You might be Susan Tedeschi, a three-time Grammy nominee, ass-kicking blues and soul singer/songwriter with a certified gold record and numerous stellar musical collaborations to your credit, but, alas, you can still be shown up by your kid.
“You should see my six year-old on that thing [Nintendo’s Wii game console],” she says. “His favorite is the tennis. And I’m like, ‘How are you good at tennis?'” Her voice grows even more animated as she explains the game. “You can get medals. Bronze, silver, gold. If you’re super-good, you can get platinum.” Then there’s her son’s achievement. “He says, ‘Oh, I’ve got 17 platinums and four golds.’ And I’m like, ‘What?'” She laughs. “I mean, I might have a gold. It’s hilarious.”
Mom won’t have much idle time in the foreseeable future to improve her score. If all goes to plan, she’ll have a new album on the Verve label coming out in the fall.
She’s excited about the nearly two dozen new songs she’s penned for it. Beginning in late April, she’ll be on tour. In May, she’ll hit the recording studio. Then it’s back on the road for the next few months, alternating between her own band and Soul Stew Revival, in which she shares the bill with husband Derek Trucks (of the Allman Brothers Band and Derek Trucks Band).
In the near term, she’ll be working within the confines of what she calls a “strange place.”
“I actually had a whole vision for this album,” she says. “It’s really difficult to say exactly where this record’s going to go because I had a plan for it and I was ready to record it. I’ve already done a bunch of demos that are better than any of my records have been in the past. So I’m really in a strange place now because it really has to do with the label approving what I do.”
Much of that, she explains, is because the forthcoming album, unlike her most recent release, Hope and Desire (Verve), is slated to showcase many of those new songs she’s been writing. “Now that I’m doing all these originals it seems like the record can go in all these different directions,” she says. “So the label is putting more of their influence on which direction they like.”
Tedeschi makes it sound like an all’s-well-that-ends-well scenario. “I think it’s going to be great [whatever songs make the final cut] because everything’s been a lot of fun to play and I’m really passionate about a lot of the songs.”
She’s excited about her upcoming tour as well. It turns out that when you’re a mom, being on tour is a nice break.
“It’s almost a selfish break because I get to go and play music and work out and read books,” she says. “Things I don’t normally do. When you have kids, you just don’t have time to do any of that [giggles]. I’m looking forward to it.”
She’s has some short breaks for travel — to collaborate on songwriting and, not too long ago, for a special occasion. She surprised her husband for their sixth wedding anniversary by meeting him at the airport in Hawaii as he got off a plane from Japan. There were more surprises in store. The couple was invited to spend a few days with Willie and Annie Nelson at their place on Maui.
Of her friend Willie, Tedeschi says, “He’s a sweetheart. Incredibly down to earth. I started my friendship with Willie back in ’99 doing the first Farm Aid I did. He’s been incredibly generous.” During their stay, Willie even taught them how to play dominos.
She did not mention if she’d fared any better with dominos than Wii tennis. The question was not pressed.