Mu­si­cal Com­mon Ground

Three bands con­ge­nially con­verge for ‘Wheels of Soul’ tour

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ROGERS - DEB HARVELL

One band started in 1969, one in 2004 and a third in 2010.

One band is made up of two long­time friends, one a band of broth­ers, and the third a hus­band and wife duo along with an­other 10 tal­ented mu­si­cians brought to­gether to make one team.

What do they all have in com­mon? They are all a part of the “Wheels of Soul 2017” tour that is com­ing to the Wal­mart Arkansas Mu­sic Pavil­ion on Tues­day. Each of the three groups has blues/soul roots, but each has a dis­tinct sound and his­tory.

“Real mu­sic for real people” is how Derek Trucks with the Tedeschi Trucks Band — the hus­band and wife duo — de­scribes it. And he should know.

Trucks pur­chased his first gui­tar for $5 when he was 9 years old, and by his 13th birth­day had per­formed with the All­man Broth­ers, Buddy Guy and Thun­der­hawk, to men­tion just a few. Trucks be­came a mem­ber of the All­man Broth­ers Band and with those mu­si­cians re­ceived a Grammy Life­time Achieve­ment Award. With his own band, The Derek Trucks Band, he re­ceived an­other Grammy Award for Best Con­tem­po­rary Blues Al­bum, was twice listed among the top 100 gui­tarists of all time in Rolling Stone mag­a­zine and, along with his wife, Su­san Tedeschi, per­formed at the White House for Pres­i­dent Obama and his guests. And Trucks is only 38 years old.

Trucks says that dur­ing the show, at any time, you can see a ca­ma­raderie among the three dif­fer­ent groups who find their way to the stage dur­ing the evening.

“It is mu­si­cian­ship,” he says. “At any point dur­ing any of the per­for­mances, you can look around and find mem­bers of the other groups ad­mir­ing the work of the people on the stage. It is an hon­est mu­si­cal en­tity. There are no frills, no grand­stand­ing, no BSing. The col­lab­o­ra­tions are never forced, and each feels like a lost art.”

Through­out the tour Tedeschi has taken the stage with the Wood Broth­ers, and Jack Casady and Jorma Kauko­nen of Hot Tuna may take the stage with the Tedeschi Trucks Band — or any other com­bi­na­tion of the three groups.

Hot Tuna’s Casady and Kauko­nen founded the band in 1969 dur­ing a break in Jef­fer­son Air­plane’s tour­ing sched­ule and have been per­form­ing to­gether with an eclec­tic mix in mem­ber­ship ever since — with a brief hia­tus in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

The Wood Broth­ers — the band of broth­ers — is an Amer­i­can folk group made up of broth­ers Chris and Oliver Wood and Jano Rix. The broth­ers were suc­cess­ful in their own rights be­fore work­ing on the Wood Broth­ers de­but stu­dio al­bum “Ways Not To Lose” in 2006. Their lat­est al­bum, “Live at the Barn,” was recorded live at Levon Helm Stu­dios, aka The Barn, in Wood­stock, N.Y., and dis­plays their Amer­i­cana song­writ­ing tal­ents like never be­fore.

Trucks, play­ing lead gui­tar, and Tedeschi, on lead vo­cals and rhythm gui­tar, are found­ing mem­bers of the show’s clos­ing act, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and are en­ter­ing their eighth year of per­for­mances with 10 other mem­bers: Kofi Bur­bridge, Tyler Green­well, J.J. John­son, Mike Mat­ti­son, Mark Rivers, Kebbi Wil­liams, Tim Lefebvre, Ephraim Owens, Elizabeth Lea and Ale­cia Chak­our. Only days be­fore the “Wheels of Soul 2017” tour kicked off, Bur­bridge, the group’s key­boards and flute player, un­der­went emer­gency heart surgery, and with Bur­bridge’s bless­ing, the group was for­tu­nate to en­gage a tal­ented young key­board player named Carey Frank for the tour.

“The group feels like fam­ily, es­pe­cially trav­el­ing dur­ing the summer, when the kids and ex­tended fam­ily are with us,” Trucks says.

Since its in­cep­tion Tedeschi Trucks Band has won a Grammy award for Best Blues Al­bum, twice won Band of the Year by Blues Mu­sic Awards, and twice won Rock Blues Al­bum of the year by Blues Mu­sic Awards, and was named Duo/Group of the year by Amer­i­cana Mu­sic Hon­ors.

Asked what his dream project would be, Trucks says: “I guess you could say I’m liv­ing it.”


The Tedeschi Trucks Band — a hus­band and wife duo along with an­other 10 tal­ented mu­si­cians brought to­gether to make one team — will head­line the Wheels of Soul 2017 tour Tues­day at the Wal­mart AMP.

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