Musical Common Ground
Three bands congenially converge for ‘Wheels of Soul’ tour
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.