Tedeschi Trucks Band Brings Their Southern Blues and Rock to Milwaukee
The Tedeschi Trucks Band brought their summer tour to the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee with their appearance at the BMO Harris Pavilion on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Located within the vast Milwaukee Summerfest grounds, the cool winds off of the lake did little to chill the high voltage vibes coming off the stage.
The core of Tedeschi Trucks Band is the well-known musical and personal union of legendary guitarist Derek Trucks and vocalist/guitarist Susan Tedeschi. But with the band’s performance in Milwaukee, it became very evident that Tedeschi Trucks Band represents so much more than the sum of just Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks!
The band includes an amazing assemblage of talent! With a three-piece brass ensemble, backup vocalists and guitarists and dueling drummers, the Tedeschi Trucks Band kicks out an impressive well-rounded sonic experience!
Prior to their meeting, collaboration and marriage, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks were rising blues and rock stars. As a child prodigy on the guitar, Trucks’ professional career began at an early age, initially opening for and then joining The Allman Brothers. Trucks credits Duane Allman with providing the encouragement and guidance that helped mold his style and career.
Susan Tedeschi has been singing her entire life with her early influences coming from the music of the classic blues masters, including Mississippi John Hurt and Lightnin’ Hopkins.
The band has released 5 studio albums in the last 13 years, including I Am the Moon, their latest offering released in 4 parts during 2022. Their set list included a blend of music covering all of their releases as well as a number of covers, all expertly rendered.
The band walked onto the stage and instantly launched into a cover of The Box Tops’ classic, “The Letter.”
Next up was “Playing With My Emotions,” which instantly brought in the tight harmonies of the singers backing up Susan Tedeschi.
Derek Trucks’ masterful picking and slide techniques permeated each song in the session, typically with extended solos leading to crowd cheers. Susan Tedeschi also showed off her own prodigious guitar skills.
On several songs during the set, lead vocals were traded off between the band members, with Susan Tedeschi providing back up harmonies. On “Ain’t That Something,” guitarist Mike Mattison took the lead.
The brass ensemble launched “Until You Remember” with a soulful jazzy roll that brought to mind a New Orleans second line jazz funeral street procession. That set the scene perfectly for Tedeschi’s lead that started slowly but then build in intensity as her voice soared throughout the venue as she evoked the heartache of a lost love.
“Fall In” was a much more upbeat and bouncier follow up.
The band next performed a soulful cover of “Outside Woman Blues,” by early 20th Century blues singer, Blind Joe Reynolds, which was originally recorded at the legendary Paramount Records studio in Grafton, Wisconsin.
Susan Tedeschi’s vocals instantly bring to mind other masterful female singers, such as Bonnie Raitt. There are many similarities in the styling and vocal range of the two women, when compared side by side. This comparison was especially prominent on “Last Night in the Rain.”
As noted earlier, the set included a number of cover songs intermixed with the band’s original compositions, such as Wet Willie’s “Keep On Smilin’.”
The band’s songs feel as if they reflect intensely personal moments, perhaps reflecting on the relationship between Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. This was exemplified by “Hear My Dear,” with the refrains “Hear, my dear, is your melody/So sorry it took so long/I was lost in the wilderness/And that’s where I heard our song.”
Indeed, throughout the set, Susan and Derek constantly looked in each other’s face, as if they were drawing their energy off each other. Derek Trucks is rumored to be fairly shy, which perhaps explains the few times he faced the audience. But the connection appeared deeper than that, with Susan and Derek’s singular focus on each other reflecting the depth of their creative and personal relationship.
One of my favorite songs of the night was the band’s version of The Allman Brothers’ “Dreams.” A bit of nostalgia, no doubt, for Derek Trucks as he played this tribute to his former mentor, Gregg Allman. Lead vocals on this song were provided by Gabe Dixon, the band’s keyboardist.
The band followed “Dreams” with perhaps their best known song, “Part of Me”—an incredibly upbeat song and an ultimate expression of the joy of finding one’s soulmate.
Next up was a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” with lead vocals by Mark Rivers with an energy and wailing voice that would do Mick Jagger proud!
The band concluded its regular set with “I Want More” blending into Jeff Beck’s “Beck’s Bolero.”
The audience clearly showed it did want more from the band, which led to a two-song encore consisting of a cover of Delaney & Bonnie’s “Comin’ Home” followed by “Made Up Mind.”
The crowd roared its appreciation with the performance by the band.
Texas-based singer-songwriter Vincent Neil Emerson, provided a spirited opener for Tedeschi Trucks Band.
In addition to Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, the band includes Mike Mattison (guitar/vocals), Gabe Dixon (keyboards/vocals), Brandon Boone (bass guitar), Tyler Greenwell and Isaac Eady (drums/percussion), Mark Rivers and Alecia Chakour (vocals), Kebbi Williams (saxophone), Ephraim Owens (trumpet), and Elizabeth Lea (trombone).
After the end of the set, a few voices were heard in the audience lamenting the absence of “Midnight in Harlem” from the band’s setlist.
Well, that’s another reason to anxiously await the next time that Tedeschi Trucks comes through the Milwaukee area!
Tedeschi Trucks has a two-night stand at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the Denver area on July 28 and 29. They will take the month of August to rest and recuperate before starting up again on September 7 at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion in Wilmington, Delaware.
Check out Tedeschi Trucks Band’s remaining tour dates and additional band news by visiting their website. https://www.tedeschitrucksband.com/
News about Vincent Neil Emerson, including his tour dates, is available at his website: https://vincentneilemerson.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Interview: A chat with Vincent Neil Emerson about the new album, Fried Chicken and Evil Women.
And here: Show Review: Tedeschi Trucks and Southern Avenue Band at Brady Theater
Tedeschi Trucks Band, BMO Harris Pavilion
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 7/20/2023
Playing With My Emotions
Ain’t That Something
Until You Remember
Outside Woman Blues
Last Night in the Rain
Keep On Smilin’
Hear My Dear
I Feel So Bad
Part of Me
Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
I Want More
Encore: Comin’ Home
Made Up Mind