Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Wheels of Soul Tour Hits the Road with L-Acoustics
PRG supplies K2/KS28 loudspeaker package for the group’s latest North American jaunt.
JACKSONVILLE, Florida – August 2022 – The Grammy Award-wining Tedeschi Trucks Band is known for its relentless touring, but plans for the group’s sixth Wheels of Soul Tour, originally slated for 2020, obviously had to put on the brakes for a couple of years. Now the band is finally back out doing what it does best, rolling through its North American tour accompanied by opening acts Los Lobos and Gabe Dixon as well as an L-Acoustics K2 loudspeaker system supplied by PRG.
The current tour leg comes on the heels of a three-week break from Wheel of Soul’s initial return to the road, which kicked off on June 24 in Jacksonville, Florida, hometown of vocalist/guitarist Susan Tedeschi and guitarist Derek Trucks, the band’s two married principals who front a 12-piece band often augmented by guest artists. Recently picking back up at San Diego’s Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheater on August 18, the West Coast run is stopping at a mix of amphitheaters, sheds, and theaters, before the group moves into New York City’s Beacon Theatre in late September for its annually sold-out residency of seven shows. An 18-date European tour in October and November is currently on the books to follow.
The PA for the North American tour is in the capable hands of two longtime TTB crew members: FOH Engineer/Production Manager Brian Speiser and Systems Engineer Chris Bedry. “When Chris and I were deciding what would be best for the Wheels of Soul Tour, we wanted a system that would cover the larger venues with a big, full-range sound,” shares Speiser, who has previously mixed tours for Indigo Girls, Brandi Carlile, and They Might Be Giants. “We wanted to pull that off without having to fly subs because there’s only the two of us deploying the entire rig every day. Chris pointed out that if we flew a K2 rig, we could probably push a good amount of low end throughout the venue without the need for flown subs. I decided that we would go that route rather than add the extra labor and gear to fly subs along with the system we had been using on prior tours, and Chris was right. K2 definitely gives us the ability to throw low end farther than we had before and with extremely even coverage throughout each venue.”
TTB sound checking for its recent show at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre.
Speiser notes that his fondness for L-Acoustics goes back to experiencing V-DOSC years ago. “The first time I mixed on V-DOSC was a revelation,” he recalls. “I appreciated the way that every instrument lived in its own space. On other systems, if instruments had similar characteristics, especially in the lower registers, I would often have to over-EQ to keep those instruments from competing for space. On V-DOSC, that wasn’t the case. Instruments just played nicely together, and it had a very musical yet high fidelity feeling. Tedeschi Trucks Band started touring with a Kara rig in Europe a few years ago and I was impressed by how much those boxes can do when deployed correctly. We had also played a couple of festivals with K1 and K2 rigs and had excellent results with both.”
Although the current tour’s PA deployment changes from day to day based on differing venue sizes and weight restrictions, the most common show design features 16 K2 enclosures flown per side for the main hangs, with side hangs each sporting eight Kara. Below, six KS28 subs per side are set up in two stacks of three arranged in a cardioid configuration, with six Kara spread across the stage delivering front-fill. For power, the tour’s LA-RAK racks house 18 LA8 amplified controllers for the mains and front-fills plus six LA12X driving the side hangs and subs.
According to Speiser, one of the things that the band members appreciate is that they aren’t having to “compete” with the subs or the back of this PA. “With the K Series, the little sound they hear coming off the back of the cabinets is enjoyable and easy to play along with, so I’m not having to make as many critical mix choices based on the band being affected by the front-of-house sound. I’ve also found that I don’t need to push a large amount of low-end energy from subs since the PA really has a full range. We run the few KS28 we’re using in cardioid, so the extra low information we are adding to the mix doesn’t interfere with the band.
“Out front, I definitely feel like the coverage has been extremely even throughout the venues. I notice some variances in volume in the very far seats, but it’s not a change in frequency response. What you hear in the back of the venues is representative of what you hear closer to the stage, just a little quieter. And the shows have been sounding consistently good on this tour, even in some of the more difficult environments.”
Tedeschi Trucks Band (pictured here with members of Los Lobos) is carrying a PRG-supplied L-Acoustics K2 system out on its North American Wheels of Soul Tour
Bedry agrees that the coverage has been exceptional and he’s quick to credit Soundvision’s newer tools for their part. “The Autosolvers have really been helpful,” he says. “Autosplay dials in my PA angles very well—there have been a few times that I’ve made some minor tweaks, but I mostly go with the what Autosplay generates. And the Autofilters have really allowed me to very quickly achieve optimal levels and coverage with this system, taking into consideration atmospheric conditions, SPL targets, and frequency response. Doing more work in the prediction file before I plug in a single piece of gear has been extremely beneficial. The results when I turn on the PA have been consistent and accurate, and I find myself doing a lot less work in the tuning process to get even frequency and level responses across the venue.
“I also love the flexibility I have in being able to adjust the HF pattern with Panflex on the K2. At first, I was very skeptical of using the 90-degree setting, but I’ve come around to the idea of asymmetrical horn patterns. Not only is it working great for imaging, but it’s also allowing me to keep high end from bouncing off the walls in more narrow venues, which ultimately helps us achieve the high-fidelity sound we’re aiming for day to day.”
Bedry further points out that the quality of sound has been appreciated by both fans and artists alike. “I’ve gotten a bunch of comments about this system’s sound from many different people,” he says. “Derek [Trucks] and Falcon [drummer Tyler Greenwell] have spoken to me several times about the ease of playing behind this PA. They’re pumped about how little the FOH sound is affecting what they’re hearing on stage. And Skip [tour manager Ken Richman] also remarked on how good it’s been sounding.”
Speiser and Bedry are also very appreciative of the support they’ve received, both from PRG and L-Acoustics. “The customer service that we’ve had from David Brooks and Vic Wager at L-Acoustics as well as Chance Stahlhut, Joe Biegel, and all of the folks at PRG in getting transitioned over to this L-Acoustics rig has been unmatched,” Speiser adds. “They’ve all gone above and beyond to welcome us and to make sure that we were well prepared and comfortable with the gear and software, and that’s been a huge part of our success.”
For details on the band’s upcoming tour stops, visit www.tedeschitrucksband.com.
(L-R) Systems Engineer Chris Bedry and PM/FOH Engineer Brian Speiser.