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National Blues Act

Susan Tedeschi

An up-and-comer comes into her own

Susan Tedeschi Boston's Susan Tedeschi didn't win her Grammy category, Best New Female Artist, but she did score one of the broadcast's biggest coups. Though album titles and snapshots were flashed on screen when all the night's other nominations were read from the podium, Tedeschi swapped her photo for an in-concert mini-movie. So millions of television viewers got a taste of her hard-to-the-bone performing style -- a few seconds of guitar-string bending and pure blues belting. It was enough to send even more people to record stores to purchase her debut CD Just Won't Burn, on the locally based Tone-Cool label.

Consider her strong West Coast following (she's sold out both the Los Angeles House of Blues and San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium), especially among the gay community, and her nomination seems less surprising. Here in Boston, we've watched her slowly rise through the local clubs over the past 10 years. Tedeschi graduated from blues jams to sharing the stage in a group with harp ace Annie Raines and guitarist Adrian Hayes when all three were cutting their teeth as musicians. Then, as the sole pillar of her own band, Tedeschi worked her way up to the regional festival circuit and a deal with Tone-Cool. It took a year for the CD to catch fire, but ever since, Tedeschi's ascent has been unstoppable.

Those who've heard Just Won't Burn realize that Tedeschi's best work still lies ahead. Her next album, now in the works, will focus more on her own songwriting and recently attained guitar prowess. And to judge on the sweaty charisma of her live shows, it will burn.

-- Ted Drozdowski

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