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Published: 2012/09/13
by Larson Sutton

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA – 9/5

photo by Larry Hulst

When the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s late-summer tour was slated to be a double-bill, with blues master B.B. King opening on many of the dates, guitarist Derek Trucks called it, “spiritually wrong.” No way should he and his 11-piece band be the headliner following such an influential and accomplished musical legend. Yet, that was the way King, approaching 87-years-old, wanted it, and kings tend to get their way. On this humid Los Angeles evening, however, the octogenarian bluesman from Mississippi took his slot in the spotlight and swapped spots with the TTB for Blues Night at the Hollywood Bowl presented by the LA Philharmonic.

Opening the festivities at 8 p.m. sharp, the Tedeschi Trucks Band entered without introduction to polite applause as many of the 11,000 in attendance were still finding seats. “Don’t Let Me Slide,” from the Grammy-winning Revelator album launched the 70-minute set with a burst, then quieting to a near hush as just the trio of horns’ staccato pops dovetailed into the “Swamp Raga” intro from this year’s Everybody’s Talkin’ live collection, itself a bridge to the magical “Midnight in Harlem.” It is here that the depth and emotion of Trucks’ guitar work remains unparalleled, on an extended solo that built to a heartbreaking peak before the dénouement of a delicate decrescendo. The rollickingly appropriate “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” followed, echoing the evening’s genre emphasis with Tedeschi’s Delta-drenched riffs accompanying her shredded-voice vocals.

Welcoming two guests, songwriter/guitarist David Ryan Harris and trumpeter Rashawn Ross, the ensemble swelled for an impassioned rendition of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” dedicated to the late Levon Helm. It was a poignant moment for the mostly middle-aged to aging boomer audience, paused only for a song, Revelator’s “Love Has Something Else to Say,” before the group dipped back into yesteryear on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass lost gem, “Wah-Wah.” A typically daring move for this band to take on such classic-rock icons, and to succeed with the musicianship and reverence for the material they each possess.

Background singer Mike Mattison took his turn fronting the rumbling “Get What You Deserve,” leading to a soul-infused band-introductions vamp led by trombonist Saunders Sermons. A churning “That Did It” had Tedeschi gaveling some six-string justice prior to set-closer “Bound for Glory,” a buoyant rocker showcasing snapping horns, the sibling-tight interplay of keyboardist Kofi and bassist Oteil Burbridge, and guitar virtuosity of Trucks, all backed by the drum duo of J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell.

What felt like a performance that could’ve gone on much longer, the Tedeschi Trucks Band showed itself to be a group that understood its role. While much of the extended improvisation of Everybody’s Talkin’ was shelved in favor of leaner, tighter takes, the resulting 10-song sampler was more than enough to dazzle the denizens of Southern California. The complementary freedom, joyous expressions, and ample respect the Tedeschi Trucks Band continually demonstrates make clear as to why The King of the Blues had no reservations about sharing the throne.

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