Miss Tess & the Talkbacks finishes off successful Kenmore concert series

Members of Miss Tess & The Talkbacks performed at  Kenmore’s Summer Concert Series this year to a full crowd. The band is from New York and performed in Kenmore for the first time. - Courtesy Photo
Members of Miss Tess & The Talkbacks performed at Kenmore’s Summer Concert Series this year to a full crowd. The band is from New York and performed in Kenmore for the first time.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Miss Tess sang her first song on stage when she was 13.

“My folks are musicians so at first it was because of their encouragement I got on stage,” she said. “I always liked to sing but it took a while to get over being shy and nervous.”

Miss Tess picked up her first guitar at age 20 and put together a band.

“The band members change every once in a while, depending on people’s endurance for being on the road,” she said. “We play anywhere we can basically, which includes clubs, bars, festivals, coffee shops, living rooms, grocery stores, zoos and botanical gardens.”

Most recently, Miss Tess took her band Miss Tess & the Talkbacks to Northshore to play at Kenmore’s Concert Series, which occurred from the last few weeks of July through Aug. 14.

“We’ve heard great things about the series from our Seattle friends, and luckily it fit right into our touring schedule,” Miss Tess said.

The Kenmore Summer Concert Series is organized by the city of Kenmore. The 12th annual Kenmore Summer Concert Series offered live music Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Saint Edward State Park.

Many concertgoers brought blankets, lawn chairs and picnic dinners to share a special summer night by the open stage. Food vendors were on-site.

The Brooklyn-based singer and band offers a unique sound that is difficult to categorize into a traditional genre. Miss Tess & the Talkbacks provide cover and original songs that have been described as “early Tom Waits-esque lounge ballads, old timey country, a dollop of folk rock and a sprinkle of catchy jazz.” Another reviewer defined the band as “modern vintage music that nods to the traditions of saloon jazz, country swing, early rockabilly and New Orleans second line, yet somehow maintains a unique and personal sound.”

When Miss Tess has been asked to describe her music, she says it has evolved over the years and has “become slightly edgier and there is some more country and early rock n’ roll coming through,” citing the fact her band has added two electric guitar players.

The band released its latest EP in October 2013 featuring six cover songs from Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Bonnie Raitt and more, as well as one original, “The Love I Have For You,” which is a flashback sound of the rock n’ roll era such as Elvis Presley. Miss Tess is also the winner of the 2008 Boston Music Award for “Outstanding Folk Artist of the Year” and the 2012 New England Music Award for “Jazz Act of the Year.”

Other featured musicians in the concert series included 1939 Ensemble and McTuff. From Oregon, the 1939 Ensemble is a trio comprised of percussionists Jose Medeles and David Coniglio, who switch off playing vibraphones and drums while mixing in dissonance noise to sharp bombastic beats. Josh Thomas joined them on trumpet and other instuments. The band’s sound has also been described as somewhere between jazz, ambient and rock. 1939 has recently completed a studio recording.

McTuff provided an innovative funk and jazz sound. This Seattle-based band is led by Hammond organist Joe Doria and includes guitarist Andy Coe and drummer Tarik Abouzied. McTuff has performed across the USA from Seattle’s Bumbershoot to the New Orleans Jazz Fest. Members of the band have performed with world-renowed artist including Carlos Santana, Stanton Moore, Ravi Coltrane, Bobby Previte, and many others.

The band released their third record titled McTuff Volume 3 this past Spring. They were also showcased in a new music show called Band in Seattle that aired on March 8. For the past five years, the band has held residency at Seattle’s legendary Seamonster Lounge and is currently touring throughout Washington and Oregon.

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