Tedeschi Trucks Band and Ziggy Marley in Bridgeport
Here’s a humble suggestion to any corporation, organization, or youth sports squad out there: Collect your group and go to a Tedeschi Trucks Band concert. For what you will experience is the conscious pursuit and effect of twelve people working together as one to achieve a level of unparalleled satisfaction, and subsequently, greatness. Across more than two hours on a sultry Friday in July, America’s finest rock-and-roll big band, through the power of sharing, succeeded joyously.
For over a decade now, the married couple- Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks- that leads the dozen-strong ensemble has preached, tacitly and by example, that it’s the third word in their moniker that means the most: Band. And even though Tedeschi’s guitar is as blue as it can be, and her voice, the definition of honeysuckle soul, and even though Trucks is, undeniably, one of the more exquisitely talented guitarists ever to walk the planet, the two, more often than not, slip into the shadows of the stage and insist the light shine elsewhere.
At the show’s start, on a sizzling opening rendition of Joe Cocker’s “Woman to Woman,” Tedeschi arrived onstage a few bars into the number, to a rousing ovation from the near-capacity house. Then, the band pared down to a six-piece, throwing down the throwback to Trucks’ tenure in The Allman Brothers Band, for “Statesboro Blues, and an even louder response from the Bridgeport masses. From there, the full band reassembled for a trio of tunes from the band’s most recent album, I Am The Moon.
That epochal, quadruple-album epic released last summer- and these first three of several songs in the set in support- embody TTB’s ever-evolving artistic ambition (and a shift to larger venues and new management), and epitomize its communal contributions; the darker groove of “Playing With My Emotions;” the title track led by keyboardist, Gabe Dixon; and the meditative, “Where Are My Friends?” with Mike Mattison on acoustic guitar and lead vocal.
There was the back-to-back ‘Keep On’ duo- Wet Willie’s “Keep On Smilin’” and Derek and the Dominos’ “Keep On Growing”- with the latter launched into the cosmos on the interstellar sax of Kebbi Williams. Or Elizabeth Lea’s trombone ecstasy on another Moon cut, “Ain’t That Something.” Or singer Marc Rivers beautiful approach in joining Tedeschi for the uplifting ballad, “Take Me As I Am.”
Tedeschi and Trucks’ grips on the blues propelled the evening’s second-half, bringing the Connecticut house down with a stretch of guitar-playing that was simply mesmerizing. Highlights came fast and furiously; first on “Outside Woman Blues,” and then Tedeschi’s command of Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Workin’,” then by Trucks’ breathtaking virtuosity of a Mattison-led “Leaving Truck” that slid into the chillingly good, “Volunteered Slavery.” There was Ephraim Owens’ trumpet soaring over the top, and Brandon Boone’s deceptively smooth bass holding the terra firma on the opposite end, and the twin-drumming cyclone of Tyler ‘Falcon’ Greenwell and Isaac Eady that stirred up and buttoned down everything in between.
Yet, two of the better moments- and there were so many- came towards closing time. On the outro of the set-finale, there was Alecia Chakour’s goosebump-inducing vocal on “Bound for Glory.” And for the encore, TTB’s dozen welcomed six from the ensemble of the opener, Ziggy Marley, for a show-ending conflagration of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song/ I Want to Take You Higher.”
Marley’s hour-long support set at dusk was not to be forgotten, as the effable reggae icon bounced through a taut, 15-song performance. Threaded with songs of unbreakable love, pointed political commentary, and a few cap-tips to his father, Marley was a dynamo of vibration, almost possessed. Peaks for the singer and his exceptional band included a string of “Justice” into “Get Up Stand Up” into “War” and back again that earned a standing ovation.
After the TTB/Marley closing super-jam, as the house lights came up, there was one last beautiful snapshot. The eighteen musicians collected, casually, in the wings. They didn’t break off, individually, to their backstage rooms, but instead gathered- exchanging hugs and smiles, and gratitude- in the afterglow of the joyous music and community they had shared as one.