Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi perform at Wolf Trap on July 19, 2022. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Tedeschi Trucks Band is all about family: It’s fronted by the married duo of guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks and vocalist-guitarist Susan Tedeschi. Their annual Wheels of Soul Tour is a highlight of the summer season every year at Wolf Trap, and this year’s event, which also featured East LA rockers Los Lobos and Tedeschi Trucks keyboardist Gabe Dixon in an opening slot was all about family. Over the course of three sets and four hours, fans got to see these first-class musicians play with each other in a joyous, celebratory atmosphere.
At Wolf Trap on July 19, the show opened with Gabe playing keys and singing in a trio with bass and drums. With just 30 minutes to play, he didn’t waste a lot of time on chitchat, keeping the set song and delivering some great songs.
In addition to his role in the Tedeschi Trucks Band (since 2019), Gabe has released several albums of his own, and the set mainly featured those songs: “Find My Way,” “If I Love You,” and “Further The Sky.” He made a smart move by including Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” in the set; as an opener, you have to warm up the crowd, and a great cover of a beloved, familiar song can go a long toward getting the audience on your side. We got the first guest spot in the closing number, a new song, when TTB’s sax and trombone players, Kebbi Williams and Elizabeth Lea, joined him on stage.
Watch Gabe Dixon perform “Find My Way” live in the Bing Lounge on YouTube:
Los Lobos had the middle slot of the evening. They’re coming off a recent Grammy Win for their latest album, Native Sons, an album of covers that pay tribute to their hometown and to the music that has influenced them. They opened with one of those songs, “Love Special Delivery,” which was originally recorded in 1966 by Thee Midniters.
If you’re familiar with the band, you would have immediately noticed the absence of David Hidalgo, who plays a ton of instruments, including a lot of lead guitar and accordion, and often sings lead vocals. David is a big presence, both musically and physically, but these guys are pros, and they worked around his absence to deliver a great set. Because his parts are so crucial to the song, they leaned less on some of their classic original numbers like “Will The Wolf Survive,” “A Matter of Time,” and “One Time One Night,” though the set still included some beloved songs like “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Wicked Rain,” and “That Train Don’t Stop Here.”
Watch Los Lobos perform “That Train Don’t Stop Here” live on YouTube:
Los Lobos originally came together to play Mexican folk music, and those songs have remained a part of their repertoire throughout the band’s 50-year history. Wednesday’s set included a cumbia. They leaned more heavily into the many cover songs they are proficient in playing for the latter half of their set. “If you know the words to the next song, help us out,” pleaded Cesar Rosas as they launched into “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” They had the audience on their feet and dancing — which is pretty typical for these guys, who always bring the party — as they were joined by Kebbi, Lea, and Gabe on Santana’s “Oye Como Va.” Bassist Conrad Lozano took a rare turn on lead vocals on Doug Sahm’s “She’s About A Mover.” For their last number, Susan Tedeschi sang lead on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?”
Following the second intermission of the evening, TTB took the stage to perform the evening’s headline set. This summer, the band has band releasing epic sequence in four volumes, I Am The Moon. It’s inspired by the same Persian poem that served as a source for Eric Clapton’s seminal album Layla. Thus far, the first two albums of the project have been released to strong reviews. They opened with a track from Vol. II, “Playing With My Emotions”; Steve Berlin from Los Lobos joined the horn section with his sax for the number. They dipped back into their catalog for the second tune, “Made Up Mind,” before returning to the new material. Mike Mattison sang lead on “Hear My Dear,” the title of which is an obvious nod to Marvin Gaye. After “Fall In,” Gabe and Susan dueted on vocals on the title track for the whole project, off the first volume.
In the second half of their set, they covered Blind Joe Reynolds’s “Outside Woman Blues” and Dr. John’s “I Walked On Guilded Splinters.” The Dr. John cover was especially fitting, as the band incorporates elements of New Orleans sound throughout their music.
One of the highlights of a TTB show is that these are fantastic instrumentalists, some of the very best, and they showed what they could do on the lengthy “Pasaquan.” Derek Trucks’s mastery of guitar, and slide guitar in particular, is well known, but there are no weak points in the band and hearing them cut loose is a joy. Alfredo Ortiz, the drummer from Los Lobos, popped up on this number.
Watch a visualizer video for “Pasaquan” by Tedeschi Trucks Band on YouTube:
The rest of the set consisted of “Just Won’t Burn,” a song from Susan’s solo days, and two fan favorites, “Midnight In Harlem” and “Bound for Glory.” Their encore took up a song from the Derek Trucks Band days, “Get What You Deserve.” The set was actually only 11 songs, which isn’t atpyical for the band; their songs are long and feature extended instrumental segments.
This tour is always a fun one, something I look forward to every summer, and this year’s installment didn’t disappoint. I can be picky about “jam bands,” but TTB does what they do exceptionally well. If you’re going to give anyone who plays music in this category a chance, of the bands active today, this is the one I’d recommend people check out, because the talent level and execution are so high.
Here are some photos of Los Lobos performing at Wolf Trap on July 19, 2022. All photos copyright and courtesy of Ari Strauss.
Here are some photos of Tedeschi Trucks Band performing at Wolf Trap on July 19, 2022. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Ari Strauss.