Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks have nearly simultaneously released four separate recordings that together count as their fifth release as the Tedeschi Trucks Band. They began their latest world tour on June 24th. It features material from these four new albums that comprise I Am The Moon: I. Crescent, II. Ascension, III. The Fall, and IV. Farewell.
The first, I. Crescent, was available June 3rd digitally and on CD. All vinyl configurations, including individual LPs and the 4-LP I Am The Moon Deluxe Box will be available on September 9th, 2022.
These four albums raise the bar height for a group whose 12-year career was already unprecedented by the simple fact that a 12-piece blues and R&B band could survive, let alone thrive, in a world where such behemoths effectively became dinosaurs with the passing of Duke Ellington and Count Basie seven decades ago.
Both Derek and Susan were early achievers: Susan entering Berkeley College of Music at 17 and earning a B.A. at 20 with top honors and a double major and Derek who as a teenager for all practical purposes became the new Duane Allman to Warren Haynes’ Dickie Betts in The Allman Brothers: this being the band that put the southern United States on the rock map but at the expense of lifestyles that taught Derek all the things not to do if he wanted to live past his 20s as a rock star.
I Am The Moon rewrites the rules on big band styles in a post pandemic world. Derek’s patented slide guitar rips are still there, but the whole band has become way more than background for his flights. Rather, they perform more as an Americana symphony that soars more than explodes. Like Santana and The Dead, they fuse disparate influences of jazz, fusion, and multicultural R&B into songs that are BIG but not busy.
Susan may not be the only major performer in contemporary music to make it all the way through Berkeley before quitting to join a touring band, but she’s certainly unusual in how dedicated she was in that process. “I was very young when I went to college. I started at 17 and graduated at 20. I am from Lowell, Massachusetts (a small industrial city north of Boston). I was pretty sheltered. I didn’t get to go out and see the world and see cultures and everything until I went to college. That was the first time I had so much diversity around me, not just by books and records and things, but living and breathing with people and starting to get along with people, and how to communicate and how to play music together.
“I was very young, and I think that’s one reason I actually succeeded. I didn’t do drugs or do anything. I was a straight A student, and I worked really hard, and I think that really had a big influence on my success rate actually graduating from that school. I was getting a B.A. So, I wasn’t just getting a diploma. I actually have a liberal arts degree.”
Derek was the yin to Susan’s yang. He was playing guitar at eight, was sitting in with the Allman Brothers at 13 and playing in that band at 19. “I think most of the things I learned around that group were really things to avoid,” he told me in 2018. “There was a lot of broken families. They were human experiments in a lot of ways. Anything and everything was there for you. That’s not always the best thing to handle for people in their 20s and 30s. You learn how to navigate those things, but I learned a lot of lessons that are positive, too.
“My uncle (Butch Trucks, the Allman Brothers drummer) would always tell this story about playing in the early days with Duane (Allman). He was having one of those shows where he just didn’t have it. He kinda backed off. He kinda threw in the towel a little bit, and as soon as the song was over, Duane put his guitar down, came behind the drum set, got in his face and said, ‘If you ever give me less than everything you’ve got, I will kick your ass off stage.’ And my uncle said, ‘Never again.’ And he never did.”
This blitz of new Tedeschi Trucks recordings was inspired by an epic love poem written almost a thousand years ago by a Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. The poem is based on a semi historical and mystical Arabian love story about a 7th century Bedouin poet and the woman he loves. It has been referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet” of Iran. It’s called Layla and Majnun.
You read that right. The star-crossed lover in this story is named Layla. Are Susan Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks a modern-day Layla and Majnun? The threads of comparison run through their entire lives. Susan was born in 1970, the year Derek and the Dominos released “Layla.” Derek Trucks was born in 1979. His first name is a nod to Derek, who is really Eric Clapton of Derek and The Dominos. Trucks has performed with Clapton, and Susan and Derek’s love story has parallels to Layla and Majnun.
“When you think about the story of Layla, she was in love with Majnun,” explains Susan. “She wasn’t allowed to marry him, and then they locked her up in a tower. She wasn’t with anybody. So many people were definitely locked away during the pandemic and weren’t allowed to have human contact like they normally do, and how important that is to have that where you can really lose your mind and go crazy, and it’s proven to be true. Look at the mental health of the world. It’s definitely not where it should be.”
All that said, Susan and Derek’s love story is far from unrequited. “Derek and I have both worked (together) for over 20 years – or 30 years – whatever it is now. (They married in 1999 and started their band in 2010.) We spent a lot of time doing it the old-fashioned way, very organically going through this, and we built our careers over a long period of time and the two of us came together. I think it really draws people together to see how we work together ’cause we are very different, but at the same time we have a lot of things in common. Our interest in blues and jazz music and things like that, but also we pass around. It’s not just about me. It’s not just about Derek. I think people enjoy that. I think they like how we work together, and also we have incredible musicians in our band.”
Perhaps the most amazing thing about their relationship is that they’ve somehow been able to balance long world tours and recording with raising two children. “That was definitely a challenge. I had my kids in 2000 and 2004. I was doing my solo band, and Derek was in The Allman Brothers and had his own band. So, the two of us had three bands and then two children. Then by 2006 he was also playing with Clapton. So, that was three bands for him and my band for me, and two children. We were like ships in the night.
“I needed help. I had to have my sister-in-law or mother-in-law or have somebody come out with me to watch the kids when I was on stage, but I would watch them during the day unless I had a couple of interviews or something, and I’d have them watch them, but for the most part I did it all myself and it worked out really well until we started a band together. Then, it was a lot harder.
“I got to be my own boss, and I could say when I wanted to tour and when I didn’t, and I could always be home for my kids on their birthdays. I always would take time off when they had a school project or things like that. So, come 2010 the kids were eight and six years. That got a little trickier because now we were working together, and I couldn’t pull them out of school. So, that got harder. I really had to get a plan together and figure that out and, being one of the principal players, I did have a little bit to say. I can’t tour as much as Derek wants to ’cause he’ll tour 260 days a year. And I’m like no, I can’t do that. I can do 200 or 150. So, we ended up having to do that more and realizing if we want to make records, we need time for that, too.
“So, it was a lot of planning and a lot of help honestly from my sister-in-law. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without Derek’s mom ’cause she would just move in. She lived next door, and she would just move in when we were gone, so that really helped. I had a network here that when it was schooltime and we were touring, they could just go to them and when they weren’t in school, they would come on tour with us. So, they would be with us in the summer for sure on the tour buses, and they were just used to it.
“They were used to the travel. They’ve been around the world. They’ve been with us in Japan and Australia, England, France, Germany. So, they’re pretty well-rounded kids, and they’re really used to being around the band with musicians so they’re very comfortable there. So, they actually grew up a lot faster there.
“The pandemic gave everyone in the band a new perspective. It makes you appreciate your family and be more in the moment and not be so rushed and to make better decisions, not just for ourselves, but for our whole world, our whole community and world. So, yeah, I think it really did change us in a good way, you know?
“We can make better decisions now, and we can make educated decisions because you see how important it is to just do your job, but for your family and communication, being able to do this for people. That’s pretty deep. Also, this planet is changing really fast, and you need to be aware of what’s going on. You can’t do that when you’re running at a thousand miles an hour. And that’s what happens to a lot of people in the world. You’re so busy with like three jobs, two kids or whatever that you really don’t have time to stop and reflect on what’s going on.
“When the pandemic hit, our son was graduating from high school, and it was really hard on him because he didn’t get to walk, and he didn’t get a senior prom, and he didn’t get his senior this and that and all these other things, but at the same time we all got to be home together and have that moment before he went to college and that was really sweet. Our daughter has just moved out. She’s basically just finished high school and started college and going through all that now, and I think it makes you set time to be with them, and we talk to them every day whether we’re together with them or not. It’s just keeping the communication open as much as we can.
“When you think about the story of Layla, she was in love with him. She wasn’t allowed to marry Majnun, and then they locked her up in a tower. She wasn’t with anybody. So many people were definitely locked away during the pandemic and weren’t allowed to have human contact like they normally do, and how important that is to have that where you can really lose your mind and go crazy, and it’s proven to be true. Look at the mental health of the world. It’s definitely not where it should be.”
Tedeschi Trucks Band 2022 Tour Dates:
June 28 Indianapolis, IN The Amphitheater at White River State Park
June 29 Detroit, MI Fox Theatre
July 1 Canandaigua, NY Constellation Brands – Marvin Sands
Performing Arts Center
July 2 Gilford, NH Banks of New Hampshire Pavilion
July 3 Saratoga Springs, NY Saratoga Performing Arts Center
July 6 New Haven, CT Westville Music Bowl
July 8 Philadelphia, PA The Mann Center for the Performing Arts
July 9 Essex Junction, VT Midway Lawn
July 10 Patchogue, NY Great South Bay Music Festival
July 12 Lewiston, NY ArtPark
July 13 Cincinnati, OH PNC Pavilion at Riverbend
July 15 – 16 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
July 19 Vienna, VA Wolf Trap
July 20 Richmond, VA Virginia Credit Union LIVE!
July 21 Raleigh, NC Coastal Credit Union Music Park
July 23 Charlotte, NC PNC Music Pavilion
July 24 Huber Heights, OH Rose Music Center at The Heights
July 26 Aurora, IL RiverEdge Park
July 27 St. Louis, MO Fabulous Fox Theatre
July 29 – 30 Morrison, CO Red Rocks Amphitheatre
August 18 San Diego, CA Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheater
August 19 Los Angeles, CA The Greek Theatre
August 20 Berkeley, CA The Greek Theatre
August 23 Sacramento, CA Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
August 24 Eugene, OR Cuthbert Amphitheater
August 26 Auburn, WA White River Amphitheater
August 27 Bend, OR Hayden Homes Amphitheater
August 28 Reno, NV Grand Sierra Resort & Casino
August 31 Boise, ID Outlaw Field at the Idaho Botanical Garden
September 1 Bonner, MT Kettlehouse Amphitheater
September 3 Moorhead, MN Bluestem Center for the Arts Amphitheater
September 29 – Oct 8 New York, NY Beacon Theatre
October 17 Copenhagen, DK. Amager Bio
October 18 Copenhagen, DK Amager Bio
October 20 Randers, DK Vaerket
October 21 Oslo, NO Sentrum Scene
October 22 Stockholm, SE Annexet
October 25 Berlin, DE Verti Music Hall
October 26 Hamburg, DE Edel-optics.de Arena
October 27 Prague, CZ Forum Karlin
October 30 Rotterdam, NL RTM Stage
November 2 Dublin, IE The Helix
November 4 London, UK The London Palladium
November 5 London, UK The London Palladium
November 6 London, UK The London Palladium
November 9 Manchester, UK Manchester Academy
November 10 Glasgow, UK O2 Academy Glasgow
November 12 Paris, FR Le Trianon
November 13 Paris, FR Le Trianon
November 15 Paris, FR Bataclan