Indianapolis, IN. – With the heatwave temporarily over, fans were treated to beautiful weather for the Wheels of Soul 2019 tour stop at The Lawn at White River State Park. Headliner the Tedeschi Trucks Band, a collaboration between singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks, always pick a couple of additional acts to add to the bill – this year featuring Shovels & Rope and Blackberry Smoke.
The night kicked off promptly with the Charleston, South Carolina duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, a married couple performing as Shovels & Rope. Putting out a powerful sound for just two people they traded instruments throughout alternating between guitar, drums and keys as well as lead vocals. I heard tinges of gospel and old-time Delta blues as distilled through a mesh of sixties classic rock.
Next on stage was Blackberry Smoke hailing from Atlanta, Georgia and looking every bit the part of a southern rock band. This lineup of Charlie Starr (guitar, lead vocals), Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals) and Brandon Still (keyboards) effortlessly spun out heartbreak ballads and country shuffles very much in the vain of genre forerunners like the Allman Brothers Band, Marshall Tucker Band, or the Charlie Daniels Band. A solid performance overall and well received by the fans.
After a brief gear change over (the crew had this dialed in), Susan led the Tedeschi Trucks Band on stage to a roar from the crowd. The ensemble is comprised of Susan Tedeschi (lead vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar), Derek Trucks (lead guitar), Tyler Greenwell (drums, percussion), J.J. Johnson (drums, percussion), Mike Mattison (harmony vocals, acoustic guitar), Mark Rivers (harmony vocals), Alecia Chakour (harmony vocals), Kebbi Williams (saxophone), Ephraim Owens (trumpet), Elizabeth Lea (trombone) and Brandon Boone (bass) – new keyboardist Gabe Dixon had big shoes to fill with the tragic loss earlier this year of original TTB Kofi Burbridge and he seemed to have it well in hand adding some really organic piano and organ licks.
A clear, articulate sound mix coupled with rich, color-saturated lighting perfectly accompanied the dynamics of the band on stage. The sound of the band has seemed to mature and somehow deepen over time, with the arrangements seamlessly allowing every member space to shine without distracting from the storytelling of the song. As is their habit, TTB always invites the evening earlier performers back on stage for a song or two. Tonight Michael and Cary Ann from Shovels & Rope joined Susan on vocals for a stunning reading of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and singer/guitarist Charlie Starr as well as guitarist Paul Jackson from Blackberry Smoke helped drive the classic blues “Key to the Highway” into the guitar stratosphere along side Derek and Susan. The set also featured the title track “Signs, High Times” and “When Will I Begin” off the 2019 Fantasy Records release of Signs. Reaching back to their second album to close the show with “Made Up My Mind” the band then returned to perform a jaw-dropping “Midnight In Harlem” before bringing everyone back on stage to jam out obscure 70’s Joe Cocker cover tune “Space Captain”.
The joy and positive energy of the departing fans was obvious – even the security and staff seemed extra exuberant. This feel good night of extraordinary musicianship is rolling through the states through November. Check for dates here. If you can’t make it this year, be smart now and plan head for the 2020 incarnation of the Wheels of Soul tour! In the meantime, enjoy pictures from the show below.
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Setlist: TTB Indianapolis
- Laugh About It
- Do I Look Worried
- Signs, High Times
- When Will I Begin
- Part of Me
- Idle Wind
- Leavin’ Trunk (Sleepy John Estes cover)
- Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (Bob Dylan cover) *featuring Shovels & Rope
- Key to the Highway (Charles Segar cover) *featuring Charlie Starr & Paul Jackson of Blackberry Smoke
- More and More (Little Milton cover)
- Made Up My More
- Midnight In Harlem
- Space Captain (Joe Cocker cover) *featuring members of Shovels & Rope/Blackberry Smoke