Susan Tedeschi is a Boston-born blues chanteuse and guitarist whose career as a bandleader began back in the mid-1990s but whose popularity on the jam band circuit has soared since she began touring in support of the Allman Brothers Band and eventually marrying one of their guitar wizards, Derek Trucks.
She has a distinctively brash and forceful voice, one that is capable of communicating a song's core with equal parts verve and subtlety.
When Tedeschi sings, the lyrics burst out of their shackles to become real and vital stories of a heart's passions and trials.
In concert, new songs like "700 Houses" -- which she co-wrote with John Leventhal and details the emotional and physical devastation inflicted upon a population by Hurricane Katrina and other forces of nature -- are delivered with considerable feeling for the people and places talked about in the lyrics.
Tedeschi can also take "Magnificent Sanctuary Band," a gospel tune written by former rockabilly star Dorsey Burnette and recorded by Donny Hathaway (among others), and drive it to the church in a blues Cadillac.
Tuesday night's concert in UB's Center for the Arts was crowded with moments like these and the audience ate it up. It didn't matter what material Tedeschi and her band played, old or new, the people who bought the tickets also bought her presentation.
They were applauding every song, voicing their approval after solos and bantering with the artist, all of it in such a way that everything meshed together and made the hall seem smaller and more intimate.
Her band was tight and the solos were, on the whole, brief and to the point. When guitarist Dave Yoke or saxophonist Ron Holloway stepped up for their moments in the spotlight it was a joy to hear how many ideas they could compress into each eight bar nugget.
Opening up for Tedeschi was Chicago-based singer/songwriter Joe Pug, whose vocal mannerisms and song structures are throwbacks to the early 1960s when Bob Dylan was prowling the streets of New York and singing songs inspired by Woody Guthrie.
His sly, good-natured humor won over the audience and his songs displayed a quirky outlook at life, love and politics that somehow seemed to hit all the right notes.
"Not So Sure" was one standout that deserves to be covered by other folk or country music artists while the lyrics for "I Do My Father's Drugs" were about so much more than what the title implies.
Pug has opened for Tedeschi before and despite the apparent oddity of an acoustic folk dude, complete with capoed guitar and harmonica rack, setting the stage for a high impact electric blues band, the billing worked pretty well.
Tuesday night in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, Amherst.