That, of course, is the famous quote from Newsweek in 1975 about Bruce Springsteen. It wasn’t news to me. I’d seen Bruce and the E-Street Band a year before, from the second row of Walsh Gym at Seton Hall University. I knew I’d become involved in something special. It was a chill. It was a charge.It was a nerve was being tingled that had never been touched before. Well before the last encore, I knew I’d be a fan of Bruce Springsteen for the rest of my life.
It’s rare to experience something completely unique and realize that your perspective has been forever changed at the moment it’s happening. In terms of muscic, I’ve been fortunate to have experienced that same tingle a few times. In the mid-1980s it was at Myskins Tavern watching the Ckickasaw Muddpuppies. They didn’t have the same career as Springsteen, but if you saw them that night you knew. You’d never seen anything like them before and you never would again.
In the early 2000’s I saw Robert Randolph and the Family Band at now shuttered club off Ashley Phosphate Road. Robert Randolph was the Jerry Lee Lewis of the pedal steel slide guitar. I was surprised that the stage did not undergo spontaneously combustion. His performance at the Gammy Awards brought down the house, and he’s still one of the most popular tour bands on the road.
Tonight I saw the Tedeschi Trucks Band at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and I had the same tingle again. To be honest, I’ve seen the Tedeschi Trucks Band several times previously. I’ve had the tingle every time.
What these diverse bands have in common is that they have to be seen in person. The energy that comes off the stage collides with the energy coming back from the crowd, creating a reverberation. A reverberation that is like a tuning fork that pulsates through flesh and blood. A reverberation that connects the band with every member of the audience. No record, tape, CD, bootleg, video or You Tube will ever capture that moment when the music captures you in a live performance. It is a bonding that can only happen in person, up close preferably.
Tedeschi Trucks Band is Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks and a large, incredibly tight backing band. A friend from Boston told me about Susan Tedeschi about 10 years ago. Tedeschi Food Stores are the Massachusetts equivalent of the “7-11” and are found on almost every block in Boston. Susan Tedeschi reminds most people of Bonnie Raitt with her superlative guitar skills and ability to belt out the blues. To me, her voice is even a little bigger, reminding me of Etta James or Joan Osbourne.
Derek Trucks plays guitar- and that is the understatement of the year. His father Butch Trucks was a founding member of the Allman Brothers and Derek has been a guitar prodigy since childhood. Derek Trucks played with the Allman Brothers for years establishing himself as maybe the best guitarist in rock and roll. The man beside me leaned over and said, “He’s doing that without pics. I’m a good guitarist, and I can’t play like that without pics.”
After marrying Susan Tedeschi, they formed the Tesdeschi Trucks Band and struck out to establish their own legacy. Their chemistry onstage is unmistakable.
Derek Trucks’ guitar and the bands’ construction (two drum sets, two lead guitars, piano and organ) is a direct link to the Allman Brothers and the deep tap root of Southern rock and roll. But this tap root is a bit different in that it reaches down to deep rich black soil. Black earth from which the blues, funk, spirituals and soul have sprouted and flourished. Tonight, for more than 2 hours, the Tedeschi Trucks Band rolled effortlessly through all these genres, mixing them into a delicious musical gumbo.
Susan sings. Derek never speaks, but his guitar contributes a constant duet. The horn section wailed, the dual drummers hammered in perfect synchrony, the Hammond B3 organist played the longest flute solo I’d heard since Jethro Tull and Derek ended every song with a soaring guitar improvisation that circled the moon before returning to the melody with a perfect re-entry. Every song received a standing ovation. The concert ended with Susan Tedeschi singing a strong and beautiful version of “A Song for You” by the late, great Leon Russell. Followed by a dynamic and highly improvised “Bound for Glory.”
I am sorry that I have not blogged in a while. I am working hard to finish my third Declan Murphy novel, “What Becomes.” I’ll get there soon. However, when you feel the tingle, you have to tell somebody. The Tedeschi Trucks Band must be experienced in person. If you ever have the opportunity, don’t miss it. Take the chance. They might give you the same tingle. At the least, it’ll be an incredible evening. Going to see a Tedeschi Trucks concert will put you in good company.