Though the live album has been a staple of the recording industry for decades, it still remains one of music’s most potentially frustrating experiences: If one likes an artist enough to listen to a live show, it probably won’t be long before one finds oneself wishing that one could be experiencing it in person instead. Fortunately for fans of Miss Tess & the Bon Ton Parade, the recent release of Live across the Mason Dixon Line has been quickly followed by a series of gigs, including a stop at the Market Market Café in Rosendale this Friday, December 16.
Live across the Mason Dixon Line isn’t exactly a gimmick, though, as its title intimates, it collects a pair of performances in two different parts of the country: Cambridge, Massachusetts and Decatur, Georgia. Recorded exactly one month apart last spring, the shows share some songs and much of the same energy, but there’s enough electricity beyond the stellar musicianship to make it clear that an opportunity actually to witness the music played in person is not to be missed.
“I think we’re a true Americana band, in that we have a lot of influences in early jazz, blues, country and folk,” said Miss Tess over the phone while driving along I-95. “A lot of those influences stem from the ‘40s and ‘50s aesthetic. But it’s not a novelty thing at all. It’s an original thing. It creates a familiar feeling, but it’s new stuff.”
For Tess, being a musician was something of a family affair, and it began at an even earlier age than young prodigies like Mozart. “It all started when I was in my Mom’s belly,” Tess said. “She was learning to play the upright bass, and I kicked every time.”
Tess mentioned artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Waits and Patsy Cline as being part of her mix of influences, and it’s also not unlike listening to one of Woody Allen’s carefully crafted soundtracks, but with the beguiling voice and guitar of Tess and the Bon Ton Parade – Will Graefe on guitar, Danny Weller on upright bass, Matt Meyer on guitar and Raphael McGregor on lap steel – running throughout. They’re young, hip and absolutely timeless.