Tedeschi Trucks and Little Feat team up to get down at the Greek

Tedeschi Trucks Band and Little Feat
The Greek Theatre, Berkeley
June 1, 2024

Photos by Paul Piazza

Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks have a unique reverence for the great songwriters of the world. The pair and their marvelous 12-piece band recently did a two-night run at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. The group have the rare ability to include and interpret a treasure trove of covers that range from the well known to the relatively obscure into their setlists. This joyous skill, paired with all of the band’s great originals and the fact that they are one of the great rock, soul and blues alliances on the planet, always makes for a great show.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

The Tedeschi Trucks Band is based in Jacksonville, Florida and led by the wife and husband team of guitarist/vocalist Tedeschi and  Derek Trucks. The two were married in 2001 and have a couple of kids. The pair had very busy musical lives when they married, he in the Allman Brother band and she had established a very successful solo career. Then they started the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010 and took everything to entirely new levels.

On this second night of two in Berkeley, the band came out blazing. Roaring out of the gates with “Statesboro Blues,” guitarist/vocalist Tedeschi was wielding “Alligator,” the 1955 Fender Stratocaster that belonged to Jerry Garcia and had been loaned to the band for the evening. With Trucks blazing alongside her with his slide on his Gibson SG and the band firing on all cylinders, it was time to buckle up for the ride. A few songs later, the band threw a curveball at the jubilant Saturday night crowd when they played The Rolling Stones’ “Monkey Man.” This was the first time they had played this tune live. It was sung by soulful backup vocalist Mike Mattison, one of the many amazingly talented members of the band. This one, early on in the set, seemed to catch everyone in the place by surprise. Naturally, it took things to an even higher level than they already were and where they remained elevated for the rest of the gorgeous Bay Area night.

Susan Tedeschi on Alligator

Other covers that followed were songs by Blind Joe Reynolds (“Outside Woman Blues”), Matthew Moore (“Space Captain”),  Mike Reid (“I Can’t Make You Love Me”), and the Grateful Dead’s “Mr. Charlie.” On the Dead cover, Tedeschi picked up “Alligator” once again. The revered instrument was perched on a guitar stand that was center stage for the remainder of the night.

In addition to the rich covers, the band included many nuggets from their solo work including “Midnight in Harlem,” “Do I Look worried,” and “Part of Me.” They played 18 songs in all.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

There is an ample pedigree of rock n’ roll history in both Truck’s and Tedeschi’s backgrounds as well as throughout the band. Trucks’ uncle is the late Butch Trucks, who was drummer and a founding member of the Allman Brothers. Derek’s brother Duane is the drummer for Widespread Panic and Hard Working Americans. Both Trucks and Tedeschi were child prodigies who were gigging by the time they were in their pre teens. Tedeschi founded the Susan Tedeschi Band in 1993 and gained renown for both her gospel-inspired vocalizations and her remarkable dexterity on the Fender Telecaster. She has been spent time out on the road with the late B.B. King, Bob Dylan, and even the Rolling Stones. Tedeschi is known for favoring a style that has an emphasis on trills. Trucks plays with open tunings and is widely considered one of the greatest contemporary masters of slide playing. They complement each other perfectly and together, with their band, they are an absolute blues, rock, and soul machine.

Tedeschi Trucks and Little Feat

All of the band members have remarkable resumes. One example is the talented keyboardist Gabe Dixon, who has recorded with Paul McCartney and has had his own Gabe Dixon Band and opened Tedeschi Trucks’ last tour as a solo act. Vocalist Alecia Chakour is an absolute powerhouse vocalist has shared the stage with the likes of the Warren Haynes Band,  Lettuce, Soullive, and many others. Trumpeter Ephraim Owens has spent time in the groups of Sheryl Crow, Mumford and Sons, and recorded with bluesman Jimmie Vaughan.

Little Feat

And naturally, on this night, to further emphasize the reverence Tedeschi Trucks have for the American songbook, they brought along the band Little Feat. A true American treasure, Little Feat is a band known for their infectious grooves that feature a fusion of California rock, funk, jazz, country, and New Orleans Swamp Boogie to perpetrate a unique sound. The  legendary band is led by original member Billy Payne, along with bassist Kenny Gradney and percusionist Sam Clayton, who have been in the band’s core since 1972. Guitarist Fred Tackett has been associated with the band since its beginnings due to his friendship with founder Lowell George, who died in 1979, and has contributed significantly to the band’s repertoire over the years. He became a full member in 1988. Rounding out the group were guitarist Scott Sharard and drummer Tony Leone, both of whom are fantastic players.

Kenny Gradney of Little Feat

After playing some of their most well known songs including “Dixie Chicken” and “Spanish Moon” during their own set, Little Feat returned to join Tedeschi Trucks during their encore. They played the Sleepy John Estes tune “Leaving Trunk,” which had been immortalized on Taj Mahal’s self-titled album in 1967. Following that, they finished the night with a big version of Rashaan Roland Kirk’s “Volunteered Slavery.”

Bill Payne of Little Feat

It was a perfect ending to a picturesque night at the Greek. Walking out, one could hear a satisfied hum in the air around the crowd.