As the lights came up on the stage, audience cheers welcomed Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi onstage as they stepped out to perform in Gainesville for the first time.
Audience members young and old filled the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Sunday, singing, dancing and clapping along as the Tedeschi Trucks Band performed songs from their ninth studio album.
Fans like 69-year-old Gainesville resident and retired educator Greg Gillman had been waiting for the opportunity to see the Tedeschi Trucks Band live for years.
Having been a fan of Derek Trucks for years, Gilman said he thought he would have to travel far to get to see the band, going as far as joining a fan club to get early access to tickets.
“This band is just so impressive because they're very, very electric,” he said. “This was something that was on the bucket list, and I'm glad it happened right here in town.”
Eleven musicians on horns, percussion, keyboard, guitars and backing vocals backed Susan Tedeschi’s powerful lead vocals. Even with so many members of the group, each member was given a moment to shine through solo performances throughout the set.
The powerhouse group showcased each musician and instrument in its lineup by performing cuts that highlighted each section’s talents like the fan-favorite “Pasaquan.” The 12-minute-long song features solos on the drums, guitar, trumpet and keyboard.
Truck and Tedeschi met in 1999 while Tedeschi was performing as an opening act for The Allman Brothers Band, a group that Trucks’ uncle was a member of. The two musicians immediately connected through their love for blues and music and formed a relationship.
After touring together with a combination of their two bands as Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi's Soul Stew Revival in 2007, they decided to officially join forces to form the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
They released their first album, “Revelator,” in 2011. In 2012, it won the Grammy Award for Best Blues Album.
The Jacksonville-native band has since released eight studio albums and three live albums, continuing to win awards such as the Americana Music Honors & Awards Duo/Group of the Year and a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
Sound engineer Bobby Tis first met the Derek Trucks Band in 2004 by chance. Coming out of college the same year, Tis worked in recording studios and got involved in the live music sound world. While working at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, he was assigned to work the sound booth the same night that Derek Trucks Band was set to perform.
Missing a member of their tech team, the band asked Tis to fill in. Days later, they invited him on the road for their tour.
“Derek and I have been thick as thieves since maybe a year after that,” Tis said. “We became friends, and he's definitely if not my best, then one of my best friends in the world.”
The band played “Soul Sweet Song,” paying tribute to Kofi Burbridge, the band’s original keyboardist, who died in 2019 due to ongoing problems with a heart condition.
Gabe Dixon, 45, who occasionally filled in for Burbridge during his treatment, officially took over as the band's keyboardist after Burbridge’s passing. The Gabe Dixon Band, formed by Dixon in 1998, opened for the Trucks Band in 2002, and when Burbridge started to undergo treatment in 2019, Dixon was asked to play in his place.
“People would ask me who [I] would like to collaborate with in interviews, and I'd always say Derek Trucks,” Dixon said. “So, I jumped on as a sub.”
After Burbridge’s death and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the band considered taking a break from performing. They eventually started meeting through Zoom calls and working on their new album that would become “I Am The Moon.”
Dixon and Mike Madison, a singer for the band, drew inspiration from an Arab poem by Nizami Ganjavi called “Layla and Majnun,” which tells a similar story to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. The previous year, the band covered “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos at the LOCKN Music Festival in Virginia, which was inspired by the same story.
Dixon played a pivotal role in the writing of the newest album, specifically the title track that he originally wrote the demo for.
“I wrote the one after reading this one passage [where] Layla says ‘I am the moon and Majnun the radiant sun,’ and I just had to start,” Dixon said.
During its recording sessions in Trucks and Tedeschi’s Georgia property in 2020, the band wrote 24 songs derived from Layla and Majnun’s story.
While the band initially intended to whittle down the amount of songs on the album while recording, it turned into a 24-song album divided into four EPs that were released over the summer.
After performing the 13-song set and a two-song encore, the band bowed and made their way off stage. Their final song, a cover of Joe Tex’s “Show Me,” ended the show with a tribute to an iconic artist of the blues genre.
Contact Gracey at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @graceydavis_.
Gracey Davis is a third-year journalism major and a writer for The Avenue. She is also minoring in theatre. When she's not writing, she loves reading, spending time with her friends, and listening to way too much One Direction.