Attending KT Tunstall’s recent performance at Tally Ho Theater in historic Leesburg — a genuine treat, indeed — was the culmination of my three-year quest to photograph the artist in a live performance. The show was magnificent; well worth the three years I waited to see it.
KT Tunstall is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and multi-platinum recording artist, but I only learned of her in 2019 after seeing a YouTube video of her masterful cover of Bob Dylan’s, “Tangled Up in Blue. I was instantly enthralled with her husky resonant voice which gave the song a whole new dimension. Simply put, it was sexy. I immediately began researching her tour schedule to see when she might be playing next in the DC area.
Watch KT Tunstall perform “Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan on YouTube:
Sadly, I discovered I missed a chance by a mere two weeks to see her play in DC, and she was about to embark on a lengthy European tour for the balance of 2019. Her 2020 tour was nixed due to the global pandemic and her 2021 summer tour opening for Hall and Oats unfortunately ended early due to health reason. I finally got my chance to see KT live at the Tally Ho with two weeks remaining in 2021.
Though typically backed by a four-piece band, KT is playing this tour as a solo act due to COVID precautions. However, through her skilled use of a loop pedal system and drum machine, her performance suffered no lack of dimension. Watching her put a song together with the loop pedal is like watching a busker on steroids.
The basic anatomy of a KT Tunstall song begins with her laying down the beat on the body of her guitar. She then adds some additional rhythm with a combination of hand clapping, a few hits of the tambourine, and maybe some egg shaker for flavor. She adds in some background guitar chords and maybe one or two loops of background vocals, mixes it all together on the loop pedal and then and then she’s ready to apply the lead vocals and guitar. Its pretty amazing to watch in person.
KT made a special announcement during the Tally Ho performance. She has been chosen to headline the musical lineup for Times Square New Year’s Eve. She’ll be performing “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See,” Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” and John Lennon’s “Imagine” Just Before midnight. You can watch KT’s performance on the ABC network broadcast or stream from TimesSquareNYC.org.
KT re-released her 2007 sophomore album, Drastic Fantastic, earlier this year as a special two-disc “Ultimate Edition,” packed on with bonus live tracks and commentary.
Stream Drastic Fantastic (Ultimate Edition) by KT Tunstall on Spotify:
Enjoy some additional photos from KT Tunstall’s Dec. 18, 2021 performance at Tally Ho Theater in Leesburg, VA. All photos copyright and courtesy of Ari Strauss.