Miss Tess isn't a traveling schoolteacher with a nasty class of disobedient students, the Talk Backs. Rather, the Brooklyn, NY, musician is a smooth-singing troubadour, influenced by only the best blues and country-western virtuosos.
Her most recent album, The Love I Have For You, is a tribute of sorts to those formative musicians featuring six cover songs, and one original that takes notes from the idols Miss Tess musically worships.
"[The covers] are all songs written by folks we truly admire as American musicians and songwriters: Ted Hawkins, Hank Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Randy Newman, and Neil Young," said Miss Tess. "These are all what I call 'lifers' who dedicated, or are still dedicating, their lives to music."
One of Miss Tess' biggest influences is sultry blues mistress Bonnie Raitt.
"I first heard her 1972 album, Give It Up, when I was maybe 20-years-old. I just instantly fell into her voice," said Miss Tess. "I also have a ton of respect for her musically, as being a great guitarist and singer, and just being able to cope with all the shit life throws at you."
Miss Tess is a budding guitarist in her own right, wailing on her signature vintage archtop Weymann guitar, a classic hollow-body beauty, and unique find for a young musician like Tess.
"I found it via Craigslist in Boston from a guitar collector who had 'too many guitars' according to his wife," explained Miss Tess. "I instantly fell in love with how it looked, and then the tone was even sweeter. As far as I can tell, it's a late '30s guitar, and it's been my main axe since then. I had the neck raised and a Johnny Smith pickup put it, and it still retains its nice sound running through a tube amp."
Miss Tess was born from the sounds of the past. It's her penchant for vintage echoes, equipment and aesthetic, and the ability to blend the past seamlessly into the present that makes Miss Tess & the Talkbacks a special sight to behold.
"I listened to all kinds of music growing up. Everything from classical to rap to Motown to popular music of the '80s and '90s, to obscure swing, jazz, and blues music played by my folks and their bands," said Miss Tess of her influences. "The music I've been writing lately has been influenced by '50s and '60s classic country, blues, rock and roll. We like stuff with soul that people can dance to."
Miss Tess & the Talkbacks
Tue., Aug. 5
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr.