Craw Thaw a hit in downtown Truckee | SierraSun.com

Craw Thaw a hit in downtown Truckee

The first Truckee Craw Thaw may have turned a bit frosty with temperatures plunging into the 30s and wind whipping around Bridge Street at Moody's Bistro Bar & Beats, but that didn't stop several hundred locals from coming to watch Miss Tess & the Talkbacks, and Otis McDonald close down the music festival with a nearly three-hour performance.

The two bands highlighted a pair of days filled with music, dancing, and film screenings as Truckee was treated to a little taste of the laissez les bon temps rouler lifestyle.

"I've been thinking about doing a crawfish type of event," said James Woodruff, President of Crux Events and event organizer. "I'm a big fan of the New Orleans Jazz Fest, but as I've progressed in my age I don't have the opportunity to go there anymore and so I said, 'Hell I might as well start my own.'"

The two-day festival kicked off April 27 with crawfish, jambalaya, and other Cajun favorites, along with cocktails, and performances by The Easy Leaves and Jazz Mafia Accomplices.

"It definitely encompasses historic downtown Truckee and brings in modern jazz," said Woodruff.

The following day brought games and activities with performances by the Truckee High School Jazz Band, as well as local dance troupes.

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"It was a cultural event. It was really cool to have the kids who were doing the dancing coming by," said Moody's Bistro Bar & Beats Managing Partner JJ Morgan. "That was always our goal — to have more than just music, so we brought in the dancers, we had Tim Manning's film, the games, we targeted Saturday day to be the family component."

According to Morgan, the festival brought in roughly 3,000 people over the two days.

FILM TO START; MUSIC TO FINISH

Manning's screening of "Untold Stories," kicked off the evening events. The screening featured a group of short films highlighting Manning's history of documenting snowboarding around the world. The final film of the series featured a short inspired by a poem from legendary Squaw Valley snowboarder Jeremy Jones called, "Life of Glide." The piece revolved around Jones' lifelong pursuit and love of the feeling he has while on a board.

"All this in the endless pursuit of a feeling that's hard to describe," said Jones in the poem. "I call it, 'The glide.''

As darkness fell, Miss Tess & the Talkbacks took to the stage and lit up the evening with the band's infusion of '50s rock, country, Americana, blues, and swing.

Singer Miss Tess cut through the chilly temperatures as the band opened their set, crooning to covers of Willie Nelson and Ted Hawkins, and jamming out to the group's hit single, "Little Lola." Guitarist Thomas Bryan Eaton threw down a blistering performance for the crowd, ripping up song after song and even throwing in a Jimi Hendrix lick for good measure.

Miss Tess and Eaton form the group with the other musicians rotating in and out depending on the band's tour. The two met roughly seven years ago in New York and have been together ever since.

"We met both actually both subbing on a gig," said Eaton. "Our friends had this Western swing band, and Tess was subbing as a vocalist and I was subbing as a guitar player."

"We met on stage and here we are," said Miss Tess.

The group will return to the area next week for two nights in Reno. Miss Tess & the Talkbacks will perform inside the Pepper Resort Spa Casino's Terrace Lounge May 4-5 from 8 p.m. to midnight. For more information visit MissTessMusic.com.

San Francisco group Otis McDonald then took the stage to close the show, playing for roughly an hour. The group is led by producer / musician Joe Bagale, who spent the set moving between playing drums and guitar. The group had Bridge Street rocking with a jazzy version of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life," during a set that showcased the band's self-described sound, "that is fresh but tangibly rooted in nostalgia."

ONWARD TO NEXT YEAR?

Plans to continue the event next year are already being formulated, according to the event organizers. The event also benefited Moody's Jazz Camp, which will run July 9-13. For more information visit MoodysJazzCamp.com.

"We're referring to it this year as the Craw Freeze. It's our Groundhog Day. If it's cold at the Craw Thaw, we've got six more weeks of winter. If it's warm, we've got less," said Woodruff.

"We're just going to continue to build on it. The town was fantastic, the police, the fire department, everyone was great."

The Craw Thaw was also given $25,000 from the Truckee Tourism Business Improvement District, according to the district's Brand Communications Director Colleen Dalton.

"For a first-year event, super successful as far as getting locals and visitors and creating a new signature event for Truckee," said Dalton. "What can we do next year to make this a bigger, more rocking event?"

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. Contact him at jscacco@truckeesun.com.