On the phone from their Jacksonville, Florida, home, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks sound remarkably relaxed for a couple who are running a traveling family business and raising two teenagers.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band, who released their fourth studio album, “Signs,” on Friday, will perform at Brooklyn Academy of Music on Wednesday.
“It’s definitely a lot of juggling, but we are both very driven and passionate about this band,” says Tedeschi, who sings lead vocals and plays guitar. It was even trickier, she says, when between the two of them, the husband and wife were members of their own bands, the Allman Brothers Band and Eric Clapton’s band.
The TTB operates as an extended family, and a beloved member of the family, multi-instrumentalist Kofi Burbridge, was lost over the weekend. He had been on hiatus from the band with health issues following a string of shows, including the TTB’s annual Beacon Theater run in October.
Tedeschi and Trucks, whom we spoke with before Burbridge passed, had already been processing the losses of Allman Brothers drummer — and Trucks’ uncle — Butch Trucks, the iconic Gregg Allman and TTB mentors Leon Russell and Col. Bruce Hampton.
“We get so few times to reset and head in the studio and write and record, and it’s just kind of whatever you’re going through at the time comes out,” says guitar virtuoso Trucks, who joined the Allmans when he was only 19. “I think in some sense the making of the record was therapeutic. Some of the songs were getting to 15, 20, 25 verses. It’s a good way to just remember somebody and think about them and sit with it.
“There was a lot to unpack and it all seemed to happen in succession. I don’t think you ever fully unpack certain things — with my uncle, those things are hard to wrap your head around.”
Butch Trucks, a founding member of the Allman Brothers, died of a self-inflicted gunshot on Jan. 24, 2017.
Wednesday’s intimate show at BAM will be the rare NYC show for the TTB not at the Beacon. In October, the TTB packed the Beacon for six shows, its eighth run at the venerable Upper West Side venue.
“My dad travels with us and sells merch, he was there for a lot of the Beacon Allmans shows — and the union guys gave him a Beacon Theater union jacket,” Trucks remembers. “This is our family. You know the person that runs the elevator, the two or three gentlemen that have been there 20-something years.
“When me and Susan’s son was born, it was in March before a Beacon run [with the Allmans] and I had to leave when he was 3 or 4 days old. I talked my family into driving up for the shows, he was 7 or 8 days old. He’s been at the Beacon every year from then on.”
Tedeschi counts performing with legends like bluesman Little Milton and Clapton as well as opening for John Mellencamp among her most memorable Big Apple moments.
A zany story from backstage at Madison Square Garden is another favorite.
“Played with the Grateful Dead there. I remember I was nursing and I was totally clean, I wasn’t doing any drugs, and I remember Bobby [Weir] trying to hand me some mushrooms before we went on stage,” she says, laughing. “I said, ‘Bobby, I can’t do these, I’m nursing!’ He was like, ‘Oh yeah,’ and he did ‘em. Just like really fun, wacky, crazy memories. Very rock ‘n’ roll. You can’t make this stuff up.”