Tedeschi Trucks Band wows the Taft

Apr 26, 2012

Expectations were high for the Tedeschi Trucks Band show at the Taft Theatre Thursday. After all, this was the group whose "Revelator" album was No. 1 in last year's Top 89 voting by WNKU-FM listeners.

It didn't take long for the rollicking road show led by husband and wife guitar virtuosos Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks to reveal that the record, which also won the Grammy for Blues Album, was just an outline for the live performance. By the time that Tedeschi finished the first line of the opening number, "Don't Let Me Slide," Trucks had performed slide guitar magic with his classic Gibson SG.

That set the tone for the next couple of hours. Tedeschi, an award-winning player in her own right, soloed superbly on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” “Get What You Deserve” and “That Did It.” Surrounded by 10 others on stage, however, she concentrated on singing as the band played seven songs from “Revelator.” 

None of them were note for note from the record as the players found new grooves, and each was given multiple turns in the spotlight. 

Highlights were plentiful, from the trumpet solo on “Love Has Something to Say,” to the percussion congregation on “Mahjoun,” when each band member (except the guitarists) joined J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell for a drum circle that had the sold-out crowd tapping toes, snapping fingers and bobbing heads as they tried to decide which beat to follow.

The cornerstone is Trucks, who has a second fulltime job with the Allman Brothers Band. It’s not fair (and too obvious) to compare his playing to the late, great Duane Allman, but the sonic similarities make it impossible to ignore. Forget the long blond hair and the fact that he is the nephew of Allmans’ drummer Butch Trucks: it’s the steel slide on the left ring finger that conjures a ghost.

This band will release “Everybody’s Talkin’,” a two-disc live set next month.  It might be wishing too hard to think that project could rival the Allmans’ classic “At Fillmore East,” but after Thursday it’s not unthinkable, either.

However, the Tedeschi Trucks Band stands just fine on its own. Tedeschi, resplendent in a sparkly pink top with spaghetti straps, is a genial frontwoman as well as a soulful singer.  She smiled often at band members during and after parts played well.  She recounted memories of coming to  Cincinnati as a child to visit her grandmother. She made everyone feel appreciated and welcome.

“Revelator” might have been a revelation for people who weren’t familiar with the music of the couple and their friends. But with the success of the album, and the response from their current tour, there’s no doubt that everybody will be talkin’  about this group for a long time.