What does it mean to be southern rock? The Tedeschi Trucks Band brought their Wheels of Soul tour to Cincinnati Sunday night. They were joined by the Drive-By Truckers and the Marcus King Band, and each group demonstrated different niches within the niche of southern rock.
The Marcus King Band played a short opening set of his style of blues. Strong guitar and vocals, raw and earnest. He showed off some new material from his upcoming album and snuck in a cover of the CSNY song, “Ohio.” (You can catch them again at Bogart's September 23)
Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and the Drive-By Truckers brought their unapologetic version of southern rock with a fury. They sing about the duality of the southern thing with stories about victims and perpetrators with a hazy line distinguishing who is who. They crammed as many songs in their hour set as possible by limiting the banter and picking up the tempo.
With a Black Lives Matter sign gracing their organ, they proudly boast their place in the resistance, a place they’ve held long before it was trendy. DBT plays a version of southern rock that sounds looser and a little more aggressive than others. It’s reminiscent of a Let It Bleed era Stones, a little dirty and mean.
The shorter set hurt because they had to stop just as they were warming up. They played Ronnie and Neil, telling a more complete version of the Southern Man and Sweet Home Alabama origin story. They also managed a few surprises; a deep cut, “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife”, and a Ramone’s cover, “The KKK Took My Baby Away”, pleased the crowd there to see the Truckers do what they do.
Tedeschi Trucks packed the stage after a short break. The supergroup is a bigger, bluesier and brighter version of southern rock. Derek Trucks reputation as a guitar virtuoso is well earned and he showed off his talents with extended solos built around his clean style and slide work. Susan Tedeschi holds her own during her spots but shines on lead vocals. The whole band plays with precision rarely heard in most jam bands. It’s Texas blues with bright horns and soulful backing vocals filling out the sound. They even bust out a flute because why not.
Tedeschi Trucks is like a family party where everybody knows how to play or sing and everyone gets to sit in. They have a traditional, optimistic nearly gospel feel, more revival than resistance.
They ran through their standards, but also managed a Bob Dylan cover and a tribute to Mr. Trucks Allman Brothers’ roots with a great Whipping Post.
The Wheels of Soul tour comes around both to pay tribute to and show the evolution of the genre of southern rock. During DBT’s closing song What It Means, a song that tackles bigger concepts than the meaning of southern rock. Mr. Hood gave a heartfelt solique where he finished by urging the crowd to just “love each other, motherf$&kers.”