Susan Tedeschi brings the blues back home

A review of Susan Tedeschi at the South Shore Music Circus on June 28, 2009

, Staff
The blues were in full swing on yet another rainy evening at the South Shore Music Circus on Sunday where Norwell native Susan Tedeschi played to a packed crowd. Tedeschi incorporates blues, jazz, rock and a hint of country making her one of the must see acts around. The homegrown Grammy nominated, multi-talented musician can belt out a chorus like Janis Joplin and strike a chord on the guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Wearing jeans and a purple velvet jacket accented with a scarf, Tedeschi’s voice has not wavered since her debut album Better Days, released in 1995. Back then, it was her voice people were recognizing but her guitar skills were less than stellar. Jamming with husband Derek Trucks (of the Allman Brothers Band) has clearly helped hone her guitar skills.

With only an oriental rug on the stage and soft blue and purple lighting, this was a show purely about musical talent and the Music Circus’ rotating stage gave every audience member an intimate jam session feel.

Tedeschi opened the set with “Can’t Sleep At Night”, the last song off her latest album Back To The River which was released last year. Backed by her all male band, Tedeschi belted “Love Will” singing, “This is a man’s world. … This ain’t no place for little girls”. The lyrics are far from the truth as Tedeschi can hold her own with her signature guitar licks and soulful voice. When she belted out certain crowd favorites& “It Hurt So Bad” and “Rock Me Right” from her Grammy nominated album Just Won’t Burn some audience members got up and danced, but for the most part everyone sat in their seats taking in the slick guitar riffs and moving to the beat of the drums, as if they were in an intimate blues club.

Tedeschi interacted with all her band members, smiling at drummer Tyler Greenwell as he pounded on the drums during “700 Houses.” She explained she wrote the song about the massive storms that have impacted the US and her adopted home of Florida, which bears the brunt of the devastation the storms bring. Tenor Sax player Ron Holloway is no stranger to the music scene, playing with the likes of Little Feat, Peter Frampton, the Allman Brothers Band and Dizzy Gillespie’s Quintet. Holloway received much praise from the crowd with his flawless sax solos. Guitarist Dave Yoke and bass guitarist Ted Pecchio performed well, but Greenwell and Holloway received the most praise from Tedeschi as she would periodically look up from her guitar and smile at them when she heard something she liked.

Before playing the title track off the album, Back To The River, she told the audience she was happy to get back to her roots, “getting back to the river, the North River,” referring to the North River which runs through numerous South Shore towns including her hometown. Keyboardist Matt Slocum’s use of the Hammond B-3 Organ gave the song a 70s jazz feel accompanied by Tedeschi’s funky guitar riffs. Tedeschi sang Blind Faith’s “Presence of the Lord,” written by one of her major musical influences, Eric Clapton, who has said the song finally gave him a reason to live and get sober after years of heavy drug use.

As the show drew to a close, Tedeschi received a standing ovation from the crowd and thanked her family, friends and fans for coming out before coming back to the mic proclaiming “we are gonna keep playing till they kick us out”. She immediately went into The Beatles “For No One” which was slow for an encore but fit Tedeschi’s voice perfectly.

The set ended with “The Feeling Music Brings” as she sang “I’m gonna be thankful for this feeling that music brings” which had the audience standing and clapping as if everyone was crowded into a rollicking Southern Baptist Church on a Sunday evening. She mixed up the ending of the song singing “I’m so thankful for my grandfather. I’m so thankful for my father,” who were sitting in the front row with other family members who could not& have been prouder to see their girl bringing down the house, or in this case the tent.

Opening act Shemekia Copeland quickly got the audience into a blues mood. As soon as she took the stage concertgoers scrambled to their seats to hear the singer belt out some serious tunes. Copeland’s voice was a powerhouse filled with passion and anger as she sang “Ghetto Child” and “Never Going Back To Memphis.” She had the crowd clapping to the beat of the songs and mesmerized by her vocal range. At one point Copeland walked away from the microphone while singing, filling the tent with her soulful voice. “Can you hear me”? she asked. The crowd ate it up. Copeland was the perfect act to start the night off and will surely be headlining her own shows in the future.

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