Last night, for the fourth consecutive Thursday, the Swamp Family TV drone hovered over the Tedeschi/Trucks home to welcome viewers back to the Fireside Sessions. Unlike the last episode, which took place inside the family’s converted studio barn, the fourth episode of the Tedeschi Trucks Band live performance streaming series returned to the spacious den we saw in Episode 1 and Episode 2.
Each of the first three installments featured a different, pared-down iteration of the typical 12-piece TTB lineup. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi appeared with bassist Brandon Boone and drummer Tyler “Falcon” Greenwell as a quartet for week one, then added keyboardist Gabe Dixon for week two. Last week, the husband-and-wife pair at the core of the band played an intimate set as a duo. For week four, viewers were greeted by the quintet lineup from Episode 2 along with the welcome addition of vocalists Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers flanking the band on either side, a flame quietly flickering in the titular fireplace behind them.
Half an hour before showtime, the band shared photos of the Episode 4 lineup casually enjoying themselves on the property around an outdoor fire pit. The chilly, Floridian winter was evident from the heavy coats, beanies, and Falcon’s commendable Tipi fire-building method.
Getting down to it, Derek softly strummed his fretboard before Susan belted out the introductory notes of “Anyhow”, the opening track of 2016’s Let Me Get By. Derek was beaming while weaving his glass slide’s notes around Susan’s guitar solos. Her vocals coalesced with Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers in glorious fashion, setting the tone for the night of music ahead.
Tedeschi Trucks Band (Septet) – “Anyhow” – Fireside Sessions Ep. 4 – 3/11/21
[Video: Tedeschi Trucks Band]
“Well, this is fun, getting to play during the daytime,” Susan admitted before Derek’s slide and cherry Gibson SG led the band through “When Will I Begin”. The track from 2019’s Signs featured a sweet call-and-response between Derek’s slide and Susan’s vocals as Mattison pulled up a chair and grabbed an acoustic guitar to add some rhythmic texture.
Mattison shelved his guitar next and stood up to take lead vocals on Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out of My Life, Woman”. Due to the song’s roots in the Derek Trucks Band repertoire, Mike Mattison’s gravelly vocals found their experienced way through the harmonies like a blind hermit navigating a familiar dwelling. Passing the baton around, Susan and Gabe each took solos before ceding the spotlight to Trucks who, refusing to yield, jammed the song to its natural conclusion.
Displaying once more the band’s deep-seated love of the blues, Mark Rivers stepped offstage and gave Mikey’s energetic vocals more space to continue what they had started with “Key to the Highway”. Prominent versions of the blues standard have been recorded by Little Walter, Eric Clapton, and Derek Trucks Band, and Clapton has played versions with everyone from B.B. King to the Allman Brothers Band. With Mattison at the helm, TTB’s version shines as brightly as any. Derek stepped away to feed the fire as Susan began unleashing a killer guitar solo. Bassist Brandon Boone and Susan stood idly as Derek built an incredible slide solo around a bare bones percussive rhythm. Mattison threw down one final verse before yet another powerful call-and-response section, Derek and Susan trading scorching licks as Boone refereed the duel in stunned disbelief.
After Susan and Mattison left the stage, Derek swapped guitars in favor of his 1957 Goldtop Les Paul (a similar guitar was utilized by Duane Allman) and rumbled through a new instrumental jam with the working title, “Pasaquan”. Falcon took a sip off coffee and powered through percussive rhythms reminiscent of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Mountain Jam”. Boone, Dixon, Falcon, and Trucks rolled down the tracks like a locomotive before Gabe cut out an organ solo amongst the beautiful madness. Brandon Boone stepped up next to walk his metronomic fingers across his fretboard before Trucks ended the roller coaster ride with a combination of swaying rhythms and lightning finger work while Susan reappeared in the background to feed and stoke the fire.
As Derek returned to his cherry Gibson SG and Susan leafed through sheets of music, Mike Mattison returned, seated with his acoustic guitar in hand, to lead the band through the debut of his newly written composition, “Heart of the Matter”. Susan stood center stage, guitarless, to sing backup vocals on the wistful tune (“Where are my friends? / Is it my concern? // Did they catch some / wild wisdom / I could never learn // I wanna get back / to the general pop // I loved a few people / but not a lot”).
Next, Susan picked up her trusted Fender Stratocaster and took lead vocals on “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” The Eric Clapton tune was featured on the acclaimed Derek and the Dominos album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, and has been a live staple for both the Tedeschi Trucks Band and the Allman Brothers Band. Derek built bridges spanning indeterminable distances between the verses with an engineer’s eye for structural integrity and a sculptor’s precision. Mark Rivers tapped the tambourine and added to the percussive beat.
After Derek stepped offstage, Susan Tedeschi delivered an emotionally charged cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”. Mark Rivers and Mike Mattison supplemented the song with vocal harmonies from the wings before Gabe Dixon’s pure piano tone opened the gates of heaven for the listeners.
To close out the fourth installment of the Fireside Sessions, the Tedeschi Trucks Band septet dove into frequent live go-to “I Wish I knew How It Feels To Be Free”. The Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas composition was popularized by Nina Simone, though notable recordings were also made by John Denver, Levon Helm, John Legend and The Roots, as well as countless other artists. Derek’s slide guitar, Susan’s soaring vocals, and Mike Mattison’s powerhouse voice meshed gloriously, but it was Mark Rivers who stole the show with his frenzied, gospel-style vocal breakdown.
Susan voiced a common thought and assured the audience that the other Tedeschi Trucks Band members (Ephraim Owens, Kebbi Williams, Alecia Chakour, Elizabeth Lea) are “still in the band, we promise. We just can’t get them here because of Covid, but we miss them so much and we can’t wait ‘til we’re all back together. Until next time, stay good, stay healthy. Peace.”
The credits rolled and gave thanks to the full band, management, and crew behind the scenes as well as the Nugs.tv production staff. The Tedeschi Trucks Band Fireside Sessions will continue next Thursday, March 18th with the series’ fifth installment. The lineup and setting are still a mystery, but I’m still hoping for a bare-bones kitchen set with Mikey and Susan singing while cooking and Falcon banging on random kitchenware (pots and pans, cups on counters, etc). As always, Susan and Derek would captivate. Whatever they do and wherever they’ll be, I’ll support this band. Their souls are full of music and they always share their abundant knowledge generously and lovingly.
Setlist: Tedeschi Trucks Band | Fireside Sessions Ep. 4 | 3/11/21
Anyhow, When Will I Begin, Get Out My Life Woman, Key To The Highway, Pasaquan^, Heart Of The Matter^, Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?, Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, I Wish I Knew How It Feels to be Free
View this post on Instagram