Eric Tessmer’s Birthday at Mohawk Recap

After spending the past few months touring the country in support of his latest self-titled EP, Eric Tessmer returned to Austin Saturday night to celebrate his birthday at Mohawk. The Texas heat didn’t keep a few hundred of Tessmer’s closest friends from enduring a face melting display of guitar swinging acrobatics from the 2017 Black Fret nominee.

Soulful, alternative rockers, The Selfless Lovers, were the first to wish Tessmer a happy birthday as the local three-piece rocked their debut set on Mohawk’s ‘big boy’ stage. Vibrant frontman, pianist and lead vocalist, Nik Parr, kicked-off the evening’s celebration with an easy going, key-driven melody that walloped into a funky 9-minute freestyle jam session. Parr showed off his multi-instrumentalist range by swapping back-and-forth from keys to saxophone throughout the performance while guitarist Daniel Kerner and drummer Daniel Warner painted the soundscape with blends of funk (‘Slave to The Dollar’) and upbeat alternative rock (‘Glad To Be Here’) along with pleasant hints of soul and R&B.

Next up was 2016 Black Fret alums and my new favorite band, Swimming With Bears. This nu-soul, alternative rock foursome has been around the Austin scene since 2012 and have even opened for greats likes Weezer and Panic! At The Disco. Oddly enough, Saturday was my first time catching Swimming With Bears live and damned if I wasn’t blown away. Lead vocalist and bassist, Joe Perry’s resonating, tenor pitched vocals were an intoxicating surprise as he belted through EP heavyweights ‘Shiver and Crawl’ and ‘Without a Plan’. Swimming With Bears is a truly cohesive band that gels on all levels as lead guitarist Alec Conte and rhythm guitarist Jon Kerr swing in and out to provide vocal support behind Perry’s soothing howls. Their stage chemistry is smooth and harmonious and it’s evident these guys have spent countless hours together creating music with a purpose.

Shortly after 11:15 a central Texas cyclone ripped through the Mohawk as the man of the hour, Eric Tessmer, hit the stage unleashing a whirlwind of electric psychedelic licks from his brand new pearly Stratocaster. Draped in his customary blue jeans and a greaser Mickey Mouse three quarter sleeve straight out of Two-Bit Mathews’ closet, the rocking bluesman is one cool mother fucker up on stage. Think James Dean meets classic Marlon Brando with a little Billy Gibbons grit. An abstract thought, sure, but it makes for one badass blues-rock guitarist that can seduce a crowd for hours with a wicked fast repertoire. Tessmer was three songs and nearly fifteen minutes deep before he decided to check in with the crowd. All’s well from the packed venue as the crowd pulled their jaws from the floor to roar back towards the stage. A powerful three-minute solo on the tail end of ‘Buttons & Thread’ echoed into bluesy ‘See You Tonight’ before Tessmer completely cut loose with ‘Ms. Fortune Teller’.

It’s during his live performances where Tessmer can really dig into the depth of his uncanny musicianship by squeezing every infectious ounce of enjoyment from each track through intense, blistering solos. In Tessmer’s words, “The band has to kick the shit out of the studio record when they play it live.” No doubt about it, Tessmer did just that and more Saturday at Mohawk and it made for one spectacular birthday performance.

Images below by Corey Mendez

Swimming With Bears


Eric Tessmer



Photo Credit: Corey Mendez

Black Fret: The Peterson Bros., Eric Tessmer, Jane Ellen Bryant

Black Fret flooded the banks of Onion Creek Saturday evening pouring muddy, rock-filled blues from the historic home of Austin’s Music and Entertainment Manager, Don Pitts. Iconic Shady Grove was on hand serving partygoers Tex-Mex pork and chicken tacos while Ben E. Keith kept the Alaskan Whites, Moscow Mules and Merlots flowing from the bar.

Teenage blues phenoms and 2016 Black Fret nominees, The Peterson Brothers, set the party off and got the crowd rocking early with ‘Don’t You Lie to Me.’ The Bastrop boys, Glenn (Guitar & Lead Vocals) and Alex (Bass) Peterson, have an infectious on-stage chemistry and infuse the blues with a lively, outgoing energy that shoots through the crowd. “They deliver more smiles per measure than any band in Austin” as they sway back-and-forth in unison, play to the crowd and even hop off stage to play through the crowd. The brothers paused a 30 second freeze-frame before soloing right into crowd favorite, ‘I Gotta Go’ then delivered a bluesy, central Texas version of The Spinners’ classic, ‘I’ll Be Around’. Alex Peterson cooled the crowd of the late July heat with a chilling, fiddled rendition of ‘Amazing Grace.’ The Peterson Brothers’ set was so captivating even the residents of Onion Creek took to the skies with a couple of ‘V’ flyovers to capture a birds-eye of these funky blues brothers.


Black Fret founders, Matt Ott and Colin Kendrick filled the break between sets with interesting news and updates regarding the organization and its artists. In Ott’s words, “I’m really good at killing time up here” However, when it comes to Black Fret, that statement couldn’t be any further from the truth. Over the past two years the organization has raised more than $280,000 and helped local musicians schedule 198 national tour dates. Black Fret artists have also contributed to 44 fundraisers for other local organizations and charities. Oddly enough, the next musician that took the stage was not a grant nominee…not yet at least.

A breeze finally blew through the blanketing humidity when Austin’s own guitar prodigy, Eric Tessmer, unleashed a cyclone of lightning fast riffs from his personalized “Tessmer” Fender. The vibrant blues-rocker electrified the crowd with an intense, solo-filled performance packed with several new tracks from his upcoming EP; check out the release party, Friday 7/29 at Antone’s. Tessmer opened his set with howling vocals on ‘See You Tonight’ and nearly caused the amps to short-circuit with a wicked solo midway through blues-groovy ‘Ms. Fortune Teller’. He plucked flute-like squeals from his Stratocaster and laid down powerful, string yanking licks reminiscent of…dare I say…Stevie. Tessmer paid homage to another guitar legend with a sweet cover of Jimi’s ‘Are You Experienced’ and closed the set with a brand new track and a rapid-fire drum solo.
“The depth of talent in this town is amazing,” proclaimed Ott. And after witnessing Tessmer’s high-octane performance, this assertion, I believe, is an understatement made even more evident when talented newcomer Jane Ellen Bryant closed the evening with a 3-song set that included hot new single ‘Twenties.’ Bryant is a rare singer whose singing capacity, somehow, someway, stretches further during her live performance. However, that’s an opinion I dare not voice with Bryant’s super-producer, Frenchie Smith, standing a mere few feet away. There’s no denying her vocal range is utterly mesmerizing on the assumed harmoniously tame ‘Want it With You.’ The Austin songstress took the crowd home on a “high-note” with a vocal rich cover of Prince’s ‘Kiss’.

Black Fret continues to host listening sessions showcasing the best of local talent. The depth of that local talent, in my opinion, is fan-friggin-tabulous.


Written by: Douglas Leach (

Photos courtesy of: Becca Kadison and Black Fret