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Rhapsody Radar 2012: #12 Tedeschi Trucks Band

by Justin Farrar

Rhapsody Radar 2012: #12 Tedeschi Trucks Band

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Married in 2001, longtime blues drifters Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks collaborated only sporadically until 2010, when they opted to focus all their energy on a brand new band, a large ensemble mixing race and sex -- or family and art -- as much as it does blues and rock.

There's something subtly defiant about a sprawling, mongrelized collective like Tedeschi Trucks Band thriving in an era reeling from economic downsizing and market consolidation. Then there's the "Southern" issue: self-consciously channeling the spirit of Duane-era Allman Brothers, the group's very existence is a challenge to all the trite yet incessantly regurgitated stereotypes about the region from which they've emerged (Jacksonville, Florida, in their case). Yes, the South was home to slavery and (later) segregation, but she has also given America its rich musical identity, an identity fueled by radical miscegenation and boundary-smashing cultural fusion.

TTB eased into their sound with 2011's Revelator, a studio effort with more hints than proclamations. But after lengthy stretches on that crucible known as the road, their ambitious vision went supernova. This can be experienced on this year's expansive live album, Everybody's Talkin'. Here, slow-burn swamp blues bleeds into AM oldies re-imagined as blue-eyed gospel, itself giving way to rattling hippie funk. Possibly the most poignant moment comes with "Midnight in Harlem." On Revelator, the tune takes the form of a pleasant ballad with a hummable melody; on stage, however, it evolves into a floating meditation (life, love, loss, perseverance, etc.) replete with Derek's raga-flavored introduction. At one point Susan weeps, "He was born to love me." It's a line that perfectly encapsulates the pungent whiff of fate permeating the arrival of the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

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