A restless horde of music loyalists crammed into the Fox Tucson Theatre the other night to witness one of the finest blues musicians this side of Robert Johnson. And uh, Derek Trucks and the other male members of the Tedeschi Trucks Band weren’t half bad either.
But truth be told, the assemblage of incomparable musicians – Trucks (unbelievable guitar), Kofi Burbridge (keyboards, flute), Tyler Greenwell (drums), J.J. Johnson (drums), Mike Mattison (vocals), Mark Rivers (vocals), Maurice Brown (trumpet), Kebbi Williams (Saxophone), Saunders Sermons (trombone) and Tim Lefebvre (bass) – were really just in Tucson to play at Susan Tedeschi’s coronation as queen of the blues.
The whisky-voiced temptress put a stranglehold on the masses – as well as her trusty Fender Telecaster – that began with the first smoky notes of “Made Up Mind” and ended only as the last extraordinary riffs of their blistering two-song encore ricocheted off of the theatre’s ornate ceiling.
Oh, the matchless Trucks definitely came to lay down some of his brilliant slide guitar work. His soulful handiwork on “Midnight In Harlem” alone was ample validation of his youthful standing as one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time.
After his otherworldly intro to “Love Has Something” – sans slide no less – rumor has it that music insiders were scrambling to find an adequate word to describe Trucks’ unaccompanied forays into electric dreamland. Simply calling them “solos” is akin to pronouncing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony a “hit single.”
He may be the most down-to-earth guitar legend in the universe off stage. But the second he hits the stand, Trucks has his game face on – that “man, this is nothin’” look that belies the controlled fury with which he attacks each and every electrifying note.
He did manage to bust a grin or two, notably during his talented wife’s muddy solo on T ‘n’ T’s outstanding cover of Elmore James’ “Sky Is Crying” – and while enjoying Burbridge’s matchless keyboard run on “The Storm.”
If not for the fact that another “fair to middlin’” guitarist has already laid claim to the epithet, Trucks’ effortless style would easily earn him the title of “Slowhand.” But after beholding his deceptively uncomplicated work on “Bound For Glory,” “Old Time Lovin’ / All That I Need” – and just about every other song in the set – I suppose it would be simpler to just call the young guitar god “Easy.”
Don’t be fooled by the seeming minimalism of Trucks’ graceful fretwork however. I swear I saw his Gibson sweating as he powered his way through a funky “Don’t Drift Away.” But then again, unlike “ordinary” guitarists, Trucks plays the same instrument throughout the show.
That’d be enough to make any gitbox perspire – as well as the attentive masses – because after two solid hours of affecting vocals, dazzling horns, stunning keyboard runs and undisputed guitar genius the euphoric crowd was nothing short of wrung out.
And if there was any truth to the title of the exceptional band’s closing number, “Get What You Deserve,” then the rapt multitudes must have done some pretty incredible things...to deserve the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s musical brilliance that is.