Spotlight on Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade
Miss Tess is a young, Boston-based songwriter, whose “Modern Vintage” sound bridges eras and genres. True to the tradition, her vocals can soar or caress as she strums and picks her way through an array of styles- from ragtime to blues, country to swing.
Tess writes songs with the folk sensibilities of a troubadour that engage roots-devotees and newcomers alike. A typical set conjures a cast of dreamers and lovers, down on their luck and charming their ways in and out of trouble, with familiar faces mingling in the crowd, courtesy of folks like Bessie Smith and Tom Waitsóperpetual muses to her style.
This past November, Tess won the 27th biannual Open Mic Shootout at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, Ga. As the winner, she performed on the 2008 Cayamo music cruise with headliners Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett.
Tess first joined the Cambridge folk scene in 2005, when she formed The Bon Ton Parade, a dynamic, solo-swapping combo, comprised of sax and clarinet, upright bass, brushes on drums, and backing harmonies.
The Bon Tons began playing at rootsy hotspots like Club Passim, The Lizard Lounge, and The Plough & Stars. In 2006 they clinched an indefinite Sunday night residency at Toad, a cozy live-music joint off of Mass Ave in Porter Square.
In May of 2007, they released their first album, entitled “Modern Vintage,” a term she coined to describe her emerging style of contemporary music strongly infused with the flavors of early jazz and its relatives.
In 2007, Tess also recorded “When Tomorrow Comes,” an album comprised of jazz standards in the vein of Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, alongside two original compositions. The album’s release party was held at the historic Blues Alley in Washington D.C. where Tess sang to a sold out crowd.
Much of her style stems from her musical upbringing. In her Baltimore youth, Tess was lullabied by the sounds of her father’s Big Band rehearsing in a basement below her bedroom. Her mother played upright bass, and large jam parties were a familiar household sound.
Tess studied classical piano as a child, and in her teens, began banging out her first few chords on an acoustic guitar. By her early 20’s, she had fallen in love with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn and her guitar playing took a turn for the better under the tutelage of local jazzer Steve Abshire.
Celebrating Independence Day at The Blue Vine this Friday: Miss Tess on guitar and vocals, Alec Spiegelman on sax/clarinet, Paul Dilley on upright bass and Gillian DeLear on percussion. There will be a $5 cover at the door.
The Blue Vine is located at 209 S. Main St. They will be open Friday 11 a.m.-midnight. Miss Tess performs 8:30-11:30 p.m.
For more information call 704-797-0093.
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