NORTH BENNINGTON -- Join us as Brooklyn’s Miss Tess and the Talkbacks intermingle melodic and rhythmic improvisation and interplay with elements of honky-tonk, western swing and golden-era pop standards grace the Basement Stage. Miss Tess will perform with her back up outfit, The Talkbacks, at the Vermont Arts Exchange (VAE) on Saturday, May 18. This Basement Music Series concert begins at 8 p.m.; basement doors open at 7.
While still bearing hallmarks of the simmering, jazz-inflected sound that has made Tess and her former band the Bon Ton Parade a club and festival favorite, her newest album, "Sweet Talk," introduces a more personal mix of influences. By blending her knack for melodic and rhythmic improvisation and interplay with elements of honky-tonk, western swing, and golden-era pop standards, she and her multifaceted supporting band have arrived at a style simultaneously refreshing and hauntingly familiar.
Tess is no stranger to improvisation, either. Her vocals are spontaneous and playful, constantly reinterpreting and rephrasing her melodies without ever losing sight of the song’s underlying emotion. "I change the melody all the time in my own songs," she
says. "That’s my jazz background coming out. The band does the same thing. It keeps things interesting, night after night. That’s why we recorded almost everything on this album live in the studio."
Raised in Maryland, Miss Tess’ mother learned to play upright bass while Tess was still in the womb, and her saxophone-playing father rehearsed a big band in the basement of their home. "I come at it from an honest perspective and sing songs that I truly feel," she says. "I grew up listening to this old music, so my passion for it is unavoidable." Moving to Boston 2005 exposed her to the town’s thriving roots music scene, which in turn encouraged the flowering of her eclectic sensibilities. She left for New York five years later. For more information about Miss Tess, visit misstessmusic.com.
Tickets to this concert are $18 through Brown Paper Tickets, the first and only fair-trade ticketing company, at brownpapertickets.com or vtartxchange.org/bms.php, or by calling (toll free) 800-838-3006 -- a small processing fee will be charged. Tickets are $22 at the door on the day of show on a first-come, first-served basis. Student tickets are also available at $10. Libations are available for sale from Thyme Tables Catering, there will be no dinner options for this evening.
Follow the 2013 season on the Basement Music Series Facebook page (facebook.com/VermontArtsExchange) and on Twitter (@BMSatVAE). Up next, The Basement Music Series gets funky with Bennington’s Funk in the Trunk on June 8, and the Chris Bergson Band returns with "Gut-busting, horn-bedecked NY blues" (MOJO) on June 29. On September 8, the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra brings big band to North Bennington in a special Basement Music Series concert at Bennington College.
Vermont Arts Exchange is a fully handicapped-accessible facility. For more information about Vermont Arts Exchange, the 2013 Basement Music Series season, vacation art camps, classes or workshops, contact VAE at 802-442-5549 or visit vtartxchange.org.