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Concert Reviews:
Tedeschi Trucks Band steers Wheels Of Soul straight at Meadow Brook
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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ROCHESTER HILLS -- The Tedeschi Trucks Band has been a dependable trademark of musical quality -- and high quality, at that -- during the past five or six years. And the group didn't let that slide during its performance on Tuesday night, June 23, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival.

Led as always by the slide guitar firepower of Derek Trucks and wife Susan Tedeschi's powerhouse vocals (and not-too-shabby guitar skills in her own right), the group delivered yet another exposition of organic, expansive, anything-goes music-making over the course of its 12-song, hour-and-45-minute set on Tuesday that drew local musicians such as Thornetta Davis and Brett Lucas. The other 10 members -- including two drummers, three horn players and three backing vocalists, are hardly support players, mind you; they had plenty of chance to shine, whether it was Mike Mattison singing lead on the Derek Trucks Band's "Get What You Deserve" or keyboardist Kofi Burbridge lighting up an epic "Idle Wind" with his flute.

But on Tuesday it was clear -- again, as always -- that they're there primarily to frame Tedeschi and Trucks, both of whom were in top form. Sporting a bushy, Amish-style beard Trucks let his virtuoistic solos scream (on Betty Harris' "There's a Break in the Road," "Get What You Deserve," and "The Storm") and cry ("Midnight in Harlem") with influences from rock, jazz and R&B, as well as from past employers such as the Allman Brothers Band and Eric Clapton. "Made Up Mind," the title track from TTB's 2013 album, was its jittery, joyous self, while the group also premiered "Anyhow," a soulful new showcase for Tedeschi that's targeted for the group's third album.

TTB has always played nice with others, too, and its summer trek, dubbed the Wheels Of Soul Tour, offered plenty of opportunities for that. Texas guitar hero Doyle Bramhall II, who opened the evening and is working on the new TTB album, traded solos with Trucks on Elmore James' "The Sky is Crying" and Derek and the Dominos' "Keep On Growing." And for the encore, Bramhall and Sharon Jones, with most of her Dap-Kings in tow, tore through Etta James' "Tell Mama" and a fiery Sly & the Family Stone medley of "Sing a Single Song" and "I Want To Take You Higher" with all 19 musicians playing in tight tandem.

Jones and the Dap-Kings held up their end of the Wheels Of Soul axle, too, blowing through a hot 75 minutes of old school soul that included a pair of Motown-pleasing covers of Gladys Knight & the Pips' arrangement of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "In Every Beat of My Heart." In her fringed dress, Jones proved that she's left pancreatic cancer in her rearview mirror, performing with abundant energy and plenty of attitude -- and shining on her usual dance demonstrating that found her whipping through the Pony, the Jerk, the Twist, the Mashed Potato and others almost faster that you could keep count.

The always solid Dap-Kings propelled Jones through a selection of her favorites, including "Stranger To My Happiness," "Slow Down Love," "Get Up and Get Out" and "100 Days, 100 Nights," and the group's rendition of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" left the Meadow Brook crowd assured that America, and American R&B music, is in some pretty good hands with this crew.



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