Weekend shows are typically favored and especially highlighted during a summer itinerary. Halfway through their Wheels of Soul Tour, Tedeschi Trucks Band landed their merry ship in the heart of Dixie on Saturday night at Atlanta’s Fabulous Fox Theatre. Having built a solid reputation with support choices on previous tours, TTB has continued tradition with this year’s lineup. Hot Tuna and the Wood Brothers complete the bill on the 2017 version of the Wheels of Soul Tour. With the tour picking up steam, the three bands delivered to a packed house on a hot July evening.
The ticket advertised a 7:30 show time and that’s precisely when the house lights were dimmed. Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady strolled onto the stage and wasted no time in getting plugged in. Yes, the duo known for their acoustic shows, was electrified and prepared to take no prisoners. Along with drummer Justin Guip, the trio proceeded to treat the already packed house to a 45 minute set of blues favorites. Highlighted by a scorching version of the classic “99 Year Blues,” the Hot Tuna set was indeed electric.
After a brief intermission, the Wood Brothers followed with a near hour long set of their own. Brothers Oliver and Chris Wood, with drummer Jano Rix, played an energized batch of their soulful tunes. The trio locked in early and earned the crowd’s approval with recognizable toe-tappers such as “Snake Eyes”, from 2015’s Paradise. A surprise treat was given when Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks joined the Wood Brothers for the moving “Never and Always.” Oliver Wood shared an emotional moment when he acknowledged the significance of being onstage again in the Fox Theatre. Chants of “Bruuuuuce” echoed through the venue and reminded the audience of the late Col. Bruce Hampton, who drew his last breaths on that very Fox stage earlier this year. Oliver dedicated the next song, “Postcards From Hell,” to the late Hampton. Overall, the Wood Brothers packed a powerful punch with their set and, with Hot Tuna, amped the crowd for the evening’s headliners.
Tedeschi Trucks Band began their set at approximately 9:45 and jumped off with “I Want More,” off their latest studio release, Let Me Get By. Firing on all cylinders out of the gate, TTB set the tone for the night’s soul review with the immense power of their big band sound. Kofi Burbridge, noticeably absent while recovering from a recent heart attack, was replaced by Carey Frank on keyboards. Not surprisingly, the band dedicated the first encore, “A Song For You,” to Burbridge. The second song of the TTB set, “Don’t Know What It Means,” showcased Susan Tedeschi handling lead guitar duties and rightfully reflecting her probable tutelage under guitar virtuoso husband, Derek.
“Keep On Growing,” the Derek and the Dominoes classic, found its place in the TTB set as the first cover of the evening. Always a fan favorite, the song propelled the energy inside the Fox Theatre into a whole new gear. A couple songs later, the band brought out the boys of Hot Tuna for a blistering take on Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying.” With the stage occupied by three legitimate lead guitarists, the blues number allowed for Derek, Susan and Jorma to trade solos and compliment each other’s trademark styles. Following with the title track from 2013’s Made Up Mind, the band expanded its focus and featured a standout vocal segment from backup singer Mark Rivers. This was the first of several spotlights given to various members of the twelve-piece ensemble.
The sit-ins continued with the Wood Brothers joining the Tedeschi Trucks Band for a couple of songs. Tinsley Ellis also added guitar to a fantastic rendition of Donnie McCormack’s “Have You No Shame,” featuring Oliver Wood on lead vocals. Ellis left and the Wood Brothers remained for a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Virginia,” which also showcased vocalist Mike Mattison handling a verse in addition to playing acoustic guitar. The Fox began to feel like a southern church on Sunday morning as the TTB dove headfirst into Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew.” Powerfully moving, the song featured poignant performances by harmony vocalists Mark Rivers and Alecia Chakour. The two talented singers brought the house down with their gospel proclamations that one day “they would indeed be free.”
Appropriately, the Tedeschi Trucks Band closed out their main set with a barn-burning take on the Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post.” They returned for a series of encores, the first dedicated to Kofi Burbridge, as mentioned earlier. The second, “Cry Me A River,” was dedicated to Col. Bruce Hampton. It should be noted that Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and Oliver Wood were all on the same Fox stage celebrating Hampton’s 70th birthday the night that he passed away. Closing out with a final two songs, including an homage to Gregg Allman, the TTB wrapped up their show right at midnight.