On The Beat with Tess Jehle



On The Beat with Tess Jehle


Tess Jehle's recipe for drumming delight is simple: a dash of metronome, a serving of fun, and a big-ol’ helping of listening. Whether listening to different styles and new music, or listening to bandmates and the audience, listening is the key ingredient. The result is Tess’s sublime combination of rhythms and textures with a tangy, yet delicately measured, zip. This St. Charles, MO native came to UMKC in 2005 and has been drumming – and listening – in the KC music scene for 3 years.

The Deli: Who are you playing with these days, and what makes them worthy of your skill?

Tess Jehle: I currently play in two bands. The B'Dinas, which I started with four of my friends at UMKC in 2009 and Dream Wolf, which I joined about a year and a half ago. After seeing them perform and really liking their music, I was lucky enough to be asked to join.

Honestly, I have the privilege of playing with some of the best musicians in Kansas City. I feel like I'm not worthy of them sometimes.

The Deli: Tell us about your process. How do you create your drum parts?

TJ: I definitely have a connection with my guitarists. I know there is supposed to be a bond between drummer and bassist, and don't get me wrong I love my bass players (Peter Lawless and Brent Jamison), but I really connect with my guitarists. I almost always use guitar riffs and melodies as the inspiration for my beats and drum parts. And I am fortunate enough to play with two of the best guitarists I have ever seen: Katy Guillén in The B'Dinas and Chris Tady in Dream Wolf.

The Deli: How did you get started on drums?

TJ: My parents encouraged me when I showed an interest in music. They are the reason I was able to start playing. My dad signed me up for drum lessons at a local music store when I was 11. I loved drumming from the minute I sat down at the set. I begged for my own drum set and he told me if I stuck with the lessons for 1 year then he would buy me one. Sure enough, he bought me my first kit a year later.

I took lessons for 3 years until high school. Then I joined the marching band. Oh yeah, I was a total band nerd. My drumline coaches in high school, Mark Thomas and Mike Davis, were amazing drummers and taught me so much not only about playing, but also about performing.

The Deli: Would you rather be a cymbal or a drum?

TJ: I think I would be a bass drum. It's always been my favorite. It's the biggest and the baddest.

The Deli: Of the music you've recorded, what's your favorite song? Did you have any particular inspiration for it?

TJ: “Movin' Movin” off The B'Dinas latest EP, Morning Party. I mainly used the guitar licks of the song to develop the beats that I play. Katy Guillén wrote that song; it has a great feel to it, and I had a lot of fun with it. 

These sounds tend to pull me in and out of being present. At times they distract me from the task or conversation at hand, and at other times they serve as reminders to stop, take a moment and remember that I am alive. I guess I hear them as an invitation to slow down.

The Deli: Obligatory question…drumming heroes?

TJ: Chris Coleman – he plays with amazing style and precision. Benny Greb – he's an awesome, grooving, funky drummer out of Germany. Carter Beauford – he's just an awesome drummer. I loved Dave Matthews Band when I was younger, and he has always been a drum idol of mine.

The Deli: When are you happiest?

TJ: When I can balance my playing and time with my fiancé, family and friends.

The Deli: Studio or live show?

TJ: That's tough. I like recording because there is something about being in the studio that makes me focus…because you know what ever you play that day will be the way people will hear the song over and over. It throws me into intense focus. I also really love playing live. There is a spontaneity in the playing that is always fun. There is nothing like the energy you get from a crowd of people dancing to your music.

You can be one of those people dancing to Tess’s music by catching her in action at The Brick with The B'Dinas on June 22 and with Dream Wolf on June 23.

 -Sergio Moreno

Sergio is a drummer drone for The Hillary Watts Riot and a contraption set buffoon with Alacartoona. He wishes he could get paid to practice meditation, do yoga, and drink white tea all day long. But in the meantime he earns his keep making greeting cards in Spanish.


Tess Jehle


The B'Dinas
Morning Party

Morning Party

Dream Wolf




Latest News from The Record Machine

Two bands from Kansas City record label The Record Machine have released a couple impressive singles.

Making Movies has released its newest single, "Hangover Blues," off the 7"/digital EP Aguardiente. The Afro-Cuban/rock group, one of the most successful bands in Kansas City, has been on tour for the EP since the end of May. They come back through KC on June 25 at Jerry's Bait Shop in Lee's Summit and end the tour in Chicago on June 29. Stream the new single below.

La Guerre will soon be releasing a 3-song single, which includes the song "23" off the 12" collaborative effort between The Record Machine and Golden Sound Records, Secret Handshakes. La Guerre is the solo effort of singer-songwriter Katlyn Conroy, also of Cowboy Indian Bear. Conroy kicked off her Southern Projections tour last week, heading through Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.


Show review: Deco Auto/Gas Pump Talent/The Empty Spaces at recordBar 6.9.12

Deco Auto -- This fun-lovin’ 3-piece, whose songs all have a heartbeat to their rhythm, laid down the ground rules for the evening in 4/4 time; making it impossible not to wag your head to, while incessantly checking for loose floorboards under your shoe. With a nostalgic power-pop rock jingle, their dulcet vocal harmonies transformed you into a suburban kid on an adventure in a sugary coming-of-age summer movie. Their sound is reminiscent of earlier Soul Asylum and The Replacements, had those bands cut their teeth jamming with Dave Clark Five. Lead singer/guitarist Steven Garcia’s crunchy Les Paul guitar riffs bounced along in anthem to the purist backbeat stamped out tightly by Kansas City drum darling, Michelle Bacon. Wrapping a sexy vine around the triplet’s delight was the carefully melodic bassist/backing vocalist, Tracy Flowers – a perfect last name, when considering her sixties-styled vocal harmonies with Garcia. Blending well into their set were covers of “Needles & Pins” (Nitzsche/Bono, 1963), and “Time Won’t Let Me” (The Outsiders, 1966).

Next up, Gas Pump Talent from Springfield, MO – who describe their own sound as “stomp and holler” – showed they’ve learned to cunningly mash-up more acoustic genres than can be listed – and well. Sadly, I was out of eyesight of the stage throughout their relatively short set. Fortunately, I heard them just fine – recordBar’s sound guys consistently set a high bar. Gas Pump Talent showcased musically captivating, campfire, Ozark-styled country-crunk that had DNA speckles of Dylan, Springsteen and Waits sprinkled throughout. Their performance was infectious, often lending to an Irish folk vibe that beckoned you to order a whiskey drink, pull a chair up front, and sing along with any reoccurring stanza you heard. I recall debating their genre with some friends as we listened…this was much in vein, which always makes me happy. The Midwest consistently cultivates great bands that are hard to paint into a corner. ¡Viva Springfield!

Closing the night down for the evening was another 3-piece from Kansas City – The Empty Spaces. Their rock n’ roll blend of (dare I say) country, rockabilly and surf beach party made for attention-grabbing jams, which featured a squirrely Mat Shoare dancing about, yelping Femmes-esque vocals into the mic, while playing hooky rhythms on his guitar. Widening out their sound was the ever-busy, hard-hitting drum licks of Ross Brown, and jovial out-of-the-box bass man about town, William Brent Wright – who was stripped down to his under tank top by the night’s end. The guys looked like they were having a good ol’ time up on stage, which added to the decent-sized audience looking loose and ready to party – and that they did.

It was a fun, energetic night, with three bands that stylistically are different from one another, but together on a bill – made for a great Saturday night at the recordBar.

--Christian Anders Liljequist

Christian is a freelance writer. He will graduate from UMKC in the spring of 2013 with a BA in Communication Studies (Journalism & Mass Communication).


Show review: Ha Ha Tonka/The Roseline at The Jackpot, 6.7.12

A room full of eager, starry-eyed 30-somethings with sweat dripping from their pores. Lukewarm beers. Ceiling fans halfheartedly oscillating. The first signs of summer hit Lawrence at The Jackpot on Thursday night.

The evening began with Lawrence band The Roseline (pictured above), a group that has been made up of Colin Halliburton and a plethora of other revolving musicians since its 2005 inception. The group--a four-piece with standard instrumentation on Thursday--played to a steadily growing crowd, with its tightly-knit blend of country and Americana rock. The band weaved between sweet love songs and emotional songs of desperation. Elements of Neil Young's simple but brilliant song arrangements rang through The Roseline's music, accompanied by Halliburton's steady, easy-to-embrace vocals.

By the time The Roseline's set ended, the club was abuzz with a healthy balance of satisfaction and anticipation. From the moment Ha Ha Tonka kicked in with the a cappella intro of "St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor" to the end of the heavy-driving "Usual Suspects," the audience was in a thrilled, sweaty uproar. Brian Roberts commanded the stage with a robust vocal presence and a positive vibe felt by the entire room. His bandmates played with the same level of proficiency and vigor, not simply captivating the audience with the musical performance but with a collective, good-natured and overall playful energy.

For nearly an hour, the rhythm section of Lennon Bone and Luke Long pounded away alongside Roberts' clear, potent voice and Brett Anderson's upfront mandolin and lead guitar work. They consistently showcased their characteristic penchant for four-part harmonies, culminating in the a cappella song "Hangman," an old folk standard first popularized by Leadbelly. The crowd seemed familiar with their songs, which were mostly off their 2011 release Death of A Decade. Their mix of insightful lyrics with a blend of roots and feel-good rock was a hit with the most bearded of fans and college kids that may have wandered in out of summer break woes.

Ha Ha Tonka has received its fair share of national recognition. The band has appeared on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, played national fests like Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza, toured with national acts such as Meat Puppets, Murder By Death and Old 97s, and is currently signed to Bloodshot Records (with the likes of Ryan Adams, Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle). The attention is well-deserved, as the group puts a unique spin on the folk music of the Ozarks, infusing it with rock, bluegrass and a healthy dose of soul. On Thursday and throughout their tour together, the raw sound of Ha Ha Tonka complemented the soulful voice of Langhorne Slim perfectly.

Editor's note: Since The Deli deals strictly with local/regional bands, we did not highlight Langhorne Slim's performance, but rest assured, he killed it.

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco Auto, Drew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. In her spare time, she has no spare time, but fantasizes of the day where she can sleep and eat and travel to places where she can sleep and eat some more.



Album review: Appropriate Grammar - Lies and Stories

There’s some music that’s intricately intertwined with the feeling you get from a weekend whiskey binge. From the initial burn of the first drink to the last sip of the bottle, the emotions and thoughts that drive that binge are have long been subjects for great storytelling and songwriting. Appropriate Grammar’s release Lies and Stories is the musical equivalent to a weekend whiskey bender, if there was a universe where you could drink whiskey all weekend and still speak with eloquent clarity.

This 10-song set rambles on like the smartest heartbroken drunk you’ve ever met. Lyrically speaking, this is one of the better releases I’ve heard in awhile, so much so that I stopped during some songs to go back and catch a line again. With varied stories of fighting all night with a significant other ("Lover’s Quarrel") to dealing with an existential crisis ("Chosen Children"), the lyrical palette of this album reflects a wandering spirit coming to terms with the human experience. And it rocks.

Fast-paced shuffles by drummer Steve Gardels and jangling, well-placed guitar hooks by Alex Dunsford provide an inspiring platform for Nick McKenna’s cool and seemingly calculated vocal delivery. Bassist and vocalist Claire Adams adds color to many of these songs, particularly "High and Lonely," which gives the album some breathing room with a beautiful duet. In a weekend binge scenario, this is the song you’re listening to when the bottle runs dry, it’s time to go to bed, but you have no idea where you are or how to get home.

Not many bands can pull off rollicking, melodic songs that are emotional, smart and fun without coming off as being pretentious or downright aggravating, but Appropriate Grammar seems to have a formula down that works well for what they are doing, like an Old-Fashioned served with just the right amount of bitters.

-Mike Tipton

Mike is a KC native that enjoys new music and playing with his band, Molly Picture Club. He also enjoys people watching and documentaries by Ken Burns.