Photos: Many reasons Tedeschi Trucks Band is the best band in the land

Tedeschi Trucks Band (TTB) is in full swing with their 2017 winter tour. Phoenix got a double dose of their royal treatment on Nov. 14 and 15 at the Orpheum Theatre. The band was formed from various musical bands including Susan Tedeschi as a solo performer, The Smokin’ Section, The Derek Trucks Band, Soul Stew Revival, and The Allman Brothers Band. The tour is an incredible fusion of blues, jazz, R&B, and Southern rock.

Arizona concert promoter, Danny Zelisko, enthusiastically introduced the band and the show as being “biblical.” Zelisko may be their biggest fan, but the theatre was filled with many more fans that were just as enthusiastic as Zelisko. From the time the band entered the stage, the fans were out of their seats, dancing wildly and flailing their hands in the air. That continued throughout the entire set in revival juke-joint fashion.

The reasons for the bands’ soaring success is found with the members. The last few years have shown the members of the band to be very stable.  One could see the sense of pride on Tedeschi’s face as she interacted with the band members during the show.

Susan Tedeschi seems to be the leader of the band mainly because she is the lead singer. She is an extremely powerful, passionate, and confident singer and guitar player. She is reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt. She put down the guitar during several songs of the set to concentrate strictly on her vocals. One song was a new composition, “Shame,” from their upcoming new album release. No matter if the songs were covers or new compositions, Tedeschi commands and deserves the accolades given to her these days.

Derek Trucks did not speak or sing during their performance and he seemed to be in the background. Looks are deceiving. Trucks’ guitar does all the talking and the talk is eloquent. Trucks delivered some of the best finger-picking and slide guitar ever.

Mike Mattison was the lead singer of The Derek Trucks Band and co-founder of the band, Scrapomatic. Mattison shares some of the writing credits for the band with “Midnight In Harlem” as an example. Mattison had one song in the front of the band singing “Anyday” with Tedeschi. As a side note, the multi-instrumentalist is a Harvard graduate with a degree in English and American literature.

Kebbi Williams is one of the three horn section members. His Jazz background and training stood out during the show blending jazz into TTB’s Blues, Soul, and Rock & Roll sound.  Williams’ improvisational sax on “Don’t Know What It Means” was inspirational. His influence was present throughout the set.

Trumpeter, Ephraim Owens, is another part of the TTB horn section. Owens presently resides in Austin, Texas and has played with a long list of Texas-based artists. Owens also displayed an innate ability to improvise with the band.

Elizabeth Lea finished out the horn triad with her audacious trombone performance. Lea hails from New Orleans. She learned a lot from playing in funeral marches. If she wasn’t playing her trombone, she was dancing to the sounds of the band.

Kofi Burbridge is a multi-instrumentalist that provided keyboard support. Burbridge’s awesome flute dueled with Trucks’ guitar during “Soul Sacrifice.“  Jamming went to a whole new level. Then, there were the drum solos with Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson that was totally righteous. They were talking to each other with their drums. Carlos Santana would be proud to witness such a tremendous treatment of his original song.

 Bassist Tim Lefebrve seemed to have a telepathic connection with the two drummers. He stayed on the back end of the stage behind Trucks during most of the show.

Alecia Chakour and Mark Rivers were the remaining two background singers whose vocals seamlessly blended with Tedeschi. There was an air of relaxed cohesion between all of the band members that led to such a great combination of musical talent. TTB presently performs some 200 dates a year and somehow they manage to keep their performances fresh. That is what keeps their faithful fans returning every year. Could be that Danny Zelisko had it right. It was “biblical.” For a complete set list, please click here.

Austin based band, The Greyhounds, were the show openers. The three-man band played drums, keyboards, and guitar. The blues-oriented band gave the gathering crowd a solid set in preparation for TTB.

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