The crowd shuffled in to Al Lang Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Florida when it opened its doors at 5:30pm under the partly cloudy skies which held the temperature in the low nineties. There was a buzz in the air as fans located their seats in the reserved seating section, as others were choosing their general admission positions on the grass of current Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer field. Tonight “The Wheels of Soul Tour” headlining “The Tedeschi Trucks Band” featuring Derek Trucks had come to town. Truck’s lineage extends back to his uncle Butch Trucks, the original drummer of The Allman Brothers Band. Derek, the child prodigy now in his forties, has been touring Central Florida the past three decades. He has shared the stage with the greatest Blues guitar players in his lifetime; Buddy Guy, BB King, and Eric Clapton, to name a few. Tonight, he and his wife Susan Tedeschi would play to the joy of a nearly packed soccer stadium.
The show kicked off with “Shovels and Rope”, a married duo from Charleston, South Carolina. “Shovels and Rope” went on at 6:40pm and entertained the crowd with their style of country, folk, and rock-n-roll. The set started kind of slow as the stadium was filling up, but by the time their 45-minute set was finished the audience was in a frenzy and on their feet. The heat was no longer an issue as the venue had come alive.
Cary Ann Hearst- lead and backing vocals, guitar, drums, keyboard, percussion
Michael Trent – lead and backing vocals, harmonica, guitar, drums, keyboard, percussion
Blackberry Smoke was next on stage at around 7:45pm, and the five-piece band from Atlanta, Georgia, which added a guitar player to make it a six piece on this tour, did not disappoint. Mixing country rock, southern rock, and blues rock creates a Blackberry Smoke show that is one of a kind. Two of their last three records have charted #1 on the US country charts and #1 on the UK rock charts. Their variety of genres create a show you need to see; it’s always fresh and has something for everyone. Paul Jackson’s hard-hitting guitar leads, and vocalist/guitarist Charlie Starr glide this band through their rocking bluesy show that parallels country rock with each song. It’s a groove you need to experience.
Charlie Starr – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Richard Turner – Bass, Vocals
Brit Turner – Lead Drums
Paul Jackson – Guitar, Vocals
Brandon Still – Keyboards
Tedeschi Trucks Band filled the stage at around nine o’clock and the audience roared with appreciation as Tedeschi and Trucks walked to center stage. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi married in 2001 when Derek was playing with The Allman Brothers Band, together forming The Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010. To date, they have won 4 Grammys and numerous “Blues Music Awards”.
The 12-piece band filled the stage and the air with a soulful, bluesy vibe. The crowd in attendance soaked it up while swaying to the beat. As a music fan, I was blown away at the precision that Trucks displayed on the slide guitar, it was masterful and the best I have ever seen in a live show. Susan held her own on guitar, but her vocals were spot on. Midway through the show Charlie Starr, the lead man for Blackberry Smoke joined the band on stage for a cover of Charles Segar’s song “Key to the Highway”. A spectacular moment and I wished I had my camera to capture the shot. Charlie left the stage and two songs later, the band played “Sugaree” by The Grateful Dead. It was Mike Mattison’s lead vocals on “I Wish You Well” that was another inspiring moment. He is soulful and has amazing tone!
There were surprises at every turn of this show and the crowd was getting their money’s worth, and then some. This band has soul and R&B in spades and The Tedeschi Trucks Band is a band I could see seven days a week and not get fatigued. Get out and see Derek and Susan if they come to a city near you, you will fall in love with this beautiful couple, and their music.
Derek Trucks – Guitar
Susan Tedeschi – Guitar & Vocals
Kofi Burbridge – Keys & Flute
Tyler Greenwell – Drums
JJ Johnson – Drums
Mike Mattison – Backing Vocals
Mark Rivers – Backing Vocals
Alecia Chakour – Backing Vocals
Tim Lefebvre – Bass
Kebbi Williams – Saxophone
Elizabeth Lea – Trombone
Ephraim Owens – Trumpet Gabe Dixon – Keyboards