Susan Tedeschi ready to rock Warner Theatre with husband Derek Trucks

Listen to the full conversation on our podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Tedeschi Trucks at Warner Theatre (Part 1)

Imagine combining one of the great blues vocalists with one of the world’s best guitarists.

That’s what happened when Susan Tedeschi married Derek Trucks to form the Grammy-winning band Tedeschi Trucks, which plays Warner Theatre this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They return to the Warner again from Feb. 17-19 and then Wolf Trap on July 19.

“We were home for a good 18 months and couldn’t work because of the pandemic … so we all started writing,” Tedeschi told WTOP. “We ended up making four records of music that we are in the process of mixing right now … we figured we have some off time, we have a studio in our backyard [in Jacksonville], so we’re going to make a bunch of music.”

Born in Boston in 1970, Tedeschi listened to all genres of music growing up.

“My parents were folkies,” Tedeschi said. “My dad and mom were both really into Bob Dylan … he would play me the Staple Singers … I also grew up loving Aretha Franklin and, of course, Bonnie Raitt. I didn’t really know about Bonnie until college, but then I thought, ‘Oh my God, I love her.’ … John Prine, Leonard Cohen, I love great songwriters.”

After graduating from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, she officially formed the Susan Tedeschi Band with Adrienne Hayes and Little Annie Raines in 1993.

“We entered the Boston Battle of the Blues Bands and somehow came in first, then went down to Memphis and came in second for the International Blues Competition,” Tedeschi said. “The band that came in first wasn’t really a real band … so we ended up getting all those spots. That was huge for us. It opened a lot of doors. We made our first record.”

After the first album “Better Days” (1995), she signed with Tone-Cool Records for her sophomore album, “Just Won’t Burn” (1998), which went gold with the hit “It Hurt So Bad.”

“They were hoping to sell like 60,000 records, and I sold 600,000,” Tedeschi said. “Tom Hambridge … wrote ‘It Hurt So Bad,’ he had the idea for it, and I added my thing to it, but it was mostly his song … he also produced ‘Just Won’t Burn,’ so he was an integral part.”

She began opening for everyone from John Mellencamp to B.B. King to The Rolling Stones, eventually earning a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 2000.

“I was up against Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Macy Gray, Kid Rock — and here’s me, this blues artist, it didn’t make any sense!” Tedeschi said. “They wanted me to play with Kid Rock, and I didn’t want to do it … my boyfriend at the time was Derek, and he was like, ‘No, you should not play with Kid Rock’ … just stylistically, it was a little strange.”

Of course, Derek was the nephew of Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks. They began dating when Tedeschi joined Double Trouble to open for the Allman Brothers in 1999.

“I was aware of him,” Tedeschi said. “When he was really young I had heard him on the radio with the Allman Brothers … I was dating Sean Costello in 1998, and he said, ‘My favorite guitar player, we’ve gotta go see him, is this guy Derek Trucks … I went to see Derek for the first time … to this day, I haven’t heard a guitar player who can touch him.”

They fell in love during the Allman Brothers tour and eventually married in 2001.

“We had my solo band, his solo band, and the Allman Brothers, which he was in for 15 years, so we basically had three bands,” Tedeschi said. “Then we had two kids. Then he started playing with Clapton when the kids were little, so that was four bands and two children. It was over the top! I don’t know if many people could do it, but somehow we did.”

In 2008, they formed Soul Stew Revival before launching Tedeschi Trucks in 2010.

“We started doing Soul Stew Revival, which was a mix of the two bands,” Tedeschi said. “Then in 2010, Derek decided, ‘I’m going to start a band. Do you want to be in it?’ So I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, OK.’ I had to think about leaving my solo project and just going for it, so that’s what we did. We started all over and put this band together.”

In 2012, Tedeschi Trucks Band won the Grammy for Best Blues Album with “Revelator.”

“It was really fun,” Tedeschi said. “We wrote with Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers; John Leventhal, Roseanne Cash’s husband; we wrote by ourselves: Mike Mattison and Derek wrote stuff like ‘Midnight in Harlem,’ ‘Bound for Glory’ and a lot of classic songs for our band now. … It’s been an amazing journey to see where this band has gone.”

More recently, they recorded “Layla Revisited” with Trey Anastasio of Phish in 2019.

“We did a live show at LOCKN’ (in Arrington, Virginia) and did the entire ‘Layla’ record,” Tedeschi said. “During the lockdown, the boys were mixing it and said, ‘Wow, this is really good. We should make this an album.’ So we did. That came out this past summer.”

The “Layla” recording brings the Susan and Derek love story full circle.

“I actually found out during the making of it that I was born the day that record came out,” Tedeschi said. “The day ‘Layla’ came out I was born: Nov. 9, 1970, which is kind of nuts. Very serendipitous. He was definitely named after Derek from Derek & The Dominoes … so I definitely think it was full circle for both of us. I definitely think it’s just meant to be.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Tedeschi Trucks at Warner Theatre (Part 2)

Listen to the full conversation on our podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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