Audiences tuning in from across the country were left in a bittersweet moment of conflict as the Swamp Family TV drone introduced the final episode of Tedeschi Trucks Band‘s Fireside Sessions at-home performance series on Thursday. Thankful to be able to see Tedeschi Trucks Band perform again, yet anxious to know when the next chance to see the band live in person will be, Thursday’s webcast was one filled with emotion as the band packed in front of the roaring fireplace in Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi‘s cozy family den for the sixth and final episode.
As for the musicians themselves, the Tedeschi Trucks Band did not linger on sentimentalities. They do what they always do, anywhere, any time.
With the largest Fireside Sessions lineup to date, eight members of TTB took their respective positions in front of the behemoth stone mantle for the pay-per-view webcast. The vocalists were positioned in the front line with Mark Rivers on the left, Susan Tedeschi front and center, and Mike Mattison on the right. Slide guitarist virtuoso and co-bandleader Derek Trucks, bassist Brandon Boone, and keyboardist Gabe Dixon resided in the middle ground, while drummer Tyler “Falcon” Greenwell and saxophonist Kebbi Williams anchored the backline, keeping warm in front of the blazing fire.
Trucks and his slide guitar were omnipresent throughout “Laugh About It” to kick off the final Fireside Session. Derek carved a haunting slide section into the original song from 2016’s Let Me Get By before Susan commandeered the breakdown with a hearty “Put your hands up!” Derek threw down one last slide solo into the rhythmic mix before winding the song down.
Back-to-back songs from the Made Up Mind tracklisting followed with “Do I Look Worried?” preceding “Part of Me”. Trucks ripped another slide solo as the vocalists harmonized during a rhetorical “Do I Look Worried?” while Susan wielded her autographed aqua Fender Telecaster in hand for both songs. She notably gave a shout-out to the other bandmates during the silence between the two originals in saying, “Good evening, everybody. We are the Tedeschi Trucks Band and we are really happy to be playing music again. Trying to remember all of our songs, it’s been a while.”
“Hello, Ephraim, Elizabeth, Alecia. We can’t wait to get the whole band back together,” Kebbi Williams added flavorful bursts of his saxophone, which built up from intermittent punctuations to an energetic and enthusiastic barrage.
Watch the band’s opening performances from Thursday’s webcast below.
Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Laugh About It”, “Do I Look Worried”, “Part of Me” – 3/25/21
[Video: Tedeschi Trucks Band]
Mike Mattison then stepped up to the microphone to belt out a captivating take on his own composition, “Life is Crazy”. Mattison’s vocal range diversified from sweet and soulful as a church choir to the gravelly, raggedness of a battle-scarred veteran, during which Gabe Dixon wove an entrancing organ solo into the jam stew. The nearly-full house moved forward with the constant acceleration and powerful momentum that has come to be expected of this band as they debuted a new original with the working title, “Ladi Da Ladi Day”. Afterward, Susan admitted, “That’s a new song. It’s not quite done.”
The band followed the live debut by pulling out an older original from their 2011 Revelator debut album with an exceptional performance of “Don’t Let Me Slide”. The performance featured a dueling call-and-response segment which compared Derek’s 1957 Goldtop Les Paul against Susan’s ’93 Telecaster. Some married couples finish each other’s sentences. Derek and Susan finish each other’s guitar licks, passing the jam baton back and forth while picking up the next note in the scale, and combining for a multi-layered continuous solo between two guitarists.
Returning to the Let Me Get By tracklist, TTB aced another one of their older originals, “Don’t Know What It Means”. This rendition featured a sizzling guitar solo from Tedeschi, gospel-inspired vocal work between Susan, Mike Mattison, and Mark Rivers, and a frantic saxophone solo from Kebbi Williams’ corner.
Next, for the first true cover of the night, the band segued smoothly into “The Letter”. Although originally written by The Box Tops, the song was famously performed by Joe Cocker and the Mad Dogs & Englishmen. When Tedeschi Trucks Band performed a tribute to Mad Dogs and Englishmen at the third LOCKN’ Festival back in 2015 – an objectively, legendary show which will forever reside amongst the upper echelon of TTB shows – they included this cover in their repertoire after debuting it at Gathering of the Vibes that same year.
Mike Mattison took lead vocals for the second consecutive cover with a jagged, piano-laden rendition of the old blues standard “44 Blues”. The song was given lyrics in 1929 by Roosevelt “The Honeydripper” Sykes, and was notoriously revived by Howlin’ Wolf in 1954. With Tedeschi sitting out for this song, Trucks took lead and rhythm duties with his slide guitar and led a courageous charge into the song’s debut. For the second time of the night, TTB then dipped back into their debut album for a weighty performance of the fan-favorite Susan Tedeschi-led ballad, “Midnight in Harlem”. The song’s introduction built-up slow with Kebbi’s saxophone holding a forlorn note like a disoriented ship’s foghorn blaring into the mist. Dixon played a melodica in the introduction while Mattison played acoustic guitar on his own hand-crafted rhythm melodies. Derek ran his glass slide in furious patterns of interwoven precision during the build-up and let us down softly as our feet touched the ground after a wondrous 12-minute trip.
To wind down the finale, Trucks returned to his roots to lead his bandmates through a scorching hot take on the Allman Brothers Band’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”. The fourteen-minute instrumental jam wound a hellacious rollercoaster ride around ABB’s psychedelic opus. The Falcon, Gabe Dixon, Kebbi, Brandon Boone, and Derek all cut fat solos into the blazing mix, while Susan stepped away from the “stage” to stoke the smoldering logs in the background.
The band then covered Bobby “Blue” Bland‘s “I Pity the Fool” to bring the series to a close. Derek walked offstage as Susan cooked up a tasty plate of powerful guitar work and vocals that combined better than a surf n’ turf at your favorite steakhouse.
I wish I could tell you that the band will return next week for another installment of this series that was gobbled up faster than my grandma’s mac n cheese, but, alas, I cannot tell a lie. The next scheduled show for the Tedeschi Trucks band will not be until June 26th at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. After that, however, there is only a scattering of shows that remain on the agenda after being rescheduled from 2020. For the full list of scheduled dates, click here.
Until next time folks, you can find me at the local watering hole, eating chicken wings, waiting in great anticipation for confirmed dates with my crosshairs sighted towards the last weekend of June at Red Rocks.
Setlist: Tedeschi Trucks Band | Fireside Sessions Ep. 6 | 3/25/21
Set: Laugh About it, Do I Look Worried, Part of Me, Life Is Crazy (Mike Mattison cover), Ladi Da Ladi Day*, Don’t Let Me Slide, Don’t Know What it Means > The Letter (The Box Tops cover), 44 Blues (Roosevelt Sykes cover), Midnight In Harlem, In memory of Elizabeth Reed (The Allman Brothers Band cover), I Pity The Fool (Bobby “Blue” Bland cover)
* First Time Played