The Tedeschi Trucks Band is the perfect fit to christen the stage of the new Daily’s Place Amphitheatre. Not only is guitar prodigy Derek Trucks a Jacksonville native, the new 5,500-seat venue adjacent to EverBank Field fuses two of his favorite passions; live music and Jaguars football. “I’m pretty excited about it. I would never ask but when I heard about it being built, always in the back of my mind I was like ‘that would be fun to open up’,” says Trucks. “We’ve been season ticket holders from year one so it’s exciting to be there. It should be fun. Susan played the kick-off party for Tortugas in Jacksonville Beach in 1995. It’s a little bit full circle, you know? Tom Coughlin’s back. Maybe we can get back on track. We’ll do what we can.”
The Grammy Award-winning R&B ensemble featuring Trucks and wife Susan Tedeschi will play the inaugural concert May 27 at Daily’s Place Amphitheatre, located at the south end of the stadium complex. Trucks says bringing a mid-size music venue like Daily’s Place to the First Coast will help bring more attention to Jacksonville as a concert destination for national touring bands. “It’s a good size venue. A lot of towns don’t have that mid-size. You either have an arena or most places have small clubs but not that 4,000 to 6,000-seat range. There’s a lot of bands that tour that are that size and I think it will be good get more national acts in,” he says. He hopes the new addition will also give the downtown area the push it needs to return to its former glory. “I hope that it comes around down there. I enjoyed so much as a kid going down to Metro Park. I saw Miles Davis there and Ray Charles. It felt a little more vibrant then and I feel like it’s coming back around. It’s getting to a good place with the amphitheater and the Shipyards and all these ideas will really bring it alive. Every time I’m down in that area, it just seems so ripe for it.”
Trucks talks about the time he hit the Jags vs. Vikings game with TTB singer and Minneapolis native Mike Mattison and his buddies from back home. They arrived downtown by boat, docking at Metro Park and walking over to the game. Afterwards, they stopped by a few of the nearby breweries. “There’s not a lot of places in the world where you can do that. It’s a pretty amazing set up,” says Trucks. “It’s going to come around eventually and certainly something like this amphitheater is going to push it in that direction.”
“For a band like ours, there’s a lot of improvisation. The sound and the feel of a room is pretty important. A band like ours is kind of made for a smaller amphitheater like that,” he says. “There’s a lot of sound coming off the stage. If it’s too small of a room, you kind of have to adjust the way you play. But I think [Daily’s Place] is about the right size. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Live music is the central focus of the band’s most recent release “Live at Fox Oakland.” The album was recorded during the second show of a two-night stint at the Fox and includes a DVD of the performance. The idea of filming a sort of band documentary had been floating around for a while and Trucks says the Fox show was the right time to package as a visual accompaniment to the music. “It’s a big crazy group running down the road and it’s a unique thing. I thought it was worth capturing where we’re all coming from,” he says. “We decided to bring a film crew out about a week before the show to get to know everyone. When I watched the final cut, I was like ‘I know these people. That feels familiar’.” The band was off during the first night of filming but by the second night, everyone found the groove and the crew caught lightning in a bottle. “I think [filming] affected everyone a little bit. We were a little tight. There was a lot of activity backstage. After the show, I was like ‘let’s shut it down’. We gig first. Celebrate when it’s over,” says Trucks. “There was a different vibe the next night. Everybody showed up. The second night was the one that ended up being the record and the film. The first night, not feeling as great as it can, kind of pulled the bowstring back a little bit. So the next night when we started playing, there was a wave of release and musicality. The band was in a really good place that night and every once in awhile, you capture it. Usually you only get one crack at it. Having two chances made all the difference. By the second night, all the camera jitters were gone and it captured the band in a really natural state which is what you’re after in a live record. We’re not trying to pull anything over on anybody.”
For Trucks, Tedeschi, and the rest of the crazy, musical circus, connecting with the audience is the sweet spot they strive to reach night after night. Despite logging hundreds of hours on stage, the band never duplicates a setlist. Trucks has a black folder with all of the set lists for the last five or six years. If he’s got plans for the Daily’s Place opening, Trucks isn’t giving anything away but he isn’t ruling out the possibility of a live record from his hometown. “I’m not sure what kind of angle we’re going to take yet. We might throw in some new tunes. If people are really familiar with the band, you can dig in a little deeper. Since it’s a new venue and a new show, I can’t tell if there’s going to be a lot of fresh faces so maybe we’ll play tunes that are not quite as challenging but we’ll still throw in some shit to make people uncomfortable. We can’t help ourselves,” he says. “Who knows down the road? We’re starting to record every show we do on multi-track so if you have a great night, I always make mental notes. We talk about trying to release a live record every year or every six months, maybe something just for the fans. I think it’s something we’ll do and hopefully we’ll have a great show here that makes the cut.” Catch the Tedeschi Trucks Band live at Daily’s Amphitheatre on May 27.