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Wheels of Soul Visits Rose Music Center at the Heights

Photo by Maureen Murphy-Weiss

If your editor demanded you write one less-than-positive thing about the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s July 22 concert in Huber Heights, you’d probably say their 100-minute set was so incendiary as to make hot performances by the the Wood Brothers and Hot Tuna seem almost like afterthoughts.

But then, you’d also have to point out that Tedeschi Trucks alleviated that by bringing their guests on stage for fiery versions of the Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Virginia” and Elmore James’ “The Sky is Crying,” respectively, thus angering said editor.

The Woods’ sit-in resulted in 15 musicians sharing the stage and never stepping on one another as Oliver Wood, Susan Tedeschi and Mike Mattison shared verses on the Stones favorite. Hot Tuna, meanwhile, joined TTB – sans background singers and horns – in an innovative, three-guitar, two-bass, two-drums and keys lineup that found Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and Jorma Kaukonen trading solos as Tedeschi wailed James’ words and made the sadness of the song feel like a glorious, joyful despair – like the best blues numbers are supposed to be.

The Wheels of Soul rolled into the Rose Music center on a sultry Saturday night and was capped by Tedeschi Trucks’ typical blend of covers and original numbers. The 12-headed musical monster cranked out self-penned killers like “Don’t Know What it Means” and “Anyhow” and show-stopping favorites such as Derek and the Dominos’ “Keep on Growing” and the dichotomous encore of Leon Russell’s “Song for You,” which found Tedeschi giving substitute keyboard player Carey Frank (sitting in the for the ailing Kofi Burbridge) a chance to shine as the two shared the stage alone, and the full-band version of Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned” that followed.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band is a group that features two of today’s most electrifying guitarists in the namesake band leaders; a locomotive three-piece rhythm section; a fat horn section of virtuosic players; and a two-man, one-woman corps of supporting vocalists that wouldn’t be handing backup for anyone besides the brass-throated Tedeschi. Sounding like an amalgamation of Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Sly and the Family Stone, with Trucks nightly demonstrating what Duane Allman might have become had he lived longer, the Tedeschi Trucks Band is part revue, part self-composing music machine that cranks out as much energy as a coal-fired power station.

The evening’s middle slot was occupied by the Wood Brothers—guitarist Oliver, his brother Chris on harp and upright and Hoffner violin basses, and Jano Rix, who plays a kit, shuitar, melodica and a cornucopia of percussive implements to give the trio a sound like no other musical outfit.

Their 45-minute daylight set was enthusiastically received by the shimmying fans as the TTB singers joined in for a righteous gospel tune and Chris Wood danced with his big bass with such enthusiasm during the intro to “Snake Eyes” that he slipped to the stage and laughed at himself. “Tried and Tempted,” “Postcards from Hell” and other Woods’ originals were featured as the trio proved you can mix rock ‘n’ roll and bluegrass and folk and ragtime and come up with something that still sounds natural and cohesive.

The legendary Hot Tuna, the gritty blues band spun off from Jefferson Airplane some 50 years ago and anchored, as always, by guitarist Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady, kicked things off just before 7 p.m. with a swampy electric set accompanied by a drummer.

The trio seemed to just be getting warmed up when its allotted 45 minutes expired – leaving the audience hungry for more of Kaukonen’s authentic, early-20th-century blues fingerpicking and vocalizing and Casady’s alternatively in-the-pocket and lead bass playing.

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