For fans of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, its annual summer tours have become a feel-good, seasonal highlight full of incredible musicianship, unpredictable setlists, and collaborations with hand-picked opening acts that have a rich history and devoted fan base of their own.
And with this year’s passing of co-bandleader Derek Trucks’ former Allman Brothers band mates Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks (his uncle), Sunday’s show at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre may be even more special for fans than usual.
Trucks spoke to The Observer Wednesday from Virginia Beach about the family tour, recent losses and how no two shows are alike.
Q. Given the loss in your musical family this year, has playing been cathartic for you guys?
A. Absolutely. Even going into this tour with (keyboardist) Kofi Burbridge – I’ve been playing with him for 18 years. He had major heart surgery four days before the tour started. Good to be playing music and surrounded with everybody. It’s cathartic. Playing some of the tunes, you can tell the audience needs it to. A lot of that music meant a lot to a lot of people for a long time. It’s good to see.
Q. It seems like every year you bring some acts out with you who you can collaborate with on stage. How did Hot Tuna and the Wood Brothers get involved this time around?
A. We’re long-time fans and friends. I’ve known Oliver (Wood) since I was 12 or 13. I’ve known (former Jefferson Airplane guitarist and bassist) Jorma (Kaukonen) and Jack (Casady) for quite a while. This one feels like a big touring family. Our drummer Tyler (Greenwell) played with the Wood Brothers. Really, when we put these tours together, it’s more about what bands do you want to hang out with and listen to for a month?
Q. You had the late Sharon Jones with you a few years ago.
A. That was an amazing run. She was dealing with health issues at the time and seeing her blast through it (was great). She didn’t let anyone down.
Q. Have you ever had a live collaboration that just didn’t connect?
A. Not really. You get on the road and see how it works out. We didn’t have a lot of song ideas that would fit with the other bands until we hit the road. We’ve learned when it happens naturally, it seems to be better. Everyone is hanging out after shows and talking about what songs they want to do. We’re just getting into the thick of it, but there’s a lot more of that going now. Most of the musicians we’d invite on stage would know how to improvise and get in the moment. I don’t know if anyone would know if it wasn’t working. We could probably shoulder it. Especially with the Wheels of Soul tour, we’re careful about who we’re touring with. From Los Lobos to Doyle Bramhall III, from Sharon to Hot Tuna, everybody is pretty comfortable in a lot of different situations.
Q. Can you imagine playing a pop show where every second is choreographed and the same each night?
A. I cannot. I’m not cut out for that. I feel very fortunate to be allowed and encouraged to follow your muse. Every night, you’re changing it up (according to) how the band’s feeling and the crowd is feeling. You want to play music maybe that the other bands haven’t heard yet. We aren’t bound to play any certain tune every night. It does completely change from one night to the next. There’s two or three shows where you may not repeat but maybe two songs. People would get bored.
Q. The band was more involved in the 2016 album, “Let Me Get By.” How has that informed the group now?
A. The way we made “Let Me Get By” was the template. The core of the band was in the room writing tunes together and ideas pop up on the road. After this tour, we’ll continue writing and then recording fairly soon. With the stuff Kofi is going through now, that’s probably a good way to ease back into it, get him back into the fold. The road is a little more trying than being in the studio.
Tedeschi Trucks Band
When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.
Details: 800-745-3000; www.livenation.com