One Match Fire [Miss Tess Music]
Miss Tess: vocals & guitar
Thomas Bryan Eaton: guitars, vocals, and synth
Jefferson Hamer: vocals
James Gascoyne: bass
Matt Meyer: drums & percussion
Miss Tess says as a child her nights ended in music. Her parents would sing her to sleep with the gentle, tender sounds of American folk music, occasionally interrupted by their 30s swing band rehearsing in the basement. All grown up, her and her band The Talkbacks [Thomas Bryan Eaton on electric guitar, and a rotating cast on the bass and drums] regularly steal the show at venues with something a little rowdier and more eclectic. Infused with classic country and honky-tonk, southern blues, New Orleans jazz and swing, and sounds of swamp pop and early rock n’ roll, she and her band take pride they are able to blend so many different styles of American roots music and call it their own. Tess is not only very skilled on her own soloing guitar chops, but has been able to hand-pick some of the best accompanying musicians throughout the years as she has toured through all fifty states. Currently based in Nashville, Tess and her band seem to be both from everywhere and nowhere. Between the fusion of their musical styles and constant shows on the road, they are the embodiment of everything that it still home-grown in America.
Miss Tess & The Talkbacks have just released a brand new single, “One Match Fire”, on rootsy label Signature Sounds. The song was included on a 7” vinyl for this year’s Record Store Day. Showcasing a new exploration into a country-rock direction, this tune proves to be a catchy look into a new sound for the band. Their next full-length release is eagerly anticipated.
“One of the toughest things about camping is getting the fire started -- go without it, and you'll end up hungry and chilly. But real masters can get it done with a single match, and Miss Tess & The Talkbacks' ‘One Match Fire’ is a similar feat of excellence. A quick, sharp rhythm section drives the upbeat Americana tune, which ruminates on how it can be tough to kickstart a relationship and keep it going. The song even manages to recall both Karen Dalton and Fleetwod Mac in one swift sweep, and was born out of a real-life camping adventure.” – The Bluegrass Situation Song of the Week pick
Previously released albums by Miss Tess & The Talkbacks include The Love I Have For You, recorded and mixed by Devin Greenwood (Norah Jones, Anais Mitchell, Amos Lee) in Brooklyn, NY. The 7-song album features six covers and one new original and pays homage to some of Tess’s favorite singers and songwriters including Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Ted Hawkins, Randy Newman, and Hank Williams. Miss Tess explains how the band chose the 6 songs to cover: “Each artist we covered has held a special place in the history of our lives, as well as in the history of American music. These folks are all musical giants who dedicated their lives to music, and for that I hold them in the highest esteem.”
2012's Sweet Talk, includes 10 originals and a smoldering cover of "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire, " the Ink Spots classic. The originals include the bawdy cabaret of "Don't Tell Mama," the waltzing "Save Me St. Peter" ("Walking on water is a hell of a stand / With no solid ground and no helping hand."), the dance hop, swamp rocking of "People Come Here for Gold," and the burning jazz blues of "If You Wanna Be My Man," which easily could have been sung by Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan, two of her early idols.
In their earlier incarnation, they were known as Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade and that, says Miss Tess, proved both too small of a box and too confusing. They were consistently confused for a zydeco band or a New Orleans band. "When I conceived of the band in Boston back in 2006 or so, we had a horn player and we were a little more jazz influenced," she says. “In the last couple of years the sound has evolved, something that naturally happens when you spend so much time on the road with a band. We’ve become slightly edgier and there is some more country and early rock n’ roll coming through. We now have two electric guitars. I'd been thinking about a change for a while and we finally settled on a name. With a name like the Talkbacks, it is what it is." That's a good thing because it's not easy to define Miss Tess and the Talkbacks.
Miss Tess also lists Bonnie Raitt and Tom Waits among the artists she admires. Both have that ambitious stylistic range. Waits, she notes, "was able to take some of those older jazz and blues influences and kind of twist them around and do his own thing." That's just what Tess and her band do again and again with top notch musicianship to boot.
"I think we do bring new sounds to the table," she says. "I'm trying to figure out how we do that. Our ears have been informed by different things than the people who were living back then. We're not actively trying to copy anything. We're making fresh arrangements, kind of taking the feeling, style, and soul from some of this older music that we like. "
She says lately the band has taken a turn towards more of a groove. "The newer stuff has been more early rock and roll, some Chuck Berry influence, some Doug Sahm," she says. "I think lately we've been interested in dance music, something with a beat, a groove, something that makes you want to shake around."