Tedeschi Trucks: Up close at the Armory

Six-piece version of “best touring band in America” plays benefit Aug. 2

On Stage

A stripped-down version of the Tedeschi Trucks Band rocks the Kimpton Armory Music Hall in Bozeman Aug. 2 in a benefit for Haven in what bandmates and husband and wife Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi call a Fireside Live concert. The full band returns to Montana Sept. 1 for a sold-out show at Kettlehouse Amphitheatre in Bonner.

Bluesy guitarist and singer Susan Tedeschi of the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Bluesy guitarist and singer Susan Tedeschi of the Tedeschi Trucks Band: “Blues morphs into soul, soul shapeshifts into rock, and rock deconstructs into a dynamic form of jazz improvisation,” writes Salon.Photo © Fran Ruchalski For the Times-Union

Longtime Bozeman music promoter Tom Garnsey, of Vootie Productions, helped bring the powerhouse players to Bozeman after arranging a similar concert in California last fall. His connection to the band goes back to the 1990s, when he brought a 17-year-old Trucks to the Cat’s Paw “when he wasn’t even old enough” to be in the bar. “He was great – just so gifted,” recalled Garnsey of the astonishing slide guitarist. Trucks’ parents were traveling with him, “just watching over him,” and emblematic of what remains “such a family affair.”

Garnsey went on to book the Derek Trucks Band at Montana Ale Works, and then – once Derek joined forces with his wife to form the Tedeschi Trucks Band – twice for the Grand Targhee Music Festival. “I will say to everyone who asks: this is the best touring band in America,” Garnsey says.

And, the Armory show offers a unique opportunity to see the band’s phenomenal founders up close and personal. With Trucks wielding guitar and Tedeschi on guitar and vocals, the pair performs in Bozeman with vocalist Mike Mattison and other band members on bass, drums and keyboards in a configuration that’s half the girth of the full band.

The Fireside Live sessions were created during COVID as a means to sustain band members and keep the music alive during a pandemic.

“As I understand it, they took care of their whole band and crew during COVID, which is not normal,” says Garnsey. “These kinds of gigs were a way to cover expenses.”

The result is a distillation of the TTB magic, “really just the essence of who they are,” he adds.

In addition to songs from the couple’s vast catalogue, fans can expect to hear work from a new project, I Am the Moon, described on their website as “an epic undertaking in four albums with four corresponding films and 24 original songs. Inspired by a mythic Persian tale of star-crossed lovers, and emotionally driven by the isolation and disconnection of the pandemic era, the thematic I Am The Moon totals more than two hours of music, unfolding a robust tapestry of genre-defying explorations.”

“I didn’t think their music could get better,” says Garnsey, who has listened to the first release in the four-album series. “It blew my mind. These guys have upped their game somehow.”

The show at the Armory was originally slated for Jan. 14, but postponed due to the COVID surge. Meanwhile, TTB booked the Kettlehouse show, which promptly sold out. Tickets are still available for the Armory concert, which is a benefit for Haven, a Bozeman nonprofit that offers support, legal advocacy, counseling, and a safe place to stay for people impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking.

The organization “does amazing work in the community,” says Garnsey. “There’s a lot of need for what they do in and around Bozeman and it increases every day.”

He also appreciates the venue, located in what was once a National Guard Armory. The building has since been repurposed into an upscale hotel, with the armory’s former gym transformed into a unique music hall/community space featuring a second-floor mezzanine, built-in bar, and the building’s original stage, now equipped with a top-notch sound system. The space can accommodate up to 700 people for this show.

Garnsey appreciates the “cool community space” and collaborates with the Armory on a couple of benefit concerts a year there. The long-time music promoter says, “I’m at this place in my world where I just want to do cool things in my community.

“I started back in the 90s to bring music here,” he adds. “I still like to do that, but I like to do it with a purpose.”

Fireside Live with Tedeschi Trucks fulfills that goal. The band leaders “really are two of the nicest, most down-to-earth artists I’ve ever worked with,” Garnsey says. “They seem to be about the most well-adjusted people you see out on the road.”

“Vootie has a good reputation in this town – we’ve been trusted with people’s musical lives for a long time,” he adds. “I’d like to use that to help people like Haven keep doing what they’re doing”

Tickets cost $125 standing or $225 for limited VIP seating and are available online.