The room filled up quickly and may have been sold out. This was a WUMB “Third Thursday” concert and so was hosted by their DJ, Jess Phaneuf, who strangely looked exactly like she sounds. Most DJs don’t and you’re surprised when you meet them.
Miss Tess was playing with different people than the last time we saw her, which was two and a half years ago, so that’s no surprise. But it was the same instrumentation: Thomas Bryan Eaton on lead guitarist, a (very tall) bass player, and a drummer with a small but effective kit. She was not playing the big guitar I’ve always seen her with before and love, but the one she had last night was possibly even better. Her guitar sound is so rich and chewy it’s phenomenal. I spent most of the concert just concentrating on her guitar work.
And she’s a great song writer too. They opened with the whirlwind Ride That Train, the opening track on her 2016 record, and later did a few of the other great songs from that, Little Lola (which she said is about her neighbor’s cat, I should have guessed!), I Can’t Help Myself, Take You Break You Shake You, and Going Downtown. She also did several brand new songs, including one that could have been written by Hank himself, it’s got the laconic true life blues set to a deadly melody that he specialized in. I complimented her on that one, and she smiled in her Miss Tess way (we were at the front table of course).
Another thing worth noting is the vocal arrangements were very good. All of the guys filled in at various points and didn't slow her down at all, they just egged her on. She's more of a bandleader than she seemed previously and had the whole sound working and pulling in the right direction.
Had a nice conversation with our neighbors at the table before and after the set, and then bundled up and braved the cold Davis Square air. Luckily the car was not far away and we got home in fine time.