Tedeschi Trucks Band w/ the North Mississippi Allstars
Orpheum Theatre, Memphis, TN
January 17, 2017
Photographer/Writer: Josh Mintz
Derek Trucks and Luther Dickinson are kindred spirits – guitarists whose backgrounds go back decade via bloodline and the musical waters they both dipped their toes in at a young age. On January 17, the two slide guitar heavyweights went toe to toe at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis.
The North Mississippi Allstars opened the show, but as locals, they were really received like a headliner. They kicked off their set in a strong fashion with “Po Black Maddie,” a song that often surfaces later in sets because of its sheer strength. While the set was short, it wasn’t lacking in highlights. “Shake ‘Em on Down” was strong as usual, and the “Deep Elem Blues” cover was fantastic.
The crowd was warmed up by the time the Tedeschi Trucks Band came on stage, and really, there are few that do what they do at the moment. With a slew of instrumentalists on stage one would think that there wouldn’t be much room for individual stamps on the music, but this band always seems to find a way to let everyone shine.
The setlist was mostly comprised of songs from the band’s recent Let Me Get By and covers, and was not short on powerful musicianship. Not enough can be said about Trucks. He’s a force of nature, and over the course of the set he unleashed one fiery guitar solo after the next. But every burly guitar solo was matched by Tedeschi’s standout vocals.
Dickinson emerged to sit in on “the Storm,” and frankly it’s almost unfair. Dickinson is as good a guitar player as there is on so many levels, but anyone that goes toe to toe with Trucks is really up against a wall from jump. That’s the beauty of both musicians, though – it didn’t even matter. The pure talent on stage, the sharing of the music, was a beautiful thing to behold despite Trucks’s oft-dominating tone.
While Tedeschi is the voice of the band, Mike Mattison got his time to take center stage on a few songs that were in the Derek Trucks Band’s repertoire, “Volunteered Slavery” and “Get out of My Life, Woman.” One of the things lost in the DTB > TTB transition was Mattison’s stage time. His voice is as good as it gets, and it’s almost a shame he’s been relegated to mostly background vocal duties in the current band.
The other great note on the evening was the “How Blue Can You Get” cover. Tedeschi and Trucks had a great relationship with BB King, and this show marked the first time they had been back on a Memphis stage since the late great’s passing. They made sure to pay homage to the legend who got his stage name not even 100 yards away from the Orpheum stage.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band represents a true melting pot of musical genres, and there aren’t a whole lot of musical acts that can do what they do on a nightly basis. So much of what they do, what they represent today, came from Memphis…from the soul to the blues. Being able to witness their show from the Bluff City is a special, special thing. Hopefully all at the Orpheum appreciated it as much as those on stage.
North Mississippi Allstars
Po Black Maddie > Skinny Woman, Death Letter Blues, Mississippi Bollweevil, Shimmy > Station Blues, Shake ‘Em on Down, Deep Elem Blues, The Meeting, It Hurts Me Too, Preachin’ Blues > Rollin ‘n Tumblin