Music: Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks

Jun 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Blair Jackson

NEW BAND, NEW STUDIO, NEW ALBUM FOR ROCKIN' COUPLE

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Most of Derek Trucks’ 
guitar sound came from 
a Sennheiser 421 and a 
Neuman 87 combination.

Most of Derek Trucks’ 
guitar sound came from 
a Sennheiser 421 and a 
Neuman 87 combination.

WORKING THE SONGS
Demos for the new album ranged from full-on group performances recorded at the new studio by Tis to more intimate performances with just Trucks and Tedeschi strumming acoustic guitars. Once they had a substantial body of songs together and a record deal in place—with Sony Masterworks—the much-in-demand producer/engineer/mixer Jim Scott (Wilco, Chili Peppers, Santana, Dixie Chicks, et al) was brought in to helm the album sessions at the studio.

“On my first trip down there to see the studio and work on the songs and get things together,” says Scott, who has his own studio/mix room just north of L.A., “I said to them, ‘This is great, this is fantastic!’ They even have the same console I have. But I said, ‘Where’s Sue going to be? Where does she sing?’ ‘Well, sometimes in the hallway, sometimes after the fact standing in the control room.’ I said, ‘Why don’t we build a big, beautiful isolation booth that fits into the main room and it’s got windows and doors and really make a Sue World? Derek jumped right on it and within a month, when I got back there to start the record, they had built a beautiful room for Sue. That was really, really helpful because now she has her own [10x10] space with her guitars and her amps and a computer and all the stuff she needed. It was great to have her be in the game when the tracks were going down because she’s so important to the group’s sound, and when she sings great, the band plays great.” Scott co-produced with bandleader Trucks and co-engineered with Tis, who was thrilled to be working with a pro of Scott’s caliber.

Though known mostly as 
a singer, Susan Tedeschi is also a fine guitarist.

Though known mostly as 
a singer, Susan Tedeschi is also a fine guitarist.

With Tedeschi ensconced in her room, the rest of the band set up around the booth—save for the horns, which were recorded separately in part because the other eight pieces maxed out the available inputs. “The drummers were facing each other across the room, maybe 15 feet apart, and I just did a traditional rock ’n’ roll miking setup and let that fly,” Scott says. “The piano was basically right next to one of the drummers and we threw some blankets over it and put up an old-school baffle in front of it to knock down some of the leakage. We were able to isolate the [Leslie] organ cabinet around the corner in [a stairwell]. We were able to isolate the bass cabinet, and for Derek we were able to make an old-school baffle situation.” Most of the gobos were custom-built by Tis and Trucks’ brother, David, who helps out in many capacities around the studio. “There was leakage all over the place,” Scott continues, “but when everyone plays great and everything is going to go on the record and you’re not going to change your mind later, leakage is not a problem. It was tracked 95-percent live. The horns were overdubbed [as a section], some of the guitar solos were overdubbed, but it was still a huge band going down.”

Tedeschi’s smoky, sexy, tender and soulful vocals were captured with a Telefunken U47 she favors, through a Neve 1081 pre/EQ in the console and an 1176 compressor. “She’s got such a great voice,” Scott enthuses. “You really don’t want to mess with it.” As for Trucks’ guitar, Tis says, “Most of the guitar sound is a [Sennheiser] 421 and a [Neumann] 87 on the cone [of the amp] or a [Shure] 57 and an 87. I always cut with a room, too: Royer 121s or the [Royer] SF-24 stereo ribbon.” Tis also had low room mics—RCA 77s—about six feet in front of each kick drum, “and the opposite drummer sounded great in the other guy’s room mic, giving the sound a nice dimension.”

Scott mixed the Pro Tools sessions to analog half-inch through his Neve back in California, broadcasting his work live to Trucks, Tedeschi and Tis in the Florida studio through a Pro Tools plug-in called Source Live. “It’s real time, full-bandwidth and much quicker than uploading to a Website or FTP or sending MP3s,” Scott says.

Revelator is sure to please Trucks and Tedeschi’s ardent fanbases. The 12 original songs beautifully showcase Tedeschi’s power and range as they move from ballads to rave-ups to rockin’ numbers. Trucks’ playing is economical but still intense and filled with passion. And the band as a whole is a wonderful, well-oiled machine with chops galore and lots of personality. Besides being a tremendous artistic triumph, the recording project also succeeded in one of its main objectives—keeping Tedeschi and Trucks close to home. They built kid hang-out time into their schedule whenever possible, and when they couldn’t, Trucks has so much family in the area there were always willing sitters available. “From the time I was 11 or 12 years old, I’ve been on the road non-stop,” Trucks says. “So just to be home at all is so refreshing. Having the kids around and sleeping in our own bed was a nice bonus. This is a good way for us to make records.”






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