Rock n Roll Repast: TTB in Indy

Posted: July 20th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | 3 Comments »

I’m a rock n roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. And opinionations. Here’s the latest.

This one’s a short trip with Mr. Peabody in the Wayback Machine.

Back to last Saturday night in Indy where I heard the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

While walking out of that two and a half hour dream of a show in the great outdoor pavilion downtown in White River State Park, I thought “that’’s the best live performance of music I’ve ever attended.”

Which feeling, as many incredible concerts I’ve been blessed to experience through the decades, I can’t recall saying. Favorite? Yes. Top Ten? Yes. But never singular best. TTB was great just a few months ago at JazzFest, but nothing like this.

Acknowledging my propensity for hyperbole and my belief TTB is the best performing rock band extant — my favorite musical ensemble — I’ve attempted in the days since to objectively assess my subjective opinion. As much as that’s possible.

So, before getting to the show’s highlights, allow me to share the critical criteria used to vet my judgement.

Are the band members top shelf musicians, and do they fit together seamlessly? Check. Check.

Were they on top of their game, taking their repertoire to fresh, uncharted levels? Check.

Were the improvisations inspired and devoid of indulgence? Check.

Were there surprises? Check.

Were the band and the crowd locked in, feeding off each other’s energy? Check. Check.

The band opened with a killer version of Dr. John’s “I Walk on Gilded Splinters,” which they start with deep mysterious bayou chant by Susan Tedeschi and the group’s other singers, Mike Mattison, Alecia Chakour and Mark Rivers.

The crowd from the front row to the lawn up the hill jumped to its feet. And remained so for the entirety of the show.

On the next tune, “Do I Look Worried,” Derek Trucks incendiary solo had folks screaming about a third of the way through. Not only the dudes in Eat A Peach t-shirts, also seventysomething women dressed to the nines.

Those interactions between crowd and performers never abated. The band knew they were on. They couldn’t stop smiling at faces in the crowd and also at what each other were doing during moments in the spotlight.

There are times during TTB shows when the horn section — Kebbi Williams on sax, Elizabeth Lea on trombone, Ephraim Owens on trumpet — do what I call “going Ornette Coleman.” Jazzy sometime dissonant honks and squeaks. Normally, even the most fawning TTB crowds will simply indulge such fare, biding time until the rockin’ returns. Not Saturday, when there were screams of appreciation.

Of the many of their own tunes they played, “I Am the Moon” and the sublime “Midnight in Harlem” with a concise mood-setting intro by Trucks were, dare I say, bliss-inducing soothing moments of calm.

(The visual quality of some of these videos is not the best. I don’t do videos at concerts. Though I appreciate those who do. I stay present and immersed. I take off my glasses, listen, and, as Saturday, dance.)

Oh yeah, they also did the Allman’s “Dreams,” with a sweet Trucks intro, punctuated by Gabe Dixon on the B3. At which point, I said to myself, “they’re not going to give me a break tonight, are they?”

(The video I originally posted of Dreams at this particular show has gone private. But, I love the tune so much, here’s another live version from a couple weeks earlier.)

A cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” morphed into the Dead’s “Sugaree.”

Wet Willie’s “Keep on Smilin’” cover brought smiles from the assembled, 75% of which were fiftysomethings or later.

(When a twentysomething couple sat next to me, I joked, “It’s nice to see some youngsters here.” We laughed. When the fellow told me his favorite album is Allman Brothers Band at Atlanta Pop ’70, I immediately dazzled with the fact that I was there.)

Derek Trucks’ stylings are ever excellent. To my ears, he rarely makes a false step. This night, he kicked it up a notch.

Plus he did something I’ve never seen him do in the dozen or so times I’ve heard TTB live. He has a tendency, like major influence Dickey Betts, to ever so slightly jump the beat when starting a solo. I forget which song, but when it was time for him to start, he was at his amp fiddling with the knobs. His bride looked over quizzically.

After several bars of band vamping in anticipation, he launched into a Hendrixian solo, unlike any I’ve ever heard him play.

Apparently they’re doing the Stones “Doo Doo Doo Heartbreaker” periodically on this tour, but it came out of the blue for most of us.

The finale, with the entirety of opener Ziggy Marley’s band joining in, was a searing, devoid of chaff fifteen minute Sly & Family Stone mashup of “Sing A Simple Song” and a Houston we have lift off “I Want to Take You Higher.”

Days later, I feel the same as when I floated outta the joint, I’ve never heard better.

— c d kaplan


3 Comments on “Rock n Roll Repast: TTB in Indy”

  1. 1 Redstein said at 2:11 pm on July 20th, 2023:

    Glad the concert was great. Having heard everybody, you are a great judge.

    I haven’t seen Gabe Dixon’s name lately. My ex’s cousin played in his band years ago.

  2. 2 Clark Rechtin said at 6:08 am on July 23rd, 2023:

    Great review of a GREAT band; last time I saw TTB was at the Iroquois Park Amphitheater with Greg Allman, not long before he passed–spectacular concert.
    BTW, you going to see Christone “Kingfish” Ingram at Headliners in November? Amazing young bluesman spawned at the “Crossroads”, Clarksdale, Miss., and a truly singular guitar talent. Got my tickets already!

  3. 3 Bruce said at 11:28 am on July 24th, 2023:

    I saw Derek and Susan play at a live lunch at wfpk years ago as a young guitar slinger, and a lass who also played and crooned, along with a big ensemble . I knew then they were going to be the best tasty southern jam band.
    The only big live show was when they played at the Louisville football stadium a benefit for MS? Forgot what the benefit was for.
    But my previous prediction was proven to be true.
    Just a smoking live group.

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