Tedeschi Trucks Band Welcomes Trey Anastasio At 2017 Beacon Theatre Finale
The Tedeschi Trucks Band ended the seventh installment of their annual Beacon Theatre run in New York City on Saturday night. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks led their dynamic ensemble for the sixth and final show of this year’s run with help from Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio during a 40-minute portion of the second set. Trey wasn’t the only guest as super sub Carey Frank lent a hand on piano for two songs.
Saturday’s show was “An Evening With” affair, which meant two full sets from the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The 12-piece returned as strong as they’ve ever been in 2017, as Derek and Susan have found the perfect chemistry and had time to blend into form since the last lineup change a few years back. Multi-instrumentalist Kofi Burbridge was on fire throughout the evening, a good sign considering he’s less than four months removed from undergoing emergency heart surgery. Frank subbed for Kofi from the time Burbridge entered the hospital through the start of the Beacon run. Carey had a pair of chances to show off his massive skill set, and provide the capacity crowd with thrilling double keyboard jams, on “Chevrolet” in the second set and as part of the “Bound For Glory” finale. Burbridge not only displayed exquisite interplay with his mates on keys, he also added flute to the proceedings at points and accompanied Susan on a gorgeous “A Song For You” to begin the encore.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band opened with a vibrant “Keep On Growing” from the band that helped give Trucks his first name, Derek & The Dominos. Susan starred in the first set in belting out “Made Up Mind,” “Until You Remember” and “Midnight In Harlem” using three different vocal approaches to three very different songs. As always, Derek let it rip during “Midnight In Harlem,” an original that is frequently a highlight of a show at which it is played. Mike Mattison also had a standout moment when he sang the group’s second ever cover of Toots & The Maytals’ “Sailing On.” The reggae groove provided a nice progression for the TTB to jam on and hopefully “Sailing On” is a permanent addition to the repertoire. Susan stepped back into the spotlight to front the Tedeschi Trucks Band on a blistering “The Storm” to bring the opening stanza to a close.
With Trey Anastasio’s favorite guitar set up on stage at setbreak, it became not a question of if but when Trey would sit-in. Susan once again showed why she is a driving force of the project over the course of the first two songs of the second set: “Don’t Let Me Slide” a “Do I Look Worried.” Burbridge and Frank shined on the aforementioned “Chevrolet” before the one-two punch of “Isn’t It A Pity” (George Harrison) and “The Letter” (The Boxtops) brought the house down. “I Want More” was another full band, rock-em soul-em affair in which the TTB flexed their musical muscles including one of the group’s secret weapons – trombonist Elizabeth Lea. Then, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Free To Be Free” showcased the group’s backing vocalists with longtime NYC resident Alecia Chakour receiving extra love from the adoring crowd.
A little after 10:45 Susan stepped to the mic and welcomed “our friend Trey.” Anastasio emerged from the wings to front the group on a cover of Leon Russell’s “Delta Lady.” The Tedeschi Trucks Band had been using “Delta Lady” as a vehicle for guests since their debut performance of the song as part of a Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Celebrate Joe Cocker set at Lockn’ in 2015. Anastasio unveiled his rendition of “Delta Lady” earlier this year with his TAB project in Russell’s home state of Oklahoma. The TTB’s singers and horn players then left the stage as Anastasio, Tedeschi, Trucks, Burbridge, bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummers J.J. Johnson and Tyler Greenwell lit into “Mountain Jam.”
Saturday marked the debut Tedeschi Trucks Band version of “Mountain Jam” and TTAB were true to the multiple movements found in versions from the early and late lineups of the Allman Brothers Band. The Allman Brothers Band featuring Derek Trucks and Jimmy Herring revived “Mountain Jam” during Herring’s tour of duty with the group in the Summer of 2000 after only playing small portions of the song since the ABB’s 1989 reunion. Some of the 2000 takes were so free-form, Gregg Allman infamously yelled “OK, who’s the fucking Phish fan? That was too much” after a particularly insane version in Holmdel, New Jersey. Trey sat-in with the Allmans on “Mountain Jam” in Vermont on August 28, 2005; years after Haynes returned to the spot Herring occupied for a tour. Anastasio has also become fond of teasing the main theme at Phish shows of late.
And what a “Mountain Jam” it was on Saturday night. The septet patiently worked through each and every segment of the instrumental based on Donovan’s “There Is A Mountain” and subsequent improvisations on his versions by the Grateful Dead and Herbie Mann. Anastasio had held back at some previous Allman family sit-ins, yet Trey let it rip in a tasteful way at the Beacon. There were few sour notes throughout the truly epic 32-minute “Mountain Jam.” Trey and Derek played off each other impeccably and both sported huge smiles as they hit the song’s main theme towards the start and for the grand finale. Lefevbre’s solo was inspired and true to Berry Oakley’s approach to the bass solo and bass bridge. Another standout moment of the wild “Mountain Jam” was the ethereal blues-soul progression the seven-piece hit ahead of the final run of the main theme. Trucks worked in hints of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” that Anastasio quickly picked up on.
The Beacon crowd roared with approval at the end of “Mountain Jam” and didn’t relent until Susan and Kofi returned to the stage. Burbridge and Tedeschi gave an emotional performance of a “Song For You” before the rest of the band came back with Carey Frank in tow. The TTB and Carey Frank said farewell with a euphoric “Bound For Glory” that gave Derek one more chance to work the audience into a frenzy with his slide skills. While the passings of Butch Trucks and Gregg Allman brought the chance of another Allman Brothers Band March Madness run down to zero, TTB Rocktoberfest is a fine tradition of its own on New York City’s Upper West Side.
Watch videos of both songs Trey sat-in on: