The Upshot: Classic high-energy soul and classic blues-rock reigned over the rains on July 18 in Raleigh.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY TODD GUNSHER
My summer of soul continued on July 18th as The Wheels of Soul tour, featuring the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, rolled into Cary’s (suburban Raleigh) Koka Booth Amphitheater. Due to afternoon storms that passed through the area, the crowd was lined up at the gate past the time of opening as, given the music coming from the amphitheater, the soundcheck was obviously delayed. But the show started on time, and the fans filed in to the psychedelic-blues sounds of Texas guitarist Doyle Bramhall II (below) who played a short opening set that included a fine cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel.”
By the time Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ soul revue took the stage, it appeared everyone found their place and was ready for the show. The band opened things up with a funky instrumental groove, then guitarist/emcee Binky Griptite introduced the back-up singers Saun and Starr, who sang two songs from their Daptone Records release Look Closer. Binky then introduced the star of the show, Miss Sharon Jones. While most of the crowd was already on their feet, Sharon’s opening number got the rest of them up and kept them there for the remainder of the 75 minute set.
This is the type of classic sounding soul music that harkens back to the best of the 1960’s, complete with a three piece horn section, back-up singers and a James Brown approved conga player. Midway through the show, Jones referenced her battle with cancer in 2013 as she introduced “Get Up and Get Out,” which I’m sure had everyone thinking of friends and loved ones who have fought that battle. The set included a number of cuts from the band’s Grammy nominated Give the People What They Want, and while they may give you what you want, they more importantly give you what you need.
After a 30 minute break, the 12-piece Tedeschi/Trucks Band took the stage as night fell over the venue. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi were each successful in their own right, but since they joined forces in 2010, they have gelled into arguably the best band on the road today…two drummers, a three-piece horn section, keyboards, and three back-up vocalists create a full, but not cluttered, sound over which Derek and Susan can work their magic. Opening the set with “All That I Need,” and immediately following with “Made Up Mind,” they set the pace for a high energy set from the opening note. Tedeschi’s voice is reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt, but with more of an edge that perfectly fits alongside Derek Trucks’ searing slide guitar work. In addition to their excellent original material, when they perform covers like Delany and Bonnie’s “Coming Home,” they illustrate how well this contemporary outfit fits alongside the great rock and soul bands of days gone by.
At the mid-point of the set, they band showed it’s blues roots with Tedeschi singing Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s “I Pity The Fool” and then the back-up singers, Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers, took the spotlight with Little Milton’s “More and More.” After closing with “The Storm,” complete with a trademark Trucks solo, Tedeschi invited Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, and Bramhall as well, back to the stage to close the show with the Etta James classic “Tell Mama” and an extended Sly Stone medley. There were too many musicians and singers on stage to count (at least 20) but most of them seemed to take a solo spot, including all three guitarists, (Trucks, Griptite, and Bramhall) and most of the horns; at one point I even saw two drummers switch places. All and all, the bill provided an uplifting and satisfying night of music in the Triangle.