By Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator
“Soul Sweet Song” is Tedeschi Trucks Band at their best. The track was made as a tribute to one of the band’s original members, Kofi Burbridge. Kofi passed away on February 15th, 2019, the same day TTB put out their fourth album, Signs.
Kofi had roots with the band as early as 1999 (see later section “The Derek Trucks Band & Kofi’s Earliest Involvement”). He primarily served as the group’s keyboard player and flutist. In an interview in the early 2000s, TTB’s Derek Trucks called Kofi “one of the few musical geniuses that I’ve had the chance to work with.”
Rather than focus on the sadness of this tremendous loss, the lyrics and sound of “Soul Sweet Song” offer a beautiful celebration of how Kofi’s influence on them, musically and personally, lives on.
The touching chorus goes: “Now there's no use wishing for your sweet return. Cause I see you in the morning sun. And I hear you on the whispering wind. And I feel your rhythm moving me. Cause your soul's sweet song's still singing.”
TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND’S MOST AMBITIOUS PROJECT YET
“Soul Sweet Song” comes off of the band’s fourth album released this year. They announced the plans for this ambitious release on April 20th, 2022.
The encompassing project is titled I Am The Moon. It includes four albums composed of 24 original songs, plus four films— one to go along with each record.
Each of the four parts premiered in film form first on the band’s YouTube channel. Up to four days after the visual release, they were then put out in audio form — digitally available on streaming services and physically by CD.
The band called the time in between “an opportunity to digest each album in its entirety as a communal listening and viewing experience,” while promoting it on their Instagram.
The ordering of releases went as follows:
I Am The Moon: I. Crescent - May 31st film premiere; June 3rd CD & digital premiere.
I Am The Moon: II. Ascension - June 28th film premiere; July 1st CD & digital premiere.
I Am The Moon: III. The Fall - July 26th film premiere; July 29th CD & digital premiere.
I Am The Moon: IV. Farewell - August 23rd film premiere; 27th CD & digital premiere.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BAND’S FORMATION
At its heart, Tedeschi Trucks Band is a group formed by husband and wife duo Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. The two musicians married in 2001.
It took them until 2010 to make the leap of forming Tedeschi Trucks Band. While they had been collaborating for several years before that, it had been under old stage monikers, or “The Soul Stew Revival.”
The formation of TTB marked a new chapter for each as they went onwards with a distinctive artistic vision. And unsurprisingly considering their musical talents, it was well-received, with their 2011 debut album Revelator winning the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album.
THE DEREK TRUCKS BAND & KOFI’S EARLIEST INVOLVEMENT
Before 2011, Derek Trucks had been fronting a blues-rock musical project he called the Derek Trucks Band. Trucks took lead vocals and guitar.
The lineup built up across years, starting in 1994, when Trucks was joined by Todd Smallie, a jazz and blues bass guitar player from Atlanta, Georgia. The addition of a drummer followed. Early on, a keyboardist and backing vocalist by the name of Bill Mckay also began and ended a temporary run with the band.
It was in 1999 that Kofi Burbridge joined the Derek Trucks Band. He primarily replaced McKay as keyboardist, but also brought in a range of talents, from playing the flute and organ to singing to songwriting.
Kofi was the brother of Oteil Burbridge, the bassist for the Allman Brothers Band, which Derek Trucks had previously worked closely with. Truck became an official member of the Allman Brothers Band that same year, 1999. And when TTB formed in 2011, both Burbridge brothers — Kofi and Oteil — followed on as members.
SUSAN TEDESCHI’S EARLY CAREER AND LOCAL ROOTS
Susan Tedeschi was born in Boston and raised in Norwell, Massachusetts. She is the great granddaughter to Angelo Tedeschi, who founded the New-England based convenience store and supermarket chain Tedeschi Food Shops.
At a young age, Susan Tedeschi gravitated towards her dad’s collection of blues records and also the singing style of African-American Baptist church choirs.
She went on to study at Berklee College of Music. During this time, she immersed herself in Boston’s music scene, especially the blues scene.
It was in 1993, after graduating Berklee, that she began performing as the Susan Tedeschi Band with Tom Hambridge and Adrienne Hayes. The trio were signed that year, and were met warmly from their first releases.
Susan Tedeschi ended up earning some touring opportunities with wide exposure, from opening for Bob Dylan to opening for the Rolling Stones in 2003. It was while opening for the Allman Brothers in 1999 that she first met Derek Trucks.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND?
With a monumental four-album and four-film release behind them, Tedeschi Trucks Band are focusing on sharing their musical talents in live form. They’re finishing up a U.S. tour-run with a week straight of performances at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Next, they’ll head overseas to Europe.
For those looking for a Boston date, unfortunately none are announced at the moment. The last time they performed in Boston was for a four-night run at the Orpheum in early December 2021. Surely, Tedeschi Trucks Band will perform locally soon, though, making a return to the city that holds such a large piece in their history.
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