For fans of rock, soul, and blues inspired jam bands, the Tedeschi Trucks “Wheels of Soul” lineup was sweet music to their ears on a particularly hot and sticky Maine summer evening at Bangor’s Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion. As I am no aficionado of this genre, I will not insult the sensibilities of the diehards who came out to enjoy the show by trying to talk the blues, but I can give readers a rundown and tell you this was a night of fantastic music, a sight to see and hear.
North Mississippi Allstars are brothers Luther Dickinson, guitar and vocals, and Cody Dickinson, drums, and usually a bass player, but not for the Bangor appearance – the Dickinson boys were a duo for this show, and it did not seem to diminish their set at all. These musicians are doing something really cool with the blues and vintage, hard, classic rock and roll. Yes, I know that rock and roll is built on blues, but Luther Dickinson is somehow stealing the riffs back; a member of The Black Crowes, I could listen to him play all day. Starting out with a heavy beat, tribal in nature, for “Baby Please Don’t Leave Me,” NMA’s set ran the gamut of hard core blues with a twist. And just to make everyone’s jaw drop, Luther gave the crowd a great version of “Drinking Muddy Water” playing what appeared to be an electrified coffee can and a stick. This was fun.
Los Lobos was next. Starting with “Peace,” featuring a strong groove and saxophone, they set the scene for a somewhat understated, graceful, and terrific performance. And that is the size of it – Los Lobos may be one of the best yet most overlooked blues/Americana/rock/Tex-Mex/etc. bands. For all of those who lost sight of them beyond “La Bamba,” there are twenty-plus albums to dig into. David Hidalgo’s vocal work and guitar solos were spectacular, stunning many of us as he took the classic “Crossroads” for a walk. The rest of the band is equally as impressive. Joined by Derek Trucks for the last two songs, “The Neighborhood” and “La Venganza De Los Pelados,” the jam was off and running for the rest of the night.
Tedeschi Trucks Band plays to sold out crowds across the country, but it seemed that there were two responses from folks when I told them Tedeschi Trucks Band was coming to the Waterfront: “I love them.” or “Who?” That may explain the less than sold out state of the venue, but the fans in attendance were not counting heads, they were there for the music and loving every minute of it. Of course, the show as all about Susan Tedeschi’s vocals, Derek Trucks’ slide guitar, and where the artists could take the music as they jammed together.
TTB started right out of the gate featuring soul and blues and keyboards, letting Trucks get busy on guitar as Tedeschi filled the sky with her velvety, raspy, sweet voice. The set list was short, only eleven songs but each of extended length, of course, and included three songs from their latest release, Let Me Get By: the title song, “Don’t Know What It Means,” and “Anyhow.” Included in the rest of the performance were several well-loved and appreciated covers, notably Derek and the Dominoes’ “Keep on Growing,” The Box Tops’ “The Letter,” as well as Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” to end the night.
Based solely on fan reaction, TTB’s set was terrific. Fans told me that they love the talent on stage, and this was a stage full of the best in the business, as well as watching the music as it is created right before their eyes, each artist joining in and adding to the mix. It is all about the interaction, so it seems. To be honest, for me, as a newbie, there were times that the conglomeration was a bit overwhelming, but not to seasoned fans – they loved the juxtapositions in the jams and the skill of the performers as they brought the music all back together, only to let it loose once more in the next song. Even more interesting to me was observing each fan following a different rhythm as they grooved to the music – the same music, an individual experience for all. Cool, very cool.