The king and queen of swamp rock, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi of Tedeschi Trucks Band, brought their slimmed-down act back into their living room for the second episode of The Fireside Sessions. To begin the session, drone footage overshot the surrounding trees and settled outside the band’s barn for a scenic establishing shot. As the video moved inside the cozy den, a new member expanded last week’s core four into a quintet. Gabe Dixon—and his rig of perpendicular keyboards—sat to the wing of Tedeschi on stage left, which complemented, symmetrically and musically, with Trucks and bassist Brandon Boone on the stage right wing. Tyler “Falcon” Greenwell held down the backline, directly in front of the roaring fire.
With another bleak year absent of scheduled shows on the horizon, (“Yet-so-far!” The optimist might interject as we pray for better days ahead), Thursdays have already become the best night of the week for rock and roll music enthusiasts.
Kicking the stream off, Trucks began wailing out the introduction to “Whiskey Legs”. After the rockin’ tune from 2013’s Made Up Mind, Susan shelved her Les Paul to welcome their first guest to the “farm.” Multi-talented vocalist Mike Mattison emerged from the side stage to take a seat with an acoustic guitar for the debut cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne”. Mattison played rhythm guitar while Susan’s vocals shone like the stars on a moonless night. Though written by Cohen, the song has been recorded by Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, and Nina Simone, whose version Susan admits to loving after the performance.
Tedeschi Trucks Band — “Whiskey Legs”, “Suzanne” (Leonard Cohen) –Fireside Sessions — 2/25/21
[Video: Tedeschi Trucks Band]
Mattison removed the guitar and led the sextet through Sleepy John Estes’ “Leaving Trunk” with his gravelly vocals. Trucks’ slide guitar bled into a sizzling solo from Susan before Dixon carved out his niche. Derek took last licks with a tremendous slide solo that built up into a momentous finish. Another debut came in the form of a new original entitled “Here My Dear”. The emotionally-charged composition featured steadily building momentum woven around Susan’s divine vocal work. For the song’s first performance, Mattison was back on acoustic rhythm guitar.
Returning to more familiar territory, Mike stood up to exchange vocals with Tedeschi for “High and Mighty”. Featured on 2019’s eponymous EP, the title song’s tumultuous rhythms and diverse melodies gave each member a chance to batten down the hatches collectively as a unit. Next, Mattison remained on his feet to lead the band through a frenzied take on “Get What You Deserve”, a fan favorite from the Derek Trucks Band catalog. The combination of Boone’s rolling bass, Derek’s furious fingers, and Mikey’s enigmatic vocals made it impossible to remain seated without responding to the band’s wild energy.
Remaining true to their roots in the Allman Brothers Band family, Dixon took lead vocals for a blues-infused rendition of Gregg Allman’s “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’”. The condensed version captured the tight-knit unit matching Derek Trucks’ slide guitar for as long as they could until he soared higher and higher, his wings melting as the song concluded.
Defying reality, Derek harmonized his slide guitar with Dixon’s church organ for a sacred introduction to “Bound for Glory”. Off 2011’s Revelator, the band delved triumphantly into the classic cut with their experience evident in every sweeping movement. Dixon astounded with a dazzling solo before Mike and Susan harmonized their formidable vocals. Throughout the night, Derek and Susan exchanged warm, loving glances with sly smiles cemented on their faces.
Back-to-back covers wound the set down with a forlorn version of Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces” preceding Leonard and Jane Feather’s “How Blue Can You Get?”, which saw Susan play a dirty blues solo that would have made B.B. King proud. King not only recorded a well-known version of the tune, but his signature is also emblazoned largely above the fretboard of Susan’s teal Fender Telecaster alongside John Lee Hooker and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s autographs.
To wrap up the second chapter of Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Fireside Sessions, Susan dusted off “Gonna Move” from her 2002 Wait for Me album. The song was written by the late blind singer and musician Paul Pena and was the opening track on his second album, 1973’s New Train. This marked only the fifth time that Tedeschi Trucks Band performed this tune (although both Derek Trucks Band and Susan Tedeschi Band featured it more often in their setlists) with the last time played being in the summer of 2008.
After acknowledging again how bad they wish they could hit the road, the credits that rolled featured a more extensive list of the Tedeschi Trucks Band family including the full band and crew and even a “Production Baby” and a “Production Dog” listed.
The band returns next Thursday, March 5th for the third installment of Fireside Sessions with unknown members featured in the lineup. Stay healthy and well, folks, as the weather warms and we look with hope towards the future.
Setlist: Tedeschi Trucks Band | Fireside Sessions | 2/25/21
Set: Whiskey Legs, Suzanne (Leonard Cohen) , Leaving Trunk (Sleepy John Estes), Here My Dear , High & Mighty, Get What You Deserve, Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ (Gregg Allman), Bound for Glory, Somebody Pick Up My Pieces (Willie Nelson), How Blue Can You Get? (Leonard & Jan Feather), Gonna Move