The Tedeschi Trucks Band, an 11-piece blues-rock musical collective led by the husband and wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, is quickly becoming one of the most acclaimed live acts on the road today.
Formed in 2010, the group has been touring constantly, headlining shows at the Newport Jazz Festival, while performing with the likes of B.B. King and the Black Crowes.
The group, performing in Moncton at Casino New Brunswick on Wednesday night, is touring in support of Made Up Mind. Its newest record debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart, earning almost unanimous praise from critics and fans alike.
Prior to forming the Tedeschi Trucks Band, both Derek and Susan were each well-known artists in their own right. Over the course of her solo career, the Massachusetts-born Tedeschi released more than a half-dozen albums, nabbing multiple Grammy Award nominations along the way.
At the age of 19, Derek joined the famed Allman Brothers Band while also fronting his own group, the Derek Trucks Band.
Derek says that the idea of joining forces in a musical sense was something that he and Susan had bandied about but had never intently pursued until each of them saw an opening to do so.
“From the very beginning, probably from the time we met, I think that putting a band together was something that in the back of our minds,” he says. “The problem, and I hesitate to call it a problem, was that each of us were deep into our solo careers. The timing was just never right for us.
“We really didn’t have the time to think about anything other than keeping our respective bands rolling along. There came a point however, where my work with the Allmans was slowing down quite a bit and my solo band was in a good place. The opportunity to finally put a band together kind of crept up on us. It was very much a ‘now or never’ kind of moment. We were each young enough to take on the task of starting a new band together but we were also mature enough to make it work.”
Timing was everything, he says, noting that despite making a name for himself with the Allmans and the Derek Trucks Band, he was worried that he was getting a little too comfortable. What better way to shake things up than to move forward with a completely new project and taking on new challenges.
“My band was rolling along really well but it was important for me not to get stuck in any kind of rut, no matter how much people like us or how good we are perceived to be,” he says. “I reached a point where I felt as though the growth of the band had slowed and didn’t want to reach a point where there was an expectation that we would play certain songs for the rest of our lives.”
After making the decision to avoid material from their respective careers, Derek says that the process of moving forward became a relatively easy one. Neither he nor Susan were concerned about how the Tedeschi Trucks Band would be received by their fans. They simply set about making the music they wanted to make.
“I learned a long time ago to not worry about what people think,” Derek laughs.
Music can be, for all intents and purposes, a rather selfish endeavour. Rather than simply making the music that people expected them to make, much of Tedeschi Trucks appeal comes from the very fact that its sound is so broad. Mixing elements of rock, blues, funk and gospel is as much for the band members’ benefit as the audience’s.
“We have an 11-piece band with so many talented people and great musical minds sharing the stage with us,” Derek says. “Performing such a wide range of music keeps everyone concerned interested. We are constantly discussing how to make the songs better night after night.”
With the benefit of more than three years of performing as a band under their belts, Derek says the process of making the group’s latest record, Made Up Mind, was considerably more natural than the recording of its 2011 album Revelator.
“When we were making our debut, the band was kind of being birthed while we were in the studio,” he says. “I think we knew there was an immense amount of potential between all of us. But in the last few years of being on the road, we have shared a lot of experiences and seen how good the band can be so there was a lot more trust between us when we were making our latest record. It felt good right out of the gate, as though we had hit the ground running.”
With another 11 shows booked following its Wednesday night performance in Moncton, 2014 is already looking to be a busy year for the group. In addition to a run of shows in its native United States, the group is also slated to perform in India and Europe.
Asked how he and Susan balance being parents to two children while also maintaining such a hectic tour schedule, Derek says that they are fortunate to have the help of his in-laws for the time that they are on the road.
“We try not to be away from home too much but we try to keep things as normal as we can for them,” he says. “When we are on tour, Susan’s parents, who just live down the street from us, move into our house to help keep the kids in our home. It is definitely difficult at times but what looms even larger every time we go out is that I feel as though the clock is ticking against us. Pretty soon, Susan and I won’t be in the cool club anymore as far as our kids are concerned.”
What: Tedeschi Trucks Band
When: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $39 plus taxes and service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone 1-866-943-8849 and online casinonb.ca
Article published in the November 18, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript