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Tess Dunn To Play Residency At Streetlight Records

In Music
No Pity Parties: Local pop-punk rocker Tess Dunn is infectiously optimistic, despite her challenges.

No Pity Parties: Local pop-punk rocker Tess Dunn is infectiously optimistic, despite her challenges.

At 20 years old, Tess Dunn has already got three alt-rock albums under her belt, is taking a full class load, and continues to fight a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis (CF), diabetes, and epilepsy. She’s so damn admirable that I found myself hoping she had some deep, dark secret to unearth.

No dice. Calling me from the parking lot of the Stanford Medical Center, Dunn quickly broke down all conventional interview barriers and showed that she is, indeed, the inspiring, no-nonsense go-getter so many past articles about her have glowingly heralded. But what isn’t often explored are the many layers of the person who has become a champion for her diseases. Guess what, she also gets lazy and doesn’t get out of her car when it’s too cold outside (hurrah!). And despite her incredibly positive attitude, of course the illnesses do weigh on her sometimes.

“Sometimes it does get tiring,” says Dunn, who recently released her latest EP and is slated to play an in-store performance at Streetlight Records in San Jose this Saturday. “It is a lot to handle, having these three illnesses, but my only options are to either sit around and wonder ‘why me?’ and throw pity-parties—or I can use this to empower me and push me to do great things.”

Dunn is so full of fight that it’s impossible to not get swept up in her energy. It takes tenacity to take a small boat-load of pills at every meal, wear a respiratory therapy vest for a few hours a day, breathe in three nebulizers, and then add some other fun IVs and hospital visits every so often—all before driving over Hwy. 17 from San Jose to band practice and heading back the same night to make it to class at Ex’Pression College.

“Go-getter” is a good description for Dunn, but she has enough sarcasm and mirth to jab back at anyone who mistakes her for the giddy cheerleader type.

This past June, Dunn released her third album, the Daydreamers EP. She began writing songs at age 1, has played at six Vans Warped Tour shows, recorded with award-winning artists and producers, and performed all over California. Making music for almost half her life, Dunn says her song-writing and artistry has developed greatly in a short time.

“I look back through the albums, and my perspective on things has changed so much. I feel like I’ve grown up a bit,” she says. “I’m really proud of where I am, and Daydreamers is a perfect representation of that.”

Tess Dunn will play three Saturdays at Streetlight Records in San Jose: Jan. 31, Feb. 7 and Feb. 21. More info.

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