Monster Band: Susan Tedeschi Q&A
Susan Tedeschi likes big families
By Jim Caligiuri,
11:31AM, Tue. Jan. 17, 2012
After being married almost a decade and raising a family, blues mama Susan Tedeschi and slide guitarist Derek Trucks joined forces – in a band. Revelator, their soulful debut, recalls traveling circus acts like Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Tomorrow, Wednesday, the 11 musicians that appear on disc kick things off in Texas at the Moody Theater.
Geezerville: So let’s talk about this monster band you have.
Susan Tedeschi: It is a monster band.
G: Are you touring with everybody that plays on the album?
ST: Yeah. It’s two buses with band and crew. We pack ‘em in.
G: It’s like a big family, isn’t it?
ST: Everybody gets along amazing. It’s a really special group because everybody is so talented. Everybody loves doing it. Everybody has been through the wringer a few times so everybody appreciates what we have as a band. It’s really nice and really unique.
G: It must help that some of the people in the band are related?
ST: Of course. They have extra super powers [laughs]. I mean Kofi and Oteil Burbridge are like superheroes on their instruments anyway, but get them together and it’s a whole other ballgame. It’s like getting Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner. They have an extra level of connection, reading each other’s mind. Then Derek does it with them and it’s like having three brothers. He’s been playing with them in one band or another, the Allman Brothers or the Derek Trucks Band, for more than a decade. But the Burbridge brothers haven’t played together in more than 20 years.
G: Listening to the album I was reminded of Delaney & Bonnie Bramblett and their days with Eric Clapton and Friends. Were you and Derek conscious of them when you put this band together?
ST: Actually we used bands like Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Delaney & Bonnie, and Derek & the Dominos as a template. They were all very incestuous with players and Leon Russell.
G: I’ve spoken with Bobby Whitlock of the Dominos, who lives in Austin now, and he tells some amazing stories about those days.
ST: We’re more like the Mad Dogs & Englishmen, but they had more like 30 people traveling with them. We have the two drummers and the horns and the musical genius on keyboards. There’s a lot of similarities.
G: Some of the songs you wrote for Revelation were with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks and Rosanne Cash’s husband John Leventhal. They also had co-writes on your last solo album. Are the newer songs leftovers or were they written for this project?
ST: What happened was that I had such a good experience writing with them, and I had never really written with anyone before other than people in my own band, that when we were writing for this record, I told Derek about them. We invited Gary down to see if anything would happen and they immediately fell in love. There was immediate chemistry. I should have known because they’re both really professional. They don’t hack their way through something. John Leventhal is such a great guitarist and producer. He can’t help but produce a song while he’s writing it and he’s so sweet and down to earth. I knew that Derek would want to work with people like that and it worked out great.
G: What does the set-list look like when the band plays? Are you doing material from both your and Derek's solo bands?
ST: We haven’t been. We wrote a ton of songs for this group and we do those while including some that haven’t been recorded yet. Some will be on the live record that’s coming later this year. We’ve been doing covers, like Stevie Wonder, Bobby Bland, and Sly & the Family Stone. We will move some of our old songs into it, but we wanted people to realize that this is a new established band. It’s not like a side project. We want people to come in and really love this group. We also wanted the people in the band to feel like they’re here from the beginning. It’s not old repertoire stuff that we’re pulling out.