On Saturday evening, July 18, at the Koka Booth Amphitheater, the rain storms dispersed to accent the clearer beauty of nature. The architecture of the outdoor stage and the crowd of people of all ages created an anticipation to experience a rare musical event in Cary, North Carolina. This combination of elements was the ultimate staging of a blues-soul-rock orchestration so remarkable that it would have impressed the Boston Symphony, even though they play a different kind of music genre.
Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, the husband and wife duo, combined their equally successful solo careers in 2010 to birth the Tedeschi Trucks Band (TTB). The evolution of TTB has created an unforgettable onstage collaboration of Tedeschi Trucks Band’s “Wheels of Soul” (TTBWOS) that is touring this summer throughout major cities with 35 scheduled shows that began in June. TTBWOS is like their own mobile music festival with a roster of amazing musical talents, including their Grammy-winning 11-piece blues-rock band of talent, well-known guitarist Doyle Brahmall ll with his unique vocal styles, and the vivacious and soulful vocals of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings along with Jones’ impressive band and backup singers.
The concert captivated spectators with jam-packed music for over four hours. Each section of the band created numerous OMG (Oh My God) moments, from the backup singers for Tedeschi Trucks Band and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, to TTB’s flutist solos, multi-instrumentalist keyboardist, drummers, the horn section, and the amazing guitarists. The audience showed its appreciation in the form of whistles, dancing, applause, a bunch of “Woo-hoos!” and more. It could intoxicate the senses of anyone for an entire evening.
Doyle Bramhall ll started the “Wheels of Soul” concert while completing his fourth solo album and “launching the next chapter of his musical journey,” according to the tour’s press release. “Bramhall was just 18 when he was recruited by Jimmie Vaughan to play with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, two years later Doyle co-founded the Arc Angels with Charlie Sexton and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rhythm section: Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon. So impressed with Doyle too, Eric Clapton invited Bramhall to join Clapton’s group full-time and their association flourished. Collaborations with such as artists as Sheryl Crow, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Elton John, Gary Clark Jr., Erykah Badu, and Gregg Allman have kept Doyle highly in-demand.” For all the talents Bramhall contributed for the heavy hitters mentioned, he is a star in his own right as a distinctive vocalist, guitarist, composer and producer in contemporary music.
Though the storm’s thunder and lightning had passed, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings created their own version in their performance with music reminiscent of classic soul and funk, the hallmark of Jones’ brand. She engaged with the audience and talked about her appreciation of James Brown and other legends of soul music, did an imitation of Tina Turner, and performed new songs from their sixth album under the renowned independent Daptone label and their 2014 release, Give the People What They Want. The Brooklyn-based 11-piece band has lists of successes for more than a decade with worldwide popularity and accolades. Give the People What They Want was honored in 2014 with a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album.
During her set, Sharon Jones shared her painful experience of receiving a serious cancer diagnosis and of going through the treatment process in 2013. She integrates this journey and sang of her feelings about it in “Get Up and Get Out.”
With energetic dance moves that tossed off beads from her glittering, yellow sequin dress, she delivered powerful and soulful vibratos of R&B infused sounds. Her performance is proof of her survival and recovery from cancer with spiritual renewal. The full appreciation of her powerful talent and energy was obvious, and if there had been singing canaries in the amphitheater, they would have sat in silenced awe and as the audience did, but they were dancing and not silent.
To feel her “love” in the music was easy, and for those who need more proof, it can be heard in her songs and shown at an autograph signing and pictures with fans, as she sang an impromptu tune of “happy birthday to ya.”
The night continued with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, who described their music style as “inspired Memphis soul with post-war electric blues and classic songcraft.” In 2012 the band earned a Grammy for its debut album, Revelator, followed by a dynamic live double disc, Everybody’s Talkin,’ and most recently released Made Up Mind. Considered a guitar prodigy who toured in his teens, Derek Trucks now is listed #16 of the top 100 Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine,” according to the press release. He finished his 15 year tenure with The Allman Brothers Band and now emerges his gifts with TTB.
And it is a combustion of creative musicians with Susan Tedeschi’s voice and guitar talents, two drummers, two vocalists, a three-piece horn section, bass, and a multi-instrumentalist keyboard player and what they call “for what is a greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts collective.”
A moment in time stops as the two drummers of TTB Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson played, as intensely, enthusiastically and effortlessly as if they were in a drumline competition, drum duet, jazz improve session or a melding of controlled thunder of rhythms, beats and crashes of cymbals.
Tedeschi welcomed the audience with her sweet soft tone, a voice reminiscent of a kind and gentle kindergarten teacher. But when she sang, her voice transformed into one with the powerful and robust ranges of Etta James and the ting of Bonnie Raitt, yet not to take away of her own authentic and original style. And Derek Trucks was like an intense guitar scientist playing alongside, with guitar riffs that may classify him as an actor’s actor, but in this case guitarist’s guitarist.
Tedeschi Trucks Band’s set list added to an unforgettable evening: “All That I Need,” “Made Up Mind,” “It’s So Heavy,” “Don’t Miss Me,” “Coming Home,” “Do I Look Worried,” “I Pity The Fool,” “More & More,” “Idle Wind,” “The Storm,” and then the double encore: “Tell Mama” and the “Sly & Family Stone Medley,” both with Doyle Bramhall and Sharon and Dap-Kings.
Tedeschi mentioned the “boundless possibilities” of Tedeschi Trucks Band’s “Wheels of Soul:” “There’s a lot to look forward to and the wheels of creativity are turning at all times; it should be fun and could be epic.” And it was epic at Koko Booth Amphitheater to experience this music ensemble and collaboration of high-level talent, legendary musicians and singers.
Fans or interested “wanna be” fans that can’t make Tedeschi Trucks Band’s “Wheels of Soul” concert can sample their musical gifts on the world wide web all over the world:
Tedeschi Trucks Band: “Keep on Growing” / “Do I Look Worried”
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: “Stranger to My Happiness”, “Retreat”
Doyle Bramhall II: YouTube Channel
The Second Leg summer schedule:
7/10 Woodlands, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
7/11 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion
7/12 Austin, TX Austin360 Amphitheater
7/17 Alpharetta, GA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
7/18 Cary, NC Koka Booth Amphitheatre
7/19 Cleveland, OH Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
7/22 Boston, MA Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
7/24 Portland, ME Maine State Pier
7/25 Gilford, NH Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook
7/26 Whitehouse Station, NJ QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning
7/29 Saratoga, NY SPAC
7/30-7/31 Bridgeport, CT Gathering of the Vibes
8/1 Baltimore, MD Pier Six Pavilion
8/2 Philadelphia, PA Mann Center for the Performing Arts
8/4 Lewiston, NY Artpark