Dark skies and rain. Still I put my faith in weather God, Bryan Busby and, just as he said, the clouds parted, the rain stopped and I headed for the Crossroads to see what one of my favorite bands.
I arrived five minutes before the 8 p.m. show, in time to watch The Revivalists stroll on stage to the applause of a half capacity crowd. Normally I don’t invest much time in an opening act I know nothing about, but The Revivalists put on one of the finest performances I’ve ever seen.
Two songs into the band’s set I thought, Tedeschi Trucks must be pretty secure to have these guys OPEN for them.
The Revivalists came to life in New Orleans when drummer Andrew Campanelli met guitarist Zack Feinberg at a college jam session. Another friend, George Gekas, joined in on bass and on a random stroll down the street, Feinberg heard David Shaw singing on his front porch.
If you’re getting the sense of a rag tag, happenstance amalgamation of how a group formed, that’s the picture I’m trying to paint. Ed Williams joined on pedal steel guitar and Michael Girardot playing keys.
Giradot spent the night thrashing his vintage organ and keys when not on trumpet. Williams, when fully wound up, played his steel guitar tipped so far forward I was convinced it was going to fall into the crowd at any moment.
The Revivalists is a roots music group with heavy jam band influences and kickass lyrics. There’s an incredibly loose feel to them on stage, but the musicianship is ultra tight. They moved effortlessly from song to song and provided 35 minutes of hard core fun that left the crowd wanting more.
I’ll be getting my second dose of these guys on July 16th at the Bottleneck in Lawrence and I’d suggest you do the same. This band is not to be missed.
After a very short reset, Tedeschi Trucks took the stage opening with “Mind Made Up,” an instant one song reminder of why I try and catch their act every time I can. It also demonstrated why they have the confidence to let the Revivalists open for them.
If the band’s name wasn’t Tedeschi Trucks, it could be Synergy, because of the interaction of the multiple elements the band uses to produce an effect greater than the sum of the individual parts.
What’s that mean?
Derek grew up playing guitar for the Allman Brothers with his uncle, Butch Trucks, a founding member. He’s been rated by Rolling Stone as the 16th best guitarist of all time, dead or alive. Actually, I think he’s in the top 5. Trucks has no equal on the slide guitar. He’s also had his own band aside from playing lead guitar for the Allmans in recent years.
Tedeschi had great success with the Susan Tedeschi Band. If Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin had a love child it would have been her. Tedeschi’s influences are clear to anyone with even a limited knowledge of music, southern rock, gospel, blues and maybe a smattering of jazz.
In most family bands, she would be the guitar player and being married to Derek takes nothing away from her at any time.
Susan and Derek met at a festival, they got married, had kids and decided in 2010 to leave their separate careers and bands behind to form Tedeschi Trucks.
Therein lays the explanation for the two drummers and 11 total band members who take the stage with the husband and wife duo; they pretty much brought everyone with them from their old bands.
The crowd could not have been more engaged from start to finish.
Derek never spoke a word, he just let his signature smirk and guitar do the talking. The stage is Truck’s work bench, the guitar his power tool of choice and he never lets up.
Susan kept it simple, and after most songs repeated in her southern charmed voice, “Thank you SO MUCH.”
Two powerhouses of music stood side by side for two hours with not one ounce of oneupsmanship. With every member of the band getting a chance to demonstrate their solo prowess throughout the night.
That included trumpet player, Maurice “Mo Betta” Brown, who is nothing short of a horn prodigy. But nowhere is letting someone else’s light shine through more intense than when Mike Mattison was asked to come forward and give his reading of “Get What You Deserve.” There just are no words to describe what this kid does with that song so I won’t even attempt to. I’m not a journalist, just a well coiffed scribe.
Whether it was guitar shredding blues or a virtual trip to church on the song “Bound For Glory,” this show covered all the bases. “Midnight in Harlem” sealed the night for me; it was as prefect a set list with as much musical perfection as could have been fitted on a single stage by a single group.
Uh. make that two groups.
Three if you count The Revivalists.