairing.