With a nod to women in music, and good old Rock and Roll, The Portland Playlist was thrilled to have Teresa Topaz, named “Guitar Goddess” by the Portland Tribune, in the studio Wednesday night. Teresa is a Portland based Rock artist, Composer, and Record Producer who has an appreciation for every genre and style of music and has the ability to put it all together in a unique, ever-changing combination. Her powerful vocal range meshes with a bluesy country grit that at times is deep and smokey while at others, it’s as soft and high as birdsong.
Teresa is grateful to have been born into a music loving family. From her father, she grew up listening to the old standards; Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and the like. Her mother gave her the rock tunes; Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Dylan, etc. She began singing at age 6, joined the school choir and theater, then picked up the guitar at 12. At 16, she acquired her Martin, affectionately called, “My Boyfriend,” that she uses to this day.
The first hour was spent listening to Teresa’s influences which spanned her childhood to adulthood. The first album she ever bought with her own money was Guns N’ Roses’, “Appetite for Destruction.” Her favorite song on the album is “Sweet Child of Mine.” This song reminds her of her childhood, spending time in her Mom’s art room off the Sunset Strip. Being entirely self-taught, she would use Slash’s leads for her vocal warm-ups. She had two Bob Dylan songs, “Highway 61” and “Man Gave Names to All the Animals.” Her Mom took her to concerts as a young child, and they have a shared love for Dylan’s music which has taken them in and out of the state to see him. Elton John’s, “Tiny Dancer” is one of the first songs she ever remembers hearing. She admires him for the emotions he conveys with his instrumentation, his timeless lyrics, not to mention his colorful stage presence. Other influences included, Pearl Jam, Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Tina Turner. Turner is one she admires for her guttural soul, and as a woman to look up to for her resilient nature, for never giving up on herself, and forging into unknown territory as a female solo artist.
In the Spring of 2014, Teresa’s luthier, Ed Van Waes, introduced her to Engineer and Producer Tim Biedron. Theirs was an instant connection, and what was initially a demo project turned into a full length LP, “Reset Me.” Released in 2015, it was a year and a half in the making, and has been making an impression with its roots in Rock ‘n Roll, Blues, Southern Rock, and hints of Electronic elements. It quickly broke into the top five in Rock on Reverbnation. The title track, is playing on several radio stations on the East and West coasts. “Driving Me Crazy,” another popular single off the album, was featured at the Trail Blazers half time show at the Moda center in March. Inconceivably, she composed and performed all the vocals, backing vocals, drums, rhythm and lead guitars; everything but the bass which was courtesy of Mr. Keith Waters. She also co-produced the album with Tim.
The second hour moved on to songs off the new album, as well as three performed live, “Fire,” “My Own Drum,” and “Rattle Me.” Teresa sings with a passion that clearly comes through in her music. While she has a band she performs with whenever possible, (they are based in California), most of her shows since moving to Portland are solo. Like her influence Tina Turner, Teresa is forging uncharted territory as a solo female performer, in the Rock ‘n Roll world, no less. When she first enters a venue, she is usually mistaken for an acoustic performer and therefore, may not be given the time slot she desired, or the respect due her. But once she sets up all the gear, brings out that electric guitar and dives into those rock notes, belting out the first tune, heads turn and give her the attention she deserves!
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