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Stage Buzz: Tedeschi Trucks at Chicago Theatre [Updated with Photo Gallery]

| January 12, 2020

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi

Florida’s legendary Tedeschi Trucks Band, led by married blues guitarists Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, return to the Chicago Theatre for a 4-night run beginning this weekend. TTB has redefined blues and soul over their decade together, powered and defined best by the debut album Revelator. IE’s Ed Spinelli talked with Derek Trucks as he readied his all-star band for their mini-residency on State Street.

IE: We’re looking forward to your upcoming concerts at the Chicago Theatre (Jan 17, 18) and then again the following weekend (Jan. 24, 25). One question, though, why not just book the entire week?

Derek Trucks: We’ve thought about it (laughs). Maybe we’re working toward it, baby steps.

IE: During your stay here, do you plan on hitting Buddy Guy’s?

D: We get out as much as we can, and it’s always nice to go see Buddy. In the last few years, he’s been playing his club around the same time [we’ve been in town], which has been really nice. So yeah, that’s always on the to-do list!

IE: Do you consider Chicago the home of the blues? Or are we just full of ourselves?

DT: There are a few different homes, but if we’re talking about electric blues, I don’t think anyone thinks of anywhere else. [Chicago] is where I think of. You think of Muddy Waters, and you think of Little Walter, and Howlin’ Wolf, even though those guys came from Mississippi and the deep south. I think a lot of the music that we play and a lot of the music that spurred the whole movement, you know, like the Allman Brothers, Clapton, those guys, that’s all pretty firmly rooted in Chicago. So I don’t think it’s wrong (laughing)! We were down at Dockery Farms outside of Cleveland, Mississippi – that’s where Charlie Patten was, and Wolf was down there, and there’s a lot of history down there. So that’s kind of a different version of it. I think it’s possible to have multiple homes. But it isn’t really one of those things where you could argue that [Chicago] isn’t [the home of the blues].

IE: Do you remember the first record you bought with your own money?

DT: Ooh. You know, I think the first CD I bought was a Best of the Blues compilation, and it was the first time I heard Howlin’ Wolf. “Tail Dragger” was the Wolf track. There were a few Bobby Bland tracks on there. Yeah, it was one of the $5.99 blues compilation specials.

IE: Did you ever take guitar lessons?

DT: I did, I did. My dad played a little guitar, so he showed me what he knew, and then he called one of his friends over. He used to be in a band with my uncle (Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers) —it was a band called Trucks in the ‘80s, it was my uncle and a few musicians from North Florida—and this guitar player called Jim Graves would come over. I took a handful of lessons with him, and I started sitting in with him at an open mic thing at a blues club in Jacksonville. I was around nine years old at the time. And then one thing led to another.

IE: You are one of the few guitar players that don’t use picks – do you have the scars to prove it?

DT: Yeah, callouses, and blisters come and go. If I don’t play for a week or so, the blisters come back, but if I keep playing, then my hands look fine (laughing). It’s just when you take a break that your body punishes you (laughing).

IE: When did you first meet Susan, and was it hard to keep in touch while you both had your own bands and schedules?

DT: I think we’d bumped into each other along the way, but the first time we really met, she was opening for the Allman Brothers for a whole tour around the time I joined the band, so 1999. I think we met at the Singer Theater in New Orleans, and then we were on the road together for a few months, so that’s when we really got to know each other. And then we’ve kind of been with each other since. (The couple married in 2001). I mean, we’ve both toured a lot, but it wasn’t that hard to stay in touch. You can always hop on a plane if you want to meet up with somebody (laughs). And then we’ve got a home, and two kids, and a band. We’re about twenty years in now!

IE: If your kids need help with homework, which subject do they come to you with, and when do they go to Susan for help?

DT: I’m probably more of a math brain, but our son’s probably blown past what I remember at this point. He’s applying for college; he’s super sharp, he’s kind of a statistics guy, that’s where he excels. Yeah, so the last six months or so, I’ve been like, “It’s been a long time since I did this.” But I love that part of parenting; getting back into the weeds with them. But Sue is kind of super-mom with that stuff. She can handle any of that stuff.

IE: Right on. Are your kids playing instruments?

DT: A little bit, they dabble. They have good taste in music, but they’re fully into other things. Yeah, it’s fun listening to music with them.

IE: Do they listen to more of today’s pop music?

D: No, not so much. Maybe it’s just around me that they play the stuff they know we’ll connect with, but my daughter will put on Donny Womack or Bobby Hathaway. The last year or so, she was on a Cream kick and a lot of music from that era. The Doors – I was never a big Doors fan, but she’s full-on. And even some of the ‘80s rock stuff that I never was a fan of, she’s fully into. But you know, it could be worse (laughing).

IE: Well, you’re going to kill it in Chicago, you always do.

DT: Well, you know the [Chicago] theatre and the crowd, they’re hard to beat. It’s a highlight every year. It’s one of our homes; it feels right there. And Chicago is just a hell of a lot of fun to spend a few days in. We’re excited for that!
Appearing 1/17, 1/18, 1/24, 1/25 at Chicago Theatre, Chicago

-Ed Spinelli


Ed Spinelli captured TTB on Night 2 at The Chicago Theatre


Set 1
Laugh About It

High & Mighty

Don’t Know What It Means

The Letter (The Box Tops cover)

Life Is Crazy (Mike Mattison cover)

Don’t Let Me Slide

Don’t Drift Away

The Sky Is Crying (Elmore James cover)

Idle Wind

Set 2 – Acoustic
Calling Out to You

When Will I Begin

Done Somebody Wrong (Elmore James cover)

I Am Yours (Derek and the Dominos cover)

Down in the Bottom (Howlin’ Wolf cover)

Set 2 – Electric
Leaving Trunk (Sleepy John Estes cover)


Midnight in Harlem

How Blue Can You Get? (Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers cover)

Good to Your Earhole (Funkadelic cover)

Bound for Glory

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