Tedeschi Trucks Band's San Antonio performance led the audience on a soulful journey

Most of the material from the band's Boeing Center performance was off its most recent album, and it offered a showcase for the individual members' brilliance.

click to enlarge The Tedeschi Trucks band weaves its magic on Saturday night in San Antonio. - Mark Sobhani
Mark Sobhani
The Tedeschi Trucks band weaves its magic on Saturday night in San Antonio.

The 12-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band rolled through San Antonio Saturday night, treating the crowd to an uplifting set of blues, rock and soul that highlighted its individual members within a larger sonic tapestry.

With two drummers, bass, keys, horns and backup singers, the ensemble could, at first glance, seem to embody the kitchen sink approach to assembling a band. However, there’s a lot of subtlety to what the Tedeschi Trucks Band delivered at during its show at Boeing Center at Tech Port.

Chalk much of that up to its talented leaders.

Guitar maestro Derek Trucks is the nephew of Allmans drummer Butch Trucks. The guitarist met his wife, guitar and vocal powerhouse Susan Tedeschi, when the former was a very young member of the Allmans and her band opened.

Tedeschi was riding the wave of a budding solo career, on the rise with solo albums that had critics comparing her to Bonnie Raitt. In 2010, Tedeschi and Trucks combined their respective solo acts and called it … well, you know.

TTB — as the fans have shortened the handle — has now been working the road for just north of a decade. That experience was on display Saturday with a set that pulled primarily from last year’s 24-song epic LP I Am the Moon, the source of 10 of the 15 songs on the setlist.

The Allman Brothers was a guitar band, having hosted luminary six-string slingers from Duane Allman to Dickey Betts to Warren Haynes to Trucks himself. So, it’s no surprise the centerpiece of the show was “Pasaquan,” a 20-minute psychedelic guitar showcase that allowed Trucks to rip a hole in the space-time continuum.

The set built to that moment, which itself took listeners back to the dawn where the world began via a drum breakdown between Tyler Greenwell and Isaac Eady. But the delight is in the journey. You can’t just walk out and drop something like that on the audience, ya know?

While Tedeschi and the horns left the stage for “Pasaquan,” the singer-guitarist was a commanding presence for the rest of the time. Her soulful vocals lit up the room for opener “Playing With My Emotions” and were also a highlight of TTB’s cover of Blind Joe Reynolds’ “Outside Woman Blues,” a song introduced to rock audiences by Cream.

TTB is a band. There’s no denying they serve the music. After the opening tune, keyboardist-vocalist Gabe Dixon — a relatively new member — led the group through “Ain’t That Something.” Let’s be honest: when two names are in the marquee, you don’t expect the second song to be sung by a third member.

Acoustic guitarist-vocalist Mike Mattison got his chance to step forward on “Fall In,” which allowed Trucks to drop tasteful licks over the bouncy, Beatles-flavored chord progression. His guitar work complimented, rather than competed with, Mattison’s soulful voice.

But, in the end, there’s a reason that Tedeschi and Trucks are the mainstays.

Great lead playing is often synonymous with being able to mimic the subtleties of the human voice, and Derek Trucks nailed that repeatedly. The rest of the band provided such a fertile bed that it was a pleasure to hear Tedeschi belt out a line and Trucks respond in kind — as if they’re singing a duet. If you want to know the essence of the two bandleaders’ partnership, it's right there: the simple joy of self-expression.

While Tedeschi also plays a mean guitar, there’s something special about Trucks’ phrasing, which varies greatly song to song. Combined with his signature tone, the package is something special.

TTB followed “Pasquan” with the appropriately titled “How Blue Can You Get?” before bidding the crowd goodnight. The encore featured “So Long Savior”— also from I Am the Moon — and closed with “Made Up Mind,” the title track from the band’s 2013 album.

If the audience was disappointed that recent material comprised most of the set, no one let on. They'd been on the promised journey through the history of some of the best music styles this country has produced. No guarantees on what you’ll see along the way, just that it will be beautiful.

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