After a wet cold morning, The Rock Strong 4 Life Benefit on Saturday turned out to be a perfect evening at Popa John’s Stadium. The sun came out just in time to warm up the 1000 plus audience and The Tedeschi Trucks Bandtook over from there to deliver a performance that may have been the best show to play Louisville this year.
As husband-wife couples go in the world of music, it is a challenge to find a duo as well-fitted and naturally prolific as that of singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi and guitarist Derek Trucks. They are both heavily steeped in the blues tradition, yet open to far-ranging influences including rock, gospel, jazz and World music. Each has produced recordings that share a sensibility best described as a swampy mix of rootsy, rockin’ American music. The two have guested on each other’s albums, toured together intermittently, and last year they each received individual Grammy nominations in the category of “Best Contemporary Blues Album” for their 2009 albums, Tedeschi for Back To The River and Trucks for Already Free (which he won). As well, they often perform together with the Allman Brothers Band—with whom Trucks continues to play as co-lead guitarist.
From the opening number , “Don’t Let Me Slide” it was obvious the this would be a special night. The combination ofSusan Tedeschi’s stunning vocals and Derek Trucks extraordinary guitar, lead a spectacular eleven-member ensemble overflowing with talent and musical familiarity. Harmony singers Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers joined forces with brothers Oteil Burbridge (noted for his years as bassist with the Allman Brothers Band) and Kofi Burbridge (longtime keyboardist/flutist with The Derek Trucks Band),along with a pair of drummers J. J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell, The band also included a brass section consisting of trumpeter Maurice Brown, tenor saxophonist Kebbi Williams, and trombonist Saunders Sermons.
The band’s set included many songs from their critically acclaimed “Revelator” album along with powerful versions of Delaney and Bonnie’s , “Coming Home”, “Uptight” and a moving version of Derek and the Domino’s, “ Anyday” that included two chilling guitar solos from Trucks.
Derek Trucks is unquestionably one of the top guitar players in the world. He was selected by Eric Clapton to record on his albums, “The Road to Escondido” and “Clapton” touring with him in 2007. An amazing slide player who rivals Duane Allman, the man who he now covers in The Allman Brother Band. Trucks handles his task with ease and on this night he consistently received standing ovations for his artistic solos. The 32 year old was rated 81st in the 2003Rolling Stone Top 100 guitarist of all time at the age of 24, and was selected in 2007 as one of three New Guitar Godsby the magazine.
During the course of the performance each member gets their time in the spotlight. Kofi Burbridge played an jam filled keyboard and flute solo, while his brother bassist Oteil played and sang a jazzy solo showing his range of both vocals and instrument. There were solos by each drummer and brass member as well. Every member showing the high level of expertise on their instruments.
Although her husband’s guitar playing stands out Susan Tedeschi can play a mean guitar herself contributing with a solo that had Derek smiling with pride. They ended the show with their latest hit song, “Bound For Glory” and returned for an encore had everyone dancing to a musical medley of Sly Stone’s Simple Song and I Want To Take You Higher”
The proceeds of the event were donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Organizer Dewayne Rudd and the event committee should be commended for this effort to help find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.
The concert capped an entire day of awareness for the genetic disease that affects 30,000 people in the United States and over 70,000 people worldwide. Prior to the concert, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation hosted the “Climb for Life Event” in the morning in whichUniversity of Louisville football players and Head Coach Charlie Strong welcomed the CF supporters walking the steps at Cardinal Stadium to raise money for a cure.