Wheels of Soul Tour
Tedeschi Trucks Band with special guests hottuna.com, Wood Brothers
Wednesday, July 19th 2017
The Lawn at White River State Park
Photographer: Tyler Muir
Writer: Amber Jennings
The Wheels of Soul Tour has become an essential staple to the summer concert line-up at the Lawn at White River State Park in Indianapolis, Indiana. “The Lawn” as locals refer to it offers one of the states best amphitheaters. The venue sits on the east bank of the river and offers concert goers striking views when the sun slips behind the amphitheater and paints the sky with stunning sunset colors.
Under a painted sky on a warm Midwest evening, special guests, Hot Tuna, opened the evening. The Americano blues and root music set the stage as concert attendees made their way onto the lawn.
Hot Tuna’s set was the perfect intro for the Wood Brothers, an American folk band consisting of Chris (upright bass; bass, vocals) and Oliver Wood (acoustic and electric guitars, vocals) and multi-instrumentalist and vocals Jano Rix.
The Wood Brothers kicked off their set with, “American Heartache” a smooth jazzy number featuring Oliver on vocals. Keeping with the summery feel they segued into, “Chocolate On My Tongue,” a crowd favorite. A quick shift in instruments and Rix had moved from behind the drums to front of stage with an acoustic guitar for, “Keep Me Around.” A brief introduction from Chris as he greeted the audience and introduced Kebbi Williams (saxophone); Ephraim Owens (trumpet) and Elizabeth Lea (trombone) from the Tedeschi Trucks Band to the stage for another crowd favorite, “Liza Jane.” The band jammed out the fantastic number showing the great chemistry of the traveling musical companions. The TTB members cleared the stage and The Wood Brothers caught a groovy funk with, “Honey Jar.” Oliver’s vocals slinking through the night as his brother got loose and danced with an electric bass. They went straight into their closer for the evening, a cover by The Band, “Olphelia.” The round robin of vocals and the upbeat rock and roll number was a great way to closer their set.
As the sun dipped behind the stage and twilight settled across the lawn the 12 piece award winning southern rock band, Tedeschi Trucks Band rolled onto the stage. Smiles stretched across all band members faces, they were ready to give Indy a treat and went straight into a full force hard hitting Sly & The Family Stone cover, “Are You Ready,” featuring Mike Mattison (harmony vocals), Mark Rivers (harmony vocals) and Susan Tedeschi (guitar, vocals). Without pause the band went straight into, “Made Up Mind.” The heavy electric drive lead by Derek Trucks (guitar) slinky finger work paved the street for Tedeschi to strut her vocals across, the husband and wife duo nailed the rock and roll number. They segued into, “Laugh About It,” Tedeschi’s smooth, strong churchy vocals cascaded across the lawn melting perfectly into Trucks’ slide work that pierced through the night. There was a hard stop before Trucks performed a solo into, “Keep On Growing,” a Derick and the Dominoes cover. The summery tune was a melting pot of vocals as Tedeschi and Mattison wove lyrics back and forth before a crescendo of big brass. As the song continued, Trucks nailed solo after solo, the drums driving everything forward into soft a soft gentleness with Trucks and Tedeschi bouncing guitar licks off of each other like firefly’s twinkling in the night before crescendoing straight into another Derick and the Dominoes cover, ” Don’t Miss Me,” with heavy horns and Mattison on vocals it was very bluesy number.
With a slight pause, TTB, headed into one of the highlights of the evening a Beatles cover, “Within You Without You.” Trucks slide work mimicking a sitar so perfectly everyone was trying to eye the additional instrument on stage that wasn’t there. The cover was George Harrisons second composition in the Indian classical style and was inspired by his mentor Ravi Shankar. The band encompassed the sound brilliantly. Tedeschi, Rivers and Mattison on vocals as Trucks continued into a very heady jam blending seamlessly into, “Just As Strange.”
There was another slight break and short introduction by Tedeschi as she welcomed Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady of Hot Tuna to the stage for a classic Elmore James blues standard, “The Sky Is Crying.” The crowd gave a round of applause for the great rendition as Hot Tuna left the stage. TTB rolled into a Billy Taylor cover, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free,” showcasing Mattison and Alecia Chakour (harmony vocals) on vocals.
Tedeschi welcomed Jorma Kaukonen from Hot Tuna and Chris and Oliver Wood to the stage for an amazing Rolling Stones cover, “Sweet Virgina.” TTB dominated the stage once again for another great moment of the evening, “Midnight in Harlem.” Tedeschi’s vocals calling out across the night as the band played on was magic. They continued the set with, “I Want More,” and a Santana cover, “Soul Sacrifice.” The encore of the evening was nothing short of breathtaking, a Willie McTell cover, “Statesboro Blues.” There is nothing like seeing the TTB cover this song, it’s southern jam fitting so well to these great musicians.
The evening ended with everyone smiling and happy to have been part of the experience and as always looking forward to next years Wheels of Soul Tour tour.