Back To The Charles River

By A.J. Wachtel
April 2010

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It wasn’t so long ago that Susan Tedeschi was a young blues singer and guitarist playing all the local clubs and building her reputation as one of the best and most talented artists on the circuit. Two decades later, now known throughout the world, Susan comes back to the Charles River in a band with her husband Derek Trucks to open for Jeff Beck at The Bank of America Pavilion on June 3. Read on as our old friend shares some of her thoughts with the Boston Blues Community.

AJ Wachtel: What memories do you have of the '80's Boston Blues Scene?

Susan Tedeschi: Not many memories of the '80s blues scence since I was still in high school. My earliest memories are of seeing Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Weepin' Willie, sneeking in to see Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown at Harper's Ferry and being up on stage with Little Annie Raines and James Cotton first night of the opening of the House of Blues and meeting Adrienne Hayes at a Joe Louis Walker show and starting our band. Listening to James Montgomery in Hull. I remember how sweet everyone was and still is. It was a wonderful experience hearing all sorts of music coming out of Boston.

AW:You're supporting Jeff Beck June 3 at the Bank of America Pavilion. How do you know him and what song would you like to perform with him if you have the chance?

ST: I love Jeff Beck and remember first meeting him when I opened for him in New York City a few years ago at Roseland. He invited me up to his dressing room and introduced himself and he was very down to earth and sweet. I saw him again at Crossroads in Chicago and he was playing with my friend Tal Wilkenfeld on bass. She is a fabulous bass player and musician and I heard her for the first time with Jeff there. He is a beautiful guitar player and person. I love his version of the Beatles “A Day in the Life”.

AW: What about some of the tours you've been on? Which shows stand out for you? I remember a great show you had at the Orpheum with Cheryl Crow.

ST: This is a very difficult question to narrow down. I have many fond memories of playing with many of my favorite musicians. Some of my favorite are with the Allman Brothers Band and my husband Derek. Once I was sitting in with them and Little Milton and another time with Eric Clapton. Last summer I played July 12th at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland with B.B. King and George Benson and George Duke. When I have the opportunity to share the stage with B.B. King or Buddy Guy it is magic and feels like a dream. I also have incredible memories of playing with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Otis Rush, John Lee Hooker, Toots Hibbert, Les Paul and Bonnie Raitt, The Dead, Panic, Col. Bruce Hampton , Pinetop Perkins and Hubert Sumlin and Irma Thomas and Otis Clay and just the other day Johnny Winter...etc...

AW: What about your Grammy nomination for “Best New Artist” in the same category with Kid Rock, Macy Gray, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. What did you think about being nominated and what did it do for your career?

ST: Christina won. As for my career, it helped enough so I could still be able to do what I love doing for a living. I was shocked and grateful for the nomination.

AW: Your last record (Back to the River) is different from your previous records because all but one song has been written or co-written by you, making it your most personal project to date. Can you give me a few comments on this?

ST: I enjoyed this record for many reasons. It was fun to write the songs and to meet and write with so many talented songwriters and musicians. I was able to write about current events and experiment with guitar and lyrical avenues.

AW: You performed at the Janis Joplin tribute at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland last November with Lucinda Williams, Nona Hendrix, Bettye Lavette and Carolynn Wonderland. What was that like? What did Janis as an artist mean to you?

ST: The Janis show was special to me. Janis was an early influence of mine as well as early connection to the blues through Big Mama Thorton and her raw emotional vocal style. Carolyn Wonerland was great and very much in the spirit of Janis. The other amazing and unique experience of the show was having so many female artists on one bill. It was very fun.

AW: You're the only woman on the Experience Hendrix tour. What's that tour about for you and was Jimi an influence on you early on?

ST: I love Jimi Hendrix—his songwriting, singing and guitar playing. It was special to me to be included on the Experience Hendrix tour. I was the only woman and honored to be there in the honoring of Jimi and his music. It was a blast and an honor meeting and playing with Billy Cox and Ernie Isley and all the musicians.

AW: You're planning on taking a year off from solo projects to spend time with Derek and your kids. Can we hope for a CD from you two together next year?

ST: I am very excited about this year. It is great to slow down from the road for a bit in order to make and record so much new music with so many amazing musicians. I have been waiting a long time to have the opportunity to spend more time with my family and to write and record and start a band with my husband. I feel blessed!

AW: Anyone you want to say hi to in the Boston Blues Community?

ST: I would love to say hello and thanks to Toni Lynn Washington, Annie Raines and Paul Rishell, Adrienne Hayes, Ronnie Earl, Roy Goode, Duke Robillard, Kevin Barry, Dennis Brennan, Dennis Montgomery III, Tim Gearan, Paul Alstrand, Kevin Belz.etc... Also to Johnny D's in Somerville and the radio folks, Holly Harris and Peter Black and WBOS.

Questions? Comments? Contact AJ at [email protected]


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