Florida's Derek Trucks helps celebrate the blues at White House
WASHINGTON -- It was a raucous, incongruous sight: A row of guitar amps lining a stage in the White House's stately East Room. But for 90 minutes Tuesday night, they loudly testified in celebration of one of America's original art forms.
"This music speaks to something universal," President Obama said at the outset of the Red White and Blues performance. "No one goes through life without both joy and pain, triumph and sorrow. The blues gets all of that, sometimes with just one lyric or one note."
With the president in the front row with his wife, an all-star cast of musicians -- including Florida's Derek Trucks (in gray suit above) -- transformed the White House into freewheeling showcase that ended with Obama taking the microphone from Mick Jagger and singing a bit of "Sweet Home Chicago."
"Come on, baby don't you want to go," Obama sang.
Performers included B.B. King, at age 86, one of the last living pioneers of the genre, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Keb' Mo' and Jagger, who strutted and flailed across the stage singing, "I Can't Turn You Loose."
Present, too, were a new generation of players, from Trombone Shorty to Shemekia Copeland and Gary Clark Jr., the lanky 28-year-old Texan whose solo performance of "Catfish Blues" had Obama mouthing the words, eyes closed, head shaking.
Trucks, 32, who was raised in Jacksonville and still lives there, took the spotlight with his wife, Susan Tedeschi, and Allman Brothers Band collaborator Warren Haynes. The trio performed Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind," with Tedeschi and Haynes gutting out vocals as Trucks unraveled a condensed but evocative slide solo.
The White House invite was a capstone in a superlative month for Trucks, who won a Grammy for best blues album, Revelator, with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. (On April 20, the group plays the Wanee Music Festival in Live Oak.)
The White House concert was streamed live on the web Tuesday and will be broadcast Monday on PBS.
01. Let the Good Times Roll (Ensemble)
02. The Thrill Is Gone (B.B. King)
03. St. James Infirmary (Trombone Shorty)
04. Let Me Love You Baby (Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck)
05. Brush With The Blues (Beck)
06. I Can’t Turn You Loose (Mick Jagger)
07. Commit A Crime (Jagger, Beck)
08. Miss You (Jagger, Shemekia Copeland, Susan Tedeschi)
09. Beat Up Guitar (Copeland, Gary Clark, Jr.)
10. Catfish Blues (Clark)
11. In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down) (Clark)
12. Henry (Keb’ Mo’)
13. I’d Rather Go Blind (Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes)
14. Five Long years (Guy, Beck, Clark, Jagger)
15. Sweet Home Chicago (Ensemble)
Photos: Associated Press