Ah, here's what marriage does to a man: The first blistering guitar run of the night came not from Derek Trucks -- premier electric guitar prodigy of his generation and former Eric Clapton sideman -- but his wife, Susan Tedeschi.
The couple's Savannah Music Festival concert Thursday night continued in this vein for quite awhile: the diminutive Tedeschi front and center, both literally in terms of onstage placement and sonically in terms of her booming white-girl blues voice.
Seemingly lost in the mix, at least for the first quarter of the show, was her husband's inspired guitar work. Clapton, Schlapton.
Nothing against Tedeschi -- who, truth be told, is a nifty blues guitarist in her own right -- but when you pay to see a Derek Trucks show, you're paying to get hit between the eyes with some tasty grooving slide goodness, early and often.
Trucks is one of the few musicians of the last quarter century to truly innovate on the electric guitar. So despite the fact that he's become sort of an artist-in-residence at the Music Festival -- an august company he shares with Daniel Hope, Benny Kim and Sebastian Knauer -- any time this young man is on stage is a special time and not an opportunity to be wasted.
It wasn't until several songs into the evening that Trucks really came into his own and order was restored to the universe. During one of their newest numbers, performed here for nearly the first time, Tedeschi and the six members of the couple's brand-new backing band retreated into the background, allowing Trucks to work his signature magic: A slow-burning, gradually intensifying, completely organic solo blending sliding blues and serpentine Eastern scales in that way which only Trucks has been able to master.
It was a miniature sonata all its own -- a totally sick, honkin' sonata at that -- and it had the sellout crowd on its feet. From that point on, Trucks had everyone eating out of the palms of his talented hands as the band moved through a nice combination of all-out jams and some sweet soul numbers, enhanced by the background vocals of the newer members of the ensemble.
I understand the need to sell CDs, and with a band this size, Mr. and Mrs. Trucks certainly have plenty of mouths to feed now. Clearly an easier commercial route to sell CDs is to have an identifiable and appealing voice, such as Tedeschi's, front and center.
But when you have a gift as profound as Derek Trucks', it's best not to look that gift horse in the mouth. Marriage is 'til death do us part, but great music lives on forever. -- Jim Morekis
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