STORY BY CHRIS CAMERON
For Digital First Media
The Tedeschi Trucks Band will bring its 11-piece powerhouse blues/soul ensemble to Reading this year as part of the Berks Jazz Fest. The band helmed by husband Derek Trucks and wife Susan Tedeschi is currently touring behind “Made Up Mind,” a strong follow-up to their 2011 debut, “Revelator,” which one the group a Grammy for Best Blues Album.
After two successful studio albums, the band already has plenty of new material and is planning to release its third album in early 2016. One of The Tedeschi Trucks Band’s biggest concerns is performing new material live in the meantime.
“The tricky thing is avoiding playing all the new material,” Tedeschi said. “In the old days you’d record a song and they’d be pressing it and playing it on the radio that same night. It’s a long drawn out process now.”
The band is mixing in a variety of covers into its shows and sometimes the covers are planned well in advance, but many times they’re the result of the group messing around during a sound check.
The band has built its reputation on its live performance and handles on stage improvisation as effortlessly as their musical heroes. Tedeschi grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Lightin’ Hopkins, Sam Cooke, and James Brown to name a few.
She grew up in Massachusetts and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she sang gospel with the choir. Trucks is the nephew of The Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks and a former guitarist for the band. He was sharing the stage and rubbing elbows with guitar legends like BB King and Eric Clapton before he was shaving. Derek Trucks recently left The Allmans to focus solely on TTB.
“When we play a song like, ‘The Storm,’ there are a hundred different directions that song could go,” Tedeschi said. “Sometimes it turns into a Led Zeppelin jam. Our ability to transition and improvise so well together on stage makes the band special.”
A true musical collective, TTB brings Tedeschi and Trucks together with several long-time friends and musical partners including singers Mike Mattison (lead singer with The Derek Trucks Band) and Mark Rivers, keyboardist/flutist Kofi Burbridge (also from The Derek Trucks Band), a pair of drummers J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell, and a horn-section with trumpeter Maurice Brown, tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams, trombonist Saunders Sermons, and their newest member, bassist, Tim Lefbvre.
“We’ve become tighter and have more flexibility in the band since Tim joined,” Tedeschi said. “He really connects with Derek and Kofi and he changed the chemistry of the band.”
When Trucks and Tedeschi met, she was touring with the late Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band, Double Trouble. Trucks was playing with The Allmans and Tedeschi was the opener.
TTB formed in 2010 when Trucks and Tedeschi left their respective solo careers to join forces, allowing them to spend more time on the road together, and ultimately more time with their children. The couple resides in Jacksonville, Florida, and takes their children on the road during the summer.
Trucks wasn’t nervous about their musical collaboration, but Tedeschi had her reservations. Up until that point she had always led her own band and she was nervous about giving up creative control.
“I remember someone wrote that I was his Yoko Ono,” she said. “I was like ‘really?’
“Derek has a great attitude about it—he’s not ruled by what others say.”
While not technically a jazz band, The Tedeschi Trucks Band will fit in nicely with the lineup for this year’s Berks Jazz Fest. They believe in taking creative chances with their music and feed off one another’s creative license both on the stage and in the studio. Never ones to disappoint, TTB will have plenty of surprises during their set.
“We’re not stagnant and we keep reinventing ourselves,” Tedeschi said.
IF YOU GO: The Tedeschi Trucks Band performs with Kristina Train at The Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading on April 17 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $40-$75. Visit www.ticketmaster.com for tickets or for information about the band at www.tedeschitrucksband.com.