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Summer Wind: Tedeschi Trucks Band @ SummerStage 30

city parks foundation, derek and susan, central park summer stage, tedeschi trucks band

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Derek and Susan roll out some prime tunes at Central Park SummerStage premier.

Baby, You’re A Rich Fan…
“Embarrassment of riches” is a phrase that always comes to mind when I do my annual overview of the spring and summer music scene in New York City. These outdoor concerts feature a treasure trove of listening opportunities that when amassed across a short three month period is not only mind boggling but for the most part offered FREE to the general public.

On May 18th, The City Parks Foundation launched its 30th Central Park SummerStage season with a great show by what I think is the quintessential American band of our time, The Tedeschi Trucks Band. They are also currently my favorite band. You may have already read my rhapsodizing about why I love them here and as far back as my Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 BluRay review on PiercingMetal.Com. I’ll give you the spiel anyhow.

S’oul in the Family…
By design, TTB is a 21st century Delany and Bonnie and Friends with a twist of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishman. Those bands form the roots of a tall family tree that includes Derek and The Dominoes, Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, The Grease Band, mid-period Rolling Stones and George Harrison’s masterpiece, the All Things Must Pass album (1970).

Though the namesake of wife and husband Susan and Derek, TTB is also the vehicle for a boatload of musicians who could equally front their own bands. These are 11 amazing players, vocalists, and songwriters who make what appears a juggernaut run like a Ferrari.

Derek Trucks – Guitar
Susan Tedeschi – Guitar & Vocals
Kofi Burbridge – Keyboards & Flute
Tyler Greenwell – Drums & Percussion
J.J. Johnson – Drums & Percussion
Mike Mattison – Harmony Vocals
Mark Rivers – Harmony Vocals
Kebbi Williams – Saxophone
Maurice Brown – Trumpet
Saunders Sermons – Trombone
Tim Lefebvre – Bass Guitar

city parks foundation, derek and susan, central park summer stage, tedeschi trucks band, mike mattison

Singer & Songwriter Mr. Mike Mattison, takes his turn on vocals.

Blues Power…
Strains of blues, gospel, free jazz, southern soul, and “Americana” run through the veins of TTB. While they embody the ethos of a jam band they also never lose sight of the song in favor of endless extrapolation. That said, you will find that their studio recordings, while excellent, are merely a starting point for evolution. Like The Allman Brothers Band before them the real way to appreciate TTB is live onstage. Surprises like opening their swampy barn burner “The Storm” with the coda from Led Zep’s “What Is and What Should Never Be” make the shows exciting and fun for savvy listeners.

Though a few tunes like Mike Mattison’s “Midnight in Harlem” have deservedly become fan favorites and apparent staples, the group continuously juggles their set-lists to keep things interesting for camp followers and they always pick great cover tunes (from Bobby “Blue” Bland to The Beatles) that inform the audience of their musical lineage.

Like the Foo Fighters they are extremely respectful of what came before them, the musical shoulders they stand on, and also like FF they are not shy about shining a light on those progenitors. For instance this summer at the Interlocking Music Festival in Arrington, VA., TTB will pay homage to the late Joe Cocker with a tribute concert (including original members) to the aforementioned Mad Dogs and Englishman band. They’ve already regularly played “Space Captain” in the past, but the idea of having this band dive into “Delta Lady,” “Cry Me A River,” “Feeling Alright,” and Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham’s “The Letter” is beyond exciting for this fan.
central park summer stage, tedeschi trucks band
Join Together with the Band…
Inviting fellow musicians to join them on stage is also a standard practice. At Summerstage, Clapton cohort Doyle Bramhall II augmented the group for a healthy portion of the set including a funky workout on Derek and the Dominoes’ “Keep On Growing” and blues standard “Key to the Highway.” They also hosted Ms. Sharon Jones who delighted the capacity crowd performing two classic soul numbers, Etta James’ “Tell Mama” and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” Jones and her band The Dap Kings will support TTB this season on the “Wheels of Soul” Tour. It seems a perfect match, and I suspect we will be treated to many more duets between Susan and Sharon.

city parks foundation, derek and susan, central park summer stage, tedeschi trucks band

Susan and Sharon shake ’em on down at Central Park Summerstage


TTB Central Park SummerStage Setlist, May 18, 2015
Made Up Mind
Do I Look Worried
Midnight In Harlem
Get What You Deserve (Mike Mattison, lead vocal)
I’ve Got A Feeling/Jam (Beatles cover w/ Doyle Bramhall II)
Keep On Growing (Derek and the Dominoes cover w/ Doyle)
Key to the Highway (Charles Segar cover w/ Doyle)
Break in Every Road
Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke cover w/ Sharon Jones)
Tell Mama (Etta James cover w/ Sharon Jones)
Idle Wind
I Pity the Fool (Bobby “Blue” Bland cover)
The Storm

Encore:
Bound For Glory
More and More (Little Milton cover)

Listen People…
Give that show, and so much more, a listen by exploring the wonderful tapers’ community at the Internet Archive. There’s lots of Soulive and Lettuce there too. Also, be sure to treat yourself to a ticket or three to see Tedeschi Trucks Band as they tour throughout the year.

central park summer stage, tedeschi trucks band

Launching the 2015 SummerStage season, NYC Parks Commissioner, Mitchel Silver presented a mayoral proclamation to City Parks Foundation Board Chair, David Moore and City Parks Foundation Executive Director, Heather Lubov.

SkeletonPete Says…
September will see The Tedeschi Trucks Band roll into New York City’s beautiful Beacon Theater for a residency that I hope eventually grows to rival The Allman Brothers’ now legendary March encampments.

Before that, be sure to check out the schedules of amazing free shows throughout NYC this summer.

The City Parks Foundation SummerStage offers concerts in all five boroughs, BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn series has a great line-up at the Prospect Park bandshell, and City Winery has outdoor shows (5:30 – 7:00 pm) behind the venue on their loading dock (which they like to call Hudson Square Mall) on Tuesday evenings starting June 2.

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The Harmony Game: The Making of Bridge Over Troubled Water

My current immersion in the creative recording process with Dance Half Done made the opportunity to see an advance screening of “The Harmony Game”, a new documentary on the making of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album, an all-the-more special treat. When my wife saw that this early public peek would be at one of our favorite venues, City Winery, we jumped at the chance.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” marked the pinnacle of S & G’s recording career as well as the dissolution of their creative partnership for many years afterward. This film was created specifically to accompany the 40th Anniversary Edition of that 1970 album which is scheduled for release on March 8th, 2011. It will have a limited engagement in theaters throughout the month.

Like The Beatles, as Simon and Garfunkel’s public popularity grew in leaps and bounds, their creativity and imagination in the studio (and the record company’s willingness to indulge it) grew concurrently. The film is an enjoyable mix of anecdotes and archival footage, some culled from the contemporaneous TV special “Songs of America”, of that process. Along with new in-depth interviews with Paul and Artie , the 70 minute chronicle offers talks with co-producer/engineer Roy Halee, “wrecking crew” drummer Hal Blaine, arranger Jimmie Haskell, and others.In particular it is great to see the unsung hero of sixties pop hits, bass player Joe Osborn, finally get some face time on screen. Based on his session-ography he deserves a documentary of his own.

Halee, credited as the sonic architect of the duo’s recorded legacy, relates in some detail the process he used to get the group’s unique vocal sound, and the amount of experimentation – especially with natural ambiance – invested in the project. Blaine tells the legendary elevator story, the “instrument” playing the solo in “The Boxer” is revealed, as is who fingerpicks its beautifully fluid opening run. Unfortunately multi-instrumentalist session player Larry Knechtel passed away in 2009. It is his piano work we hear on the gospel inspired title song; a track that was the culmination of a 3 day session to work out its arpeggios, counterpoints and turnarounds to perfection. There is no mistaking that perfection was the goal, putting that many uber-talented “type A” personalities in one room made for a creative pressure cooker but their talents thankfully went beyond note perfect to soul perfection.

To some extent the film follows the now familiar “classic albums” formula, but leaves us short of what is often the most enjoyable part – a trip through the multi-tracks. As Osborn relates in one segment, a finished track was often a pastiche of the best pieces of several takes and a listen to bits that got left out, experiments that failed, etc. would have been fun. That is not to say that the soundtrack does not include bits of alternate and/or early takes.

40th Anniversary Edition, 1 CD - 1 DVD

For those of us who have already owned the album in any number of formats and remastered versions since it’s first release, it is this documentary that will make the 40th Anniversary Edition worth owning. At a street price likely to be under $15.00 for the whole package it is quite a bargain.

For more information on some of the artists mentioned above visit:
Simon and Garfunkel Website
Roy Halee: An in depth interview circa 2001 in Mix Magazine.
Drummer Hal Blaine and Bassist Joe Osborn. Their session credits are mind-blowing.

To purchase on Amazon
Bridge Over Troubled Water (40th Anniversary Edition) (1 CD/1 DVD)