Derek Trucks Band with Tony Furtado and the All-American Gypsies
January 31, 2003 | Gothic Theatre | Englewood, CO
historic Gothic Theatre hosted the Derek
Trucks Band in the midst of their ten-city tour of Colorado. The art-deco
craftsmanship adorning the interior of this venue was a fitting environment
for the musicianship it witnessed. Tony Furtado
and the American Gypsies opened the evening with abundant flair with tunes
ranging from bluegrass, blues and folk to flat-out, jaw-dropping jams. This
double-billed event, expected to continue through its current tour schedule,
meshes two bands that each showcase an amazing guitarist. At the end of the
night, the audience had been treated to such a diversity of musical styles that
it seemed more like four or five bands had taken the stage.
Furtado's Band, who now call Portland, Oregon home, played a fourteen song
set in which Tony employed four guitars (two acoustic) and one banjo during
his performance. Tony's current preference seems to be acoustic guitar, used
in almost half of their songs. Standouts included "Stagger Lee" -
"A pretty song about a mean guy," Mr. Furtado premised - "St.
John's Fire," and "Oh Berta, Berta." Kofi Burbridge from Derek
Truck's band joined at mid-set to play flute for two songs. Guitarist Gawain
Mathews provided ample pyrotechnics to balance Tony's acoustic instrumentation.
In the spirit of sharing, Gawain later joined DTB to assist with a couple of
their newer tunes. Overall, the mix of acoustic, rhythmic interplay was well
received by the near-capacity audience. Moments of brilliance did occur, such
as in their finale, but not as often as I would have hoped.
Derek Trucks Band is not quite a household
name, but give it time. Those who've experienced shows from his early prodigious
career are now being treated to an artist who has found his voice. Derek was
blessed with the opportunity to grow up within an extended family of musicians.
His membership with the Allman Brothers Band
since 1999 has clearly given him "big-time" exposure that he now is
channeling into his own band. The Gothic was sold-out before he took the stage.
While the ABB rich repertoire of music affords Derek ample range to explore
his craft, DTB's latest album, Joyful Noise is a testament to
more worldly influences from Pakistani Qawwali and Latin salsa to more familiar
jam genres of blues, soul, jazz and funk. DTB's thirteen-song set this evening
exemplified this spectrum of cultures.
only a brief break between bands, DTB's single set opened with "Preachin
Blues," a song that introduced many audience members to Mike Mattison,
the band's singer since May of last year. "Kam-ma-lay" followed and
the band built it as a salsa-tinged groove. Yonrico Scott's drum solo
transitioned into the bouncy blues of "Gonna Move." Yonrico's exaggerated
facial expressions alone are worth the price of admission. The band then moved
into "Sahib Teri" and its trance-like rhythms of Sufi tradition.
this tour, the band is starting to introduce newer songs. One of these, entitled
"Mike's Tune" indicates the contributions of their vocalist. These
jams were soulful with Derek playing slide guitar and partaking in dramatic
musical interplay with his bandmates. Yonrico's drum solo on Mike's Tune introduced
Gawain Mathews of Tony Furtado's band to join for a couple songs. After
Gawain's intense solo, Kofi Burbridge delivered a funky flute solo. I
noticed Derek make eye contact with Kofi towards the end of his performance
and Kofi started softening his play as a transition to Todd Smallie who
stepped into a tight bass solo that segued into a drum solo. After Yonrico "spoke"
his piece, Derek and Gawain brought us home with dueling guitars. This was a
jazz band in action.
15" followed and the sound-activated dancing Homer Simpson doll on Todd's
amp got a work-out from the groove. "Home in your Heart" and "Everything
is Everything" followed. Somebody put something in Todd's water because
he started grinning uncontrollably during his solo leading into "Going
Down Slow." Mike's emotional vocal contributions really shine on blues
numbers. His growling phrases such as "leavin on the next train, goin'
down slow," let you feel his blues. Derek's deep solo then mirrored this
sentiment. Mike has a reserved stage presence which is not a bad thing but it
will be interesting to see how his performance develops as he gains greater
comfort from experiences on this tour.
Todd switched to his 6-string bass for "Pedro" while Kofi and Derek
volleyed riffs at each other. Apparently Kofi won this match as Derek broke
a string. He had been playing his red Gibson guitar autographed by Walter "Wolfman"
Washington throughout the evening and he was handed his custom Washburn gold
guitar to finish the song with a powerful jam. "Joyful Noise" concluded
the set with its funky gospel style that got the house jumping. The lone encore,
"Afro Blue" sealed the deal. This band's ability to meld styles is
truly exceptional. The Derek Trucks Band is heading down the road, handing out
a little something different for everyone. As they continue to expand their
musical horizons, it should be an interesting ride.
Words: Haig Assadourian
Photos: Tony Stack
JamBase | Denver
Go See Live Music!