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Tedeschi Trucks Band to release live ‘Layla Revisited’ set featuring Trey Anastasio

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Tedeschi Trucks Band to release live ‘Layla Revisited’ set featuring Trey Anastasio (Photo courtesy of Stuart Levine Photography)

When Tedeschi Trucks Band and friends performed at Arrington, VA’s annual four-day jam-centric LOCKN Festival on August 24, 2019, they unleashed a set for the ages. Special guests Trey Anastasio of Phish and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II joined Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and their 10-piece band, for a searing performance of Derek and the Dominos’ epic 1970 double album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.” The set was mixed by Trucks, Bobby Tis and Brian Speiser, and is due for release on July 16 on vinyl, CD and digital download.

The connections between the “Layla” album and Tedeschi Trucks Band have long been a topic of conversation among fans.

When Eric Clapton formed Derek and the Dominos with American-born musicians Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon in 1970, the group name afforded the guitarist a degree of anonymity following the mega-success of Cream and the too-much-too-soon supergroup hype that caused Blind Faith to implode the previous year.

Recorded in Miami between August and October 1970, “Layla” is perhaps rock’s greatest album of unrequited love, created at a time when Clapton was hopelessly obsessed with the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. The Dominos first act was to become Harrison’s backing band earlier in the summer during the recording of the triple album “All Things Must Pass.”

In steamy Florida in late August, producer Tom Dowd arranged a union of Derek and the Dominos with the Allman Brothers Band, whose second album, “Idlewild South” he’d just finished producing. After some studio jams, Duane Allman stayed behind to add further fire to the Dominos’ lineup on slide guitar.

The “Layla” album, a blend of original impassioned soulful blues and some carefully chosen covers, was released on Susan Tedeschi’s birthday, November 9, 1970.

Derek Trucks, nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, was named after Clapton’s adopted moniker.

“By the time I started playing guitar, the sound of Duane Allman’s slide was almost an obsession,” Trucks said of the “Layla” album in a statement. “My dad would play that record for me and my brother to fall asleep to and further sear it into my DNA.”

Trucks eventually went on to become a member of The Allman Brothers band, where he cemented his reputation as one of the premiere guitarists of his generation over 15 years of recording and touring. He left the Allmans in 2014, four years after forming Tedeschi Trucks Band with his wife, guitarist and vocalist Susan Tedeschi.

Both Trucks and left-handed guitarist Bramhall had been selected by Clapton to join his touring band in 2006 and 2007 when he performed a good chunk of the “Layla” album in concert for the first time since his 1970 Dominos days. The younger guitarists’ presence in Clapton’s band seemed to light a fire within him that resulted in some of his most inspired performances in years.

The “Layla” set performed at the 2019 LOCKN’ Festival had been a well-kept secret up to showtime. Tedeschi and Trucks had joined the Trey Anastasio Band during their performance the night before, and while the TTB audience expected Anastasio to return the favor, they knew nothing of the band’s intention to finally unleash the “Layla” album in concert.

The resulting performance was executed with the perfect blend of reverence, spontaneity and fire. Arrangements remained mostly faithful to the original versions, with just enough room built in for the musicians to add their own flair. Nobody overplays or oversings, there’s no showboating … just sublime musicianship and a wonderful spirit that somehow seemed to channel that of the original.

The Tedeschi-Trucks Band horn section, consisting of Kebbi Williams, Elizabeth Lea, and Ephraim Owens, adds subtle color to the arrangements and marks the only significant deviation in instrumentation compared with the original version.

Trucks acted as band director, signaling musicians with a smile or nod. A beaming Anastasio, who has gone on record referring to Trucks as “without question my favorite guitar player,” proved a perfect counterpoint to Trucks and Tedeschi, as he was positioned between the two, alternating between lead and rhythm guitar.

Highlights included a particularly incendiary take on “Keep on Growing,” one of several “Layla” tracks that have appeared in TTB setlists over the years, including the rocker “Anyday,” on which Anastasio and Trucks swap solos.

Tedeschi Truck Band’s Mike Mattison had some of the most impressive vocals of the evening, often trading lines with Tedeschi. She shares vocals with Bramhall on the Bessie Smith blues standard “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.”

The delicate “I Am Yours” has some stunning harmony guitar interplay between Trucks and Anastasio, mirroring the late hours vibe of the original.

The guitarists weave solos around each other, each offering distinctly different tones. For much of the set, Trucks sticks close to his favored Gibson SG guitar while Anastasio plays his trademark hollow-body Languedoc guitar. Elsewhere, Trucks plays his 1957 Gibson Goldtop guitar which has a serial number one digit away from that of Duane Allman’s Gibson.

Bramhall and Tedeschi trade guitar solos and lead vocals on the blues standard “Key to the Highway,” one of the “Layla” album’s five cover songs, including Billy Myles “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” which saw Anastasio and Tedeschi trade vocals.

The funky “Tell the Truth” and the emotionally charged “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” were beautifully played with the nuance and vitality of the originals, and it was clear from viewing the webcast that the musicians were having as much fun as the audience.

The band has stated on social media that there are no current plans for a Blu-ray or DVD release of the concert, although pro-shot video for “Why Does Love…” was issued in tandem with the press release announcing this live album.

The title song, “Layla,” is still a classic rock staple more than five decades after it was recorded. At LOCKN, Tedeschi gave the chestnut a full-hearted lead vocal as Trucks dug in for some blazing slide, especially during the coda when he was joined by Anastasio and Bramhall. It’s a testament to the musicians’ taste that they didn’t slay “Layla” with overly bombastic soloing. They keep the heat by remaining steadfast to the original. Trucks even replicates Allman’s famous bird call guitar notes in the final seconds.

Bobby Whitlock’s tender album closing “Thorn Tree in the Garden” was the only track from the “Layla” album not performed live by the musicians although the original version was played for the crowd as the musicians left the stage.

For “Layla Revisited,” Tedeschi and Trucks recorded a studio version of the Whitlock song to complete the album.

“Layla Revisited” will be available in several three-LP color vinyl versions. Due to worldwide vinyl production issues, only the black vinyl version will be available to ship on street date. According to social media, the TTB store will offer an exclusive color version for pre-order while indie record stores will receive cobalt blue vinyl. Color vinyl won’t be available until late August at the earliest. The release will also be available on CD and digital download on July 16.

Tedeschi and Trucks plan to return to the stage this summer with the "Fireside Live" tour, their first concerts in 15 months. They'll play limited capacity shows featuring varying versions of the group lineup. According to a press release, the concerts will be held in venues that take strict precautions to ensure the safety of fans, band and staff.

The first leg of the tour is scheduled to begin on July 11 in the band's home city of Jacksonville, Florida and will continue to July 31st at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, in Morrison, Colorado. Further dates are expected to be announced soon.

(You can also check out this video - the only one released from the show thus far - here.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 May 2021 09:50


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