Tedeschi Trucks Band + Little Feat | Greek Theatre | 5/31/2024

Article Contributed by Alan Sheckter | Published on Tuesday, June 4, 2024

"'Cause your soul’s sweet song’s still singin’,” Susan Tedeschi sang in the Tedeschi Trucks Band set opener on May 31, a heartwarming song of hope and a tribute to the late band keyboardist Kofi Burbridge, who passed away five years back. The 12-piece ensemble’s performance was musically elegant, dazzling, and exciting. Myriad layers and complexities of melodies, rhythms, and extended jams merged and blossomed during each song. The show was the first of a two-night residency at the hallowed Greek Theatre on the University of California campus in Berkeley, Calif. Venerable rock/Cajun-boogie outfit Little Feat opened the show.

Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi | Berkeley, CA

Tedeschi Trucks Band | Greek Theatre

Fronted by a couple of blues-rock stalwarts, each with a phenomenal musical pedigree, the husband-and-wife team of Tedeschi and Derek Trucks presided over a symphonic rock ‘n’ blues (‘n more) experience; Trucks is recognized as one of the top guitarists, especially slide guitarists, in the rock world, and Tedeschi’s soulful, comforting, slightly raspy voice melds perfectly and helps define the band.

Derek Trucks | Greek Theatre

Susan Tedeschi | Berkeley, CA

Trucks (nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer/co-founder Butch Trucks) is remembered by many as the 13-year-old guitar phenom who first sat in with the Allman Brothers, a band in which he became a permanent member from 1999 to 2014. And some got their first glimpse of Tedeschi in the 1990s when she led her own band, or when she was part of the Lilith Fair in 1999, B.B. King’s Blues Festival tour in 2000, or with The Other Ones in 2002. Tedeschi (from Boston) met Trucks (from Jacksonville, FL) in 1999, and they married in 2001. They fronted the short-lived Soul Stew Revival in 2007-09 before launching the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2011.

Tedeschi Trucks Band | Greek Theatre

Here at the Greek Theatre, the stage setup was physically balanced, with the front line featuring Trucks and Tedeschi in the middle, flanked by keyboardist Gabe Dixon on the left and bass player Brandon Boone on the right. Behind them were dual drummers Tyson “Falcon” Greenwell and Isaac Eddy in the center, with a three-piece horn section to their right and a three-piece vocal harmonies (and more) group to their left.

Tedeschi Trucks Band | Greek Theatre

Every song spotlighted Trucks’ dexterous, tenacious blues and slide guitar sequences in conjunction with Tedeschi’s raw, emotional vocals and ample guitar licks. Other song selections moved the pair toward more supporting roles, while one of the other players took the spotlight.

Derek, Isaac Eddy, and Susan | Berkeley, CA

The 2½-hour performance included a couple of fistfuls of Tedeschi Trucks’ originals, including “Anyhow,” “It’s So Heavy,” “Idle Wind,” “Made Up Mind,” and “I Want More.” In addition, the aforementioned opener, “Soul Sweet Song,” was followed by “Playing With My Emotions,” both from the band’s 2022 “I Am the Moon” project. The band touched on that album twice more – “Circles ‘Round the Sun” mid-set (which included a spectacular Kebbi Williams sax solo), and first encore, “La Di Da.”

Gabe Dixon on vocals | Tedeschi Trucks Band

Tedeschi Trucks Band | Greek Theatre

Susan Tedeschi and Alecia Chakour on vocals | Greek Theatre

As is their practice, the band took us to school with a litany of covers from several iconic acts. Included in the mix were the Allman Brothers Band’s “Dreams,” with Dixon’s vocals and his Hammond B3 organ sounding reminiscent of the late Gregg Allman. Other classic offerings were Chuck Willis’s 1950’s soulful “I Feel So Bad” (vocalized by Mike Mattison, who’s been with the band since the beginning); and “It Ain’t Fair,” an Aretha Franklin ballad recorded in 1970 on which guitarist Duane Allman appeared, sung at the Greek Theatre with passionate glory by Alecia Chakour. Tedeschi was correct when she introduced the song, prepping the crowd by saying, “Better get your seatbelts on.”

Tedeschi Trucks Band | Berkeley, CA

Tedeschi Trucks Band also performed “You Got the Silver,” a lesser-known ditty from The Rolling Stones’ 1972 classic LP, “Let it Bleed.” Tedeschi recorded that song with her band on “Hope and Desire” in 2005. The band also gave the crowd a muscular version of Blind Faith’s (Steve Winwood’s) “Had to Cry Today” from 1969. And the band also delivered Jeff Beck’s almost 60-year-old instrumental “Beck’s Bolero” to end the set, as well as an encore of Joe Cocker’s “High Time We Went,” which they performed for the first time just one week prior.

Little Feat | Greek Theatre

Opening the show, Little Feat delivered an hourlong all-killer, no-filler set of hits from their early- to mid-‘70s heyday that had the sun-splashed crowd up and dancing. Founded way back in 1969 by the late Lowell George, keyboardist/vocalist Bill Payne, and others, three band members – Payne, bassist Kenny Gradney, and bongos/congas specialist Sam Clayton – have been with the band for more than 50 years.

Little Feat | Berkeley, CA

Scott Sharrard | Little Feat

Fred Tackett | Little Feat

Bill Payne & Tony Leone | Little Feat

Sam Clayton & Kenny Gradney | Little Feat

To kick it off, Little Feat offered exhilarating versions of “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” “All That You Dream,” and “Oh Atlanta.” The group also features Fred Tackett (guitar, mandolin, trumpet), who’s been in the mix since 1987; Scott Sharrard, (rhythm guitar, vocals) who replaced Paul Barrere following his passing in 2019; and Tony Leone on the drum kit.

Little Feat | Greek Theatre

“Spanish Moon” and “Skin it Back” followed, and then Clayton took the mic for a keen version of Muddy Waters’ “Why Are People Like That?”

Little Feat | Greek Theatre

Little Feat | Greek Theatre

The set ended with a wonderful two-song sequence. First, Little Feat performed acoustically, “Willin’,” perhaps the band’s (and George’s) most enduring song, followed by a grand, 15-minute or so version of “Dixie Chicken.”

Wavy Gravy | Berkeley, CA

Wavy Gravy, the clown prince of psychedelia and Seva/Camp Winnarainbow co-founder who just turned 88, was in the house for the show and introduced Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Greek Theatre, during intermission between the bands | Berkeley, CA

With a capacity of 8,500 and its view of the San Francisco Bay and the Sather Tower, aka Campanile Tower, the Greek Theatre, the longest-running outdoor amphitheater in the country, according to its website, opened in 1903. The Grateful Dead performed 29 shows there between 1967 and 1989. New to fans who’ve been coming here for years were renovations, completed in April 2024, including a regraded, tiered, less-steep lawn area, and the addition of accessible seating.

Tedeschi Trucks Band "Deuces Wild Tour 2024"

Tedeschi Trucks Band setlist: Soul Sweet Song, Playing With My Emotions, Anyhow, I Feel So Bad, It's So Heavy, Idle Wind, You Got the Silver, Circles 'Round the Sun, Had to Cry Today, It Ain't Fair, Dreams, Made Up Mind, Just Won't Burn, I Want More, Beck's Bolero. Encores: La Di Da, High Time We Went

Greek Theatre | Berkeley, CA

Greek Theatre | Berkeley, CA