[image-1] Doing work sounds good.

Summertime is here with a vengeance. The South Carolina heat index has been topping out around 110 degrees and the activities one choses to engage in during these suffocating times is usually dictated by said heat index. On Sun. July 1, I had good ol’ yard work to do. This day’s duties consisted of landscaping demolition in the form of bringing down a thirty foot tree that died in the corner of my yard. All these tasks needed to be completed before cutting loose to listen to some Sunday rhythm and blues at Daniel Island’s Volvo Car Stadium as the Wheels of Soul tour rolled through, headlined by the Tedeschi Trucks band.

The chainsaw is the most temperamental of my yard tools — the procedure to start the engine is very detailed. After many unsuccessful cranks I was up and running, only to be thwarted at first bark with a thrown chain. After questioning my existence and the decision to tackle such an undertaking in 90 percent humidity, I made the commitment: it’s going to be me or the tree. This thing is coming down. I gathered my senses, re-thought my plan, (which consisted of YouTube videos on fixing a chainsaw chain), and went at it with a new sense of determination, reinforcing my decision.  [image-4] The gates of the Volvo Tennis Stadium opened up around 6 p.m. The heat was still beating down as determined music fans filled in to hear the Marcus King band. Marcus King, a Greenville native, and guitar savant, crushes the blues with his tonality and bleeds his soul through a voice that mimics the late Charles Bradley. It’s hard to believe that all that sound belts from a 22 year old man. I love Marcus King, but like that damn chainsaw that I couldn’t get started, I missed his set. The heat of that evening sun was too much to bear.

The Athens, Ga. rock band Drive-By Truckers were next at the wheel. Their cacophonous sound is as gruff as their appearance. These men have been on the scene since ’96, and it showed as the audience was dotted with forty-something year old fans who danced with a mix of swaying and head banging. The fans were starting to creep into the stadium as the sun began to fall behind the grandstands, offering reprieve.

Once I had the chain back on the saw, it was time to get busy. I was a bit apprehensive about bringing down the 30-ft. tree, there being neighbors’ fences a few feet away from the dead tree and all. I knew I had to make precise cuts. I was slow to make the first. I had to commit. I worked my way into the tree, notching the groove to direct the tree to fall.

The Truckers left the stage around 8 p.m. and the sun was finally starting to be a non-factor. The crowd seemed revived by the shade … and the beer. I heard grumblings of shortages through out the crowd. The majority of those grumblings were slurred. Coincidence? [image-2] The single large branch was the first to come down, directly in the path that I needed. This gave me confidence; I became energized. The body of the dead tree was my next victim. Now, I moved with precision. The tall tree fell spot on target, and I was amped up. I wanted more. More to cut. More to demo. More, more, more! Nothing like a man wielding a chainsaw.

Susan Tedeschi and husband Derek Trucks took the stage with their accompanying twelve piece band. Susan and Derek have been rocking together as a musical unit since 2010. Susan’s raspy vocals accompany Trucks’ slide guitar that was born from the back stages of the Allman Brothers Band. They opened with “Tell the Truth,” a Derek and the Dominos cover that, like the first cut of my tree, gave the crowd confidence in the sound. The wheels of soul were starting to get rolling. It wasn’t ’til their third song, “Laugh About It” that Susan’s soul began to pour. With the vocal style reminiscent of a southern preacher, Tedeschi singing out, “Put your hands up,”  the audience was grooving. This felt like a proper show for a Sunday. [image-3] After the tree fell, I looked around my yard for anything else that might need cutting. I was on a roll and I wasn’t stopping. I felt powerful with my saw and the power felt good. I looked around, but their was nothing left that warranted my weapon within reason. I had to retire, after all. I had a show to get to.

Tedeschi Trucks’ 11-song set wouldn’t be enough. The horns were hot, the backup singers well belting, and the beer was gone. All that was left was soul. Soul screaming from the stage, Susan and Derek were preaching. Preaching love. For the encore, Marcus King came out to complete the baker’s dozen on stage. We were ready and they didn’t disappoint. Trucks stood back and let Marcus rip through the lead section of “Leaving Trunk.”  The band closed out their three song encore with an uplifting “Show Me” cover. The Sunday crowd received their communion. I felt blessed to be there.

The day was complete. The job was finished. Time to cool off. [slideshow-1]