THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Tedeschi Trucks Band

In which the TTB’s Mike
Mattison relates a sound foosball drubbing.

 

BT
MIKE MATTISON

 

On
the road as a singer with the Derek Trucks Band – and now the Tedeschi Trucks
Band – for a combined total of almost ten years, I have seen some seriously
fucked up shit: Curbside drubbings; colorful, unthinkable racial incidents; a
girl with an actual third-eye and
that dude in Nashville front-and-center who exhaled a hit of crack smoke right
into my face.

 

But
the most fucked up things, the stuff that sticks with you, are the minor
emotional tragedies: Aeschylus played in miniature backstage, on the bus, in
the barroom.

 

One
of these tragedies happened in Grand Junction, Colorado.

 

The
Derek Trucks Band had finished its set in a bar I’m quite sure no longer exists.
Derek and I wandered back into the venue to do what musicians sometimes do in
Grand Junction: Get a drink or have one bought for us.

 

We
looked… unappealing. Probably in sweat pants. Derek maybe wearing his signature
“you-don’t-really-see-me” Atlanta Braves brim. Two tired musicians
trying to waste an hour before bus call.

 

There
was a guy named “Scott,” drinking whiskey. He recognized Derek,
called him “Trucksie.” A little familiar but, hey, it was almost 1:00 a.m.
“Trucksie,” said Scott, “Loved your show! Let me buy you a shot.”
Scott ordered two shots. Trucksie, always the populist, suggested Scott might
want to order me one, too. Scott complied. He tapped me on the back. He said,
“You’re the keyboard player right?”

 

“No,”
I said, “I’m the other black guy onstage.”

 

“The
Drummer!”

 

Yes,
I said. Yes, I’m the fuckin’ drummer.

 

Clink!
Clink! Down-in-one! Pfffaaaah!

 

Scott:
“You guys play foosball?”

 

I
was still a little new to touring. I’d done some traveling in my time, but
never as a professional. Never as a person who could be followed from city to
city by looking at my website. Anonymity and I were friends. Still are.

 

One
forgets that “Trucksie,” well, people have an eye on him. An eye on
his talent. An eye on his at-oneness with the electric guitar. Ideas about who
he is, you know, inside. That he’s onstage because maybe there is some fluke. That
maybe he’s a douche. Or a secret Republican. Or that he’s human just like us.

 

Scott,
again: “Do you guys play foosball?”

 

Trucksie:
“Sometimes.”

 

Scott
gestured at the bar, the smoke, the four other people huddled over their drinks.
“This bar is my bar. This foosball table,” he smacked a goal-handle
and made it whiz, “I own. Nobody
wins here but me.”

 

It
was an interesting statement. A statement everyone on earth would like to make
about some aspect in their lives, except maybe masturbation.

 

“Me
and my boy,” Scott grabbed a confused-looking gawker. “Against you
and him.” He pointed at me, the Drummer.

 

“OK,”
said Derek.

 

What
we usually ascribe to guitar-players – the ones that really can play – is an uncanny ability to make the right musical
choices in the midst of a veritable tsunami of beats, chord changes and sonic
anomalies. Aesthetics aside, if you want to jam guitar-style, you’ve got to
have the eye-hand coordination of an NHL goalie. People don’t think about it,
but it’s true. This should be on your mind especially if you own a foosball table in the only
after-hours bar in Grand Junction, Colorado. Use your noggin.

 

It
wasn’t pretty. Derek made a show of it, statesman-like, trying to maintain
equilibrium. As a child I had had a foosball table in my basement, but to be
frank I’ve always been a singer – the eyes and hands only move in concert when I’m
trying to get food into my face. I fed Derek from the back-three, the scoring
was up to him.

 

Scott
slammed one home. “Oooh! Trucksie! I
told you
this was my table.”

 

I
cringed a little.

 

Trucks
kind of started trying and we skunked
them out 10-2.

 

Scott:
“Again.”

 

Me,
the fuckin’ Drummer, fake yawning: “I think it’s about my bed-“

 

Scott’s
girlfriend suddenly appeared. “Jen!,” said Scott, “This is
Derek, the guy who was playing-” he gestured at the stage.

 

What
happened next is kind of what happens in The
Three Stooges
when Moe holds Curly’s head at arm’s length while Curly
wheels his arms in a perpetual windmill.

 

“Again!,”
screamed Scott.

 

After
about seven of these, Scott’s girlfriend started crying. “Scott, please,
don’t!”

 

It’s
not like we were being nasty. In fact, we tried to excuse ourselves multiple
times. And, for the record, and this sounds condescending, but: Scott was good.

 

“Again.”

 

His
girlfriend started to scratch at his playing hand. “Not during the game, Jen!”

 

Trucksie
and I even held up our hands and attempted to lose, but by then the slippery
slope of disappointment had already inhabited Scott. It had taken hold of his
person. Also, he had been drinking Old Grandad constantly.

 

It
only took an hour. But the foosball table, at 2:00 a.m. MT, Grand Junction, CO,
no longer belonged to Scott.

 

I
don’t think there is a moral to this story. There never is, really, in a
tragedy. The night was fated, before we had ever even met, in the stars.

 

 

The Tedeschi Trucks
Band’s latest album
Revelator
is out now on Sony Masterworks. www.derekandsusan.net

 

(Photo:
James Minchin)

 

 

Tedeschi Trucks Band –
“Midnight in Harlem”

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