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Concert Reviews:
Tedeschi Trucks' Wheels Of Steel Tour rolls at Freedom Hill

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Monday, August 1, 2016

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STERLING HEIGHTS -- When it comes to music, few play nicer with others than Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.

Their own 12-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band is proof of that, of course, but the husband-wife duo has spent the past few summers establishing the troupe as perhaps the best musical hang of the season -- last year with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, the year before on the road with the Black Crowes. And This year's Wheels Of Soul Tour with Los Lobos and the North Mississippi Allstars, which stopped Sunday, July 31, at the Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, evolves the concept, a celebration of kindred creative spirits that's driven by a genuine musical generosity, both with each other and for the audience.

Each of the groups is a formidable live entity in its own right, and on Sunday they each lived up to their august reputations. But Wheels Of Soul is driven by its collaborations, and Sunday's show boasted plenty of blow-you-away moments amidst its nearly three hours of music. It didn't take long to start, either; A couple of the TTB singers joined the NMAS for a pairing of "Move Along Train" and "Back Back Train," while Trucks lent his slide skills to a rendition of T-Bone Walker's "Mean Old World."

Dickinson -- whose tour MVP status included not only playing with both other bands but also scooping ice for TTB's Dark n' Stormy cocktails backstage after the show -- joined Los Lobos for Fats Domino's "The Fat Man," while Tedeschi and another couple of TTB singers led a soaring, and Motown appropriate, version of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." Then Trucks -- with TTB's drummers and horn section in town -- ripped through a fiery "Mas y Mas," trading guitar licks with Lobos' David Hidalgo.

TTB's two-hour set, of course, left plenty of room for guests. Dickinson and Trucks played in and out of each other on epic, extended jams on "I Want More" and the Allen Toussaint's "Get Out of My Life, Woman." Lobos' Cesar Rosas joined in to help TTB absolutely nail its first-ever performance of Bobby Womack's "Across 110th Street," and the encores found Hidalgo joining in for Derek and the Dominos' "Keep On Growing" and, along with Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin, a buoyant, night-closing romp through Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere."

All of these, of course, only elevated a show that would have been top-shelf even if the groups stuck to themselves -- from NMAS' salute to Buddy Guy's 80th birthday with his "Baby Please Don't Leave Me" to Lobos' medley of the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," its own "I Can't Understand" and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" and a mid-show cover of George Jones' "Color of the Blues" by just Tedeschi -- who, by the way, more than holds her own as a guitar soloist -- and a pair of the TTB band singers. The music and the musicianship provided all the spectacle and sizzle the night needed and left anyone at Freedom Hill hoping the Wheels Of Soul will roll back this way next summer in some shape or form.

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