The Tedeschi Trucks Band ripped through Raleigh's Walnut Creek Amphitheatre on a warm Tuesday evening for the opening night of their 5th annual Wheels of Soul tour. Featuring their frenetic friends Blackberry Smoke and Shovels & Rope, the jubilant crowd took a fiery expedition through three bands with vastly different sounds yet a shared philosophy of digging deep into the authentic roots of American music.
First up was the husband and wife multi-instrumentalist duo Shovels & Rope, constantly switching who played guitar while the other played drums and keyboards simultaneously, occasionally adding harmonica just in case any jaws hadn't yet dropped. Heavenly harmonies are the highlight of their sound, with a raw spirit that supplied the perfect launching pad for the evening. Blackberry Smoke played next, tearing into meaty jams with gargantuan guitars and an endless torrent of energy. Churning out passionate Southern rock with volcanic bursts of intensity, they cranked everyone to eleven and thoroughly set the stage for the headliners to appear.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band is a 12-member onslaught positively dripping with soulful R&B. With a slew of horns and backup singers, they create a bouquet of sound blooming with colorful accents and punctuations. Their dynamic show takes listeners through a vast range of bluesy rock and funky gospel, never settling on a sound for long and never failing to puncture the bedrock with Derek Trucks' powerful guitar work and the heartfelt vocals of both Susan Tedeschi and Mike Mattison. After opening with a new cover of Elton John's "The Border Song," they ran through gorgeous originals including "Do I Look Worried," "Laugh About it," "Midnight in Harlem" and "Part of Me."
Their loving covers included Rahsaan Roland Kirk's epic "Volunteered Slavery" and a blistering, take-no-prisoners attack on Derek & the Dominos' "Keep on Growing." Blackberry Smoke singer Charlie Starr joined the fun to start the encore with the eternal blues standard "Key to the Highway" before their drummer Brit Turner jumped behind a kit to cap things off with a peppy version of Leon Russell's "Stranger in a Strange Land." Wrapping up to huge applause, the wheels of soul rolled on down the road, ever seeking new lands to harvest and new ears to enchant.
- Paul Kerr
- Photos by Todd E. Gaul, www.photophile.com