Is feel-good blues music a contradiction in terms?
Never mind. Put all thought of jumbo shrimp aside, and just listen to the sounds of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, if you've been wondering where all the kick-ass blues/rock music went.
The husband-and-wife-led ensemble will headline the Sunshine Blues Festival, stopping at Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers on Friday, Jan. 18, for one of three shows in Florida. A host of additional performers, including Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, the Wood Brothers, Walter Trout, Sonny Landreth, Joe Louis Walker, and Big Sam's Funky Nation will share the two stages for the daylong event.
Susan Tedeschi's soulful vocals bring Bonnie Raitt to mind, and Derek Trucks' slide guitar licks are reminiscent of Duane Allman — no surprise as, in one of his other jobs, Trucks takes the place of the legendary guitarist in the reconstituted Allman Brothers Band.
If you go
SUNSHINE BLUES FESTIVAL
When: Doors open at 11:30 a.m., music starts at noon Friday, Jan. 18
Where: Centennial Park, 2000 W. First St., Fort Myers
Cost: $49.50 general admission or $149.50 VIP package, plus fees
Tickets: www.sunshinebluesfestival.com, all Ticketmaster outlets or 800-745-3000
Something else: Event goes on rain or shine. Bring a blanket for seating. Refreshments available include a beer sampling featuring a selection of local craft, import brews, and hot barbecue favorites. All bags will be inspected upon entry to the concert.
Comparing Tedeschi Trucks Band to the greats of Southern rock, blue-eyed soul and blues is by no means to call them derivative, or a cover band. TTB plays its own songs, along with covers of classic blues numbers, and has its own, well-honed style. Rolling Stone magazine hailed "Revelator," the band's 2010 debut album, as a "masterpiece," and it won the Grammy Award for "Best Blues Album of the Year."
At the 2012 Blues Music Awards, TTB won Album of the Year, Band of the Year, Contemporary Blues Female Artist for Susan Tedeschi, and the Gibson Guitar Award for Derek Trucks. Trucks is ranked No. 16 on Rolling Stone's all-time greatest guitarists list.
This is a band of virtuosos, at the top of their game, and they can whip it live. Far from losing precision when taken out of the controlled environment of the studio, their big-band sound — the group boast 11 members, including a horn section and double drummers — comes alive on the concert stage.
And that's just one of the bands that will play in Centennial Park. All of the connections, antecedents and cross-pollination among the various bands and band members at the Sunshine Blues Festival suggest a reality show or soap opera, perhaps "As the Stage Turns."
Tedeschi and Trucks melded their individual bands, as well as taking marital vows. Trucks plays guitar in the Allman Brothers Band, in which his uncle Butch Trucks was a founding member and drummer. The other original Allman Brothers' drummer, Jai Johanny Johanson, is the same Jaimoe whose "Jasssz Band" will share the Sunshine Festival stage, and still plays in the Allman Brothers Band with Derek Trucks. Reached by phone at his Connecticut home Jaimoe, originally from Gulfport, Miss., said he is looking forward to playing at the open-air festival.
"I love these events," said Jaimoe, who has played all around the world in a 50-year music career. "People who have never heard our music get to hear us, and we get to hear some great new bands. And it's a great time of year to be back in the South."
Jaimoe said he gets a lot of flak about the "jasssz" spelling, including from his wife, but it is one of the original forms of the word, and he cites the Ken Burns documentary, "Jazz," as proof.
Altogether, 10 bands or acts will perform onstage in Fort Myers, and there's no telling who will end up sitting in with whom.
"We're excited to be back in Florida, playing with some of our favorite musicians. It should be crazy. We're just finishing up a record — it's a good time to get back on the road," Trucks said.
"We hope these festivals will be an annual tradition for years to come," Tedeschi added. In addition to the Fort Myers date Jan. 18, other shows follow on Jan. 19 in Boca Raton and Jan. 20 in St. Petersburg.