Written by Jim Bille
ImageOne of the best and probably hottest summer shows of 2015 took place last Friday night at the Woodlands Pavilion when The Tedeschi Trucks band brought their “Wheels of Soul” tour to town. This tour also includes Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings as well as Doyle Bramhall II so there was plenty of music to go around considering it all kicked off at 6:30 and didn’t wind down until around 11:00 that evening.

A TTB show never disappoints and this one was no different. Backed by horns, backup singers, two drummers and keyboards, these two artists can pretty much cover all the bases when it comes to creating their brand of blues and R&B in a live performance.

Derek Trucks continues to re-define the art of guitar playing with his blues / rock and sometimes eastern influenced techniques. His intense onstage persona remains focused almost solely on his guitar playing. Only occasionally will you see Trucks break from his stoic character with a smile or acknowledge the crowd. All guitar go-man ship without the guitar god showman ship is alright by me as Trucks is one gobsmacking guitar playin’  wonder to witness when performing live.

ImageSusan Tedeschi will steal the show every time with her strong and soulful vocals. Her delivery is consistently powerful as she belts out every word and verse with incredible passion.

Tedeschi herself is no slouch when it comes to guitarists. Her solo career skyrocketed prior to TTB due in part to her playing and she definitely held her own as she contributed her guitar flash on many numbers during the show.

Most of TTB’s show leaned on their latest release, “Made Up Mind”, which was just fine as this Blues Music Rewards Rock Blues Album of the Year release includes many numbers that really define what this duo’s music is all about. Songs featured from “Made Up Mind” included the chugging guitar riff laden “Made up Mind”, the melodic “Do I Look Worried”, “Idle Wind”, and the ominous sounding “The Storm”.

Other songs included in the show were “Midnight in Harlem”, “Bound for Glory”, and “More and More”. “I Pity the Fool” really showcased Tedeschi’s vocals as the band covered this Bobby Blue Bland classic with style. Also revived for the evening was “Don’t Miss Me” from The Derek Trucks band era featuring Mike Mattison on vocals.

This show was yet another impeccable musical display of these two exceptionally gifted musicians.

ImagePerhaps the band that most lived up to the tour name “Wheels of Soul” was Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings.

This act is kind of a throwback to the old Motown Records days and could easily be compared to the legendary Funk Brothers that played on all those old hits that came from that famous record factory.

Sharon Jones is loaded with as much soul singing power as anyone from those Detroit days and she really keeps the show percolating. Along with backup singers, full horn section, as well as dual guitarists and congas, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings had the crowd on their feet after the first song.

Jones’ performance was non-stop as she jitter stepped back and forth across the stage and played to the crowd the entire show. High energy entertainment is an understatement when trying to describe this act.

Music from Austin is still alive and well thanks in part to performers like Doyle Bramhall II. Considering Bramhall’s early life hanging out with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and his father Doyle senior, it’s no wonder that some of those influences would rub off on him.

ImageBramhall II has been making his own mark in music for some time now, not only with his bands Smokestack and Arc Angels but also writing and performing in Eric Clapton’s band for a number of years.

Although his set was short Bramhall made the most of it with his raggedly polished and powerful blues playing. Highlights from Bramhall’s set included “Angel” and “Time”.

 Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings took the stage for the encore numbers after TTB’s set filling the stage with close to twenty musicians. Horns aplenty blazed as renditions of The Box Top’s hit “The Letter” and the Etta James R&B standard “Tell Mama” were performed. Both Jones and Tedeschi shared vocals duties which made for a great match up.

The final song of the evening was a Sly Stone medley of “Sing a Simple Song” and “Higher”. And higher is where these artists left the crowd as the show ended on this hot July night.