Like most musical genres, the Blues offers a variety of styles and tones…
The acoustic, the electric, the big band… the heartbreak, the ballad, the rockers, and the big, brash get up and dance numbers.
And don’t forget the Funk!
Having spent time in Chicago, it was easy to get a taste of it all… and like that city’s pizza or Italian beef combos, it all tastes so good going down. The Checkerboard Lounge, Biddy Mulligan’s, Mama Rosa’s, Kingston Mines and BLUES, etc. were some of my favorite haunts. Sadly, some of those places are gone, so only ghosts… or memories… are left. Maybe that’s what a ghost is, after all… a visceral memory that brings itself to life.
I came to the Blues a bit backwards, hearing the music it influenced first, and then going back to discover the roots. Such is the curse of growing up on diet of Classic Rock. Okay, not a curse, but perhaps a bit limiting, at least initially. Maybe that is why my musical tastes exploded as I got older… I was hungry and thirsty for it all. College was an experimentation… No, not that kind, sadly… I meant musically!
And living in a fraternity, moving from room to room, was like a Smörgåsbord. Classical and Opera here, Jazz there, metal in this corner and a whole lot of Rock all over. Spyro Gyra, Jimmy Buffet, Tears For Fears wafted through the halls and as I made my way downtown on the El, live Jazz and Blues pumped through my bloodstream.
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Made Up Mind
A young Bonnie Raitt… A young Duane Allman.
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks get this all the time.
Susan gets Bonnie with a touch of Janis Joplin, both of whom she cites as major influences. I’d add in some young Aretha, too. Growing up, listening to Mississippi John Hurt and Lightning Hopkins does not hurt either!
Derek comes at it even more directly, with his uncle Butch Trucks (Drums) being a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. He is a guitar prodigy who, by the age of 13, had already played with Blues guitar legend Buddy Guy and toured with the Allmans… and in 1999 was made an official member of the band.
He also played on Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale’s The Road to Escondido, which has all too sad and more current relevance, as we lost J.J. less than a month ago, on July 26 of this year.
In addition to Duane, Derek credits some amazing guitar AND horn players as influences… All of them (culled from Wikipedia) should be on our regular playlists…
“Elmore James… John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf and Albert King, Miles Davis, Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Wayne Shorter, Toy Caldwell, Freddie King and B.B. King.”
This album is insane… as in insanely good. I cannot stop listening. I do not WANT to stop listening. This may be some of the deepest music love I have felt all year.
The chunky, smoky guitar boogie that opens the title track “Made Up Mind” takes me right back to the 70s. So does the track “Misunderstood.”
“Idle Wind” with its hints of classic R&B horns, would have fit on any one of Bonnie Raitt’s earlier albums, and is one of my favorite tracks. As it fades into the warm summer night, the Allman Brothers sound kicks in. Stellar!
The heart-breaking ballads include “It’s So Heavy” and “Sweet And Low”, and both numbers beg you to grab your love and slow dance into the night. A confession… a deep, heart-felt revelation and a beg for forgiveness. So good… and yes, sometimes when it hurts, that is good, too.
“She seems to heal the pain inside you (Oh, inside you)
And I was so mean when you were low
Sweet and low.”
For these ballads in particular, AllMusic declares” “It is no mean feat to deliver music this intimate and personal with such a large ensemble.”
This whole record is a journey and that’s what a great album should be. By the time you get to the closer, “Calling Out To You”, you will have travelled many paths, my friends.
11 has always been a mystical and magical number, offering up some kind of good luck or hope… I’m sure I am not the only one who makes a wish when the clock turns 11:11! So it is with this 11-piece band… They give us a whole lot of hope and magic, and really, isn’t that what the blues is about… telling it like it is, getting down and dirty, but giving us just enough lift to show us the way out.
At least that’s the way I see it.