Music & Nightlife

Tedeschi Trucks’ musical summer love fest rolls on in shadow of recent loss

Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Tedeschi Trucks Band.

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of married musicians Derek Trucks (formerly of the Allman Brothers Band) and Grammy-winning blues singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi’s “Wheels of Soul Tour.” Fans look forward to it annually, and trust the acts the Jacksonville-based band stacks the bill with make it worth getting to your seat early.

This year’s tour, which includes Blackberry Smoke and Shovels & Rope, is their first since losing longtime Trucks’ bandmate Kofi Burbridge, who died Feb. 15 — the same day the band’s new album “Signs” was released. Trucks spoke to the Observer this week about the tour’s anniversary, making “Signs,” and playing it without Burbridge.

Q. Where did the idea for the “Wheels of Soul Tour” come from?

A. When we got the idea to do a tour like this we were the middle band on a similar tour with the Black Crowes and London Souls. A week into tour, it was already this amazing hang with the three bands. It just dawned on us that this is what we should do every summer.

Q. What was that first year like?

A. We really lucked out. We had Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and our friend Doyle Bramhall. That was an amazing connection. We were lucky to know her before she got real sick. We’ve had a lot of people we’ve admired on the tour.

Q. Were you and Susan apprehensive about having a band together?

A. We were together almost 10 years before we decided to put our bands on the road together, and we were already married with kids before we even considered having a band together. You have to get to know someone. (Laughs.) It was really about wanting to be with each other and with the kids (who are now 17 and 14). There were times before when our buses would pass each other on I-95.

Q. How was it recording “Signs” given that it became your last record with Kofi?

A. I think it was therapeutic for the band in a lot of ways. A lot had gone down in the two years before. Sometimes when you got done writing a tune, you wanted to immediately play it. (Others) — like “The Ending,” the last song on the record — we played one time when we recorded it and that will probably be it.

Q. What’s it been like playing the new songs live?

The whole feeling of playing it live changed. We wrote all of these songs with Kofi and recorded with Kofi, but we never got to play it live. It’s kind of what it turned into the day it was released. It’s something that will probably age well. He was a huge part of it. (In the studio) we were celebrating having him back in the mix because he’d been sick. (Burbridge had a heart attack in 2017.) Seeing him do things he’d never done before — like conduct a string quartet and seeing his charts out there — I realized how special it was. The start of the record is Kofi. We thought that should be the first thing you hear. It was already a celebration of him.

Some of the older songs are hard to play. His B3 (organ) is such a huge part of “Midnight in Harlem.” There’s a song or two every night you feel his presence on stage. You just can’t not feel it. You’ll look across the stage every night and see someone in the band having a moment. He got a lot done while he was here. I got to spend 22 years with him, off and on — pushing 20 on the road together. It’s pretty lucky to get to hang out with someone like that for that long. Those are the things you try to lean on.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

When: 7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd.

Tickets: $29-$199.

Details: 704-549-5555; www.livenation.com.

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