When Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi put aside their solo careers and combined forces in the Tedeschi Trucks Band a little over two years ago, they didn’t know if they could make it last.
The duo, married since 2001, were both well-known for their own musical endeavors at the time — both were bandleaders, and Trucks has been a member of the Allman Brothers Band since 1999. )His uncle, Butch Trucks, is the band’s founding drummer.)
But the Tedeschi Trucks Band was purposely designed as something different — an 11-piece behemoth combining members of Trucks and Tedeschi’s solo bands, featuring two drummers and a horn section. The sheer size of the group alone initially inspired some skepticism from those around them.
Tedeschi Trucks Band
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton Ave., Albany
How Much: $79, $59, $39
More Info: 465-3334, www.palacealbany.com
“We knew going into it that there was a good chance we wouldn’t be able to make it work,” Trucks said recently from his home in northern Florida, taking time out from the road for Thanksgiving.
“So we decided to put everything we had into it for a year or more, and see if we could somehow keep it rolling. . . . Our management and everyone else for a while thought we were out of our minds — and we kind of are, but that’s what it takes to make something happen.”
There were some in the audience, too, who balked at the husband-and-wife team and the different sound. Surprisingly, there were even cries of sellout — despite the fact that the large band made things more difficult financially.
“I always got a chuckle early on when some of the naysayers would decide we were doing this as a money grab,” Trucks said. “Somebody’s not very good at math. We were playing the same room with a much smaller band before.”
He and Tedeschi have stuck to their guns, and it’s worked for them. This year, the band won a Grammy for Best Blues Album for its debut “Revelator”; performed at the White House with Mick Jagger, B.B. King and Keith Richards; and closed this year’s Newport Jazz Festival, among other highlights. The group also released a live album, “Everybody’s Talkin’,” a two-disc set drawing from the support tour for “Revelator.”
“[It was] a lot of stuff that I think we would consider bucket list material,” Trucks said. “The band’s progress has been pretty unbelievable, musically and personally. And the crowd showing up — the response to what the band is doing is pretty amazing.”
The band is on its final leg of touring for this year — their show Sunday night at the Palace Theatre is their last of 2012. It will be the band’s first in the area since its sold-out show at The Egg in October of last year.
This tour will be the first with new bassist George Porter Jr., of funk band The Meters, following the retirement of Oteil Burbridge of the Allman Brothers Band and the Derek Trucks Band. Porter joins keyboardist Kofi Burbridge (Oteil’s brother), drummers Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson, saxophonist Kebbi Williams, trumpeter Maurice Brown, trombonist Saunders Sermons, and backing vocalists Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers.
“He’s a legendary, world-class bass player,” Trucks said of Porter. “We haven’t been on the road with him yet, so there’ll be all kinds of stuff flying around.”
Even without the lineup change, the band is much different from the one that played The Egg a little over a year ago, thanks to plenty of roadwork. The band’s musical evolution is captured on “Everybody’s Talkin’,” which features extended jams on “Revelator” songs and covers from artists such as Stevie Wonder and John Sebastian, culled from multiple shows throughout the band’s tour.
“When we did the studio record, the band was just forming — it really formed in the studio, as we really hadn’t gigged much as a band yet,” Trucks said.
About the sound
“We intentionally wanted to make it about the songs and Susan’s voice, the band’s sound, not stretching out too much — once we hit the road, we knew that was gonna happen. And then, six or eight months into touring we could feel the huge step forward as a band, and about that time we decided we really wanted to capture the band in that initial stage.”
With the band’s live presence and sound firmly developed, Trucks and Tedeschi are already looking to the next studio album. The band currently has about 16 songs written, and is planning to hit the studio in January.
“As time goes on, I think [writing and recording] becomes my favorite part of the process — having friends down to the studio, spending a day writing tunes, kind of airing it out,” Trucks said.
“There’s something really nice about it. The live show certainly represents what the band is unleashing on the road — it’s a pretty amazing group of musicians, and I have a feeling the next studio record will fall somewhere in the middle.”
As the group grows more comfortable, they’ve even started adding older songs from Tedeschi and Trucks’ solo careers into their set lists — something the band actively avoided early on.
“I think now that this band has an established sound, we feel comfortable doing that — there’s no danger of it turning into one of those projects,” Trucks said.
“Now that it’s off the ground and has its own momentum, I feel confident at this point that we can take any song, whether we wrote it or someone else wrote it, and turn it into our own thing.”
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