Tornado Bait
Gig Seeker Pro

Tornado Bait

Hampton, VA | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Hampton, VA | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Americana Art Rock



The best kept secret in music



Hampton. Americana. | Full Length

This record has been a long time coming and it was absolutely worth the wait. Tornado Bait is a musical carnival. The Americana expression of Parliament Funkadelic. A rockabillied-out evocation of the B52s. The sass of the Cramps filtered through bluegrass-grunge ascetics.

The title track is raucous and freewheeling joy. "Woah to Fun" recalls the finer points of alt-country Detroiters, Blanche. "No Room in the Coffin" could be a straight out punk rocker if it wanted to. There's not an ounce of fat on this entire record.

Front-woman Msesippi McQuown Henry matches a hard won eccentricity with a harder-lived no nonsense take-no-prisoners approach to songwriting. Throw in a motley crew of eclectic, top notch musicians and you've got a recipe for one of the most original bands in the area.

Support this music now. There might never be another band like this.

You'll like this if: You want your favorite band ready to rumble. You're three shots in to a bottle of Jamesons and ready to pour your heart out. - Jeff Hewitt, The Antonym

"Tornado Bait has a new CD and an all-inclusive stage show"

hen Tornado Bait takes the stage, audience members are given a simple choice — you can watch, or you can participate.

Every show brings out the Trunk of Funk, which is filled with small wooden figurines called “limberjacks” — which can be used as improvised percussive instruments — and paper bag masks.


inRead invented by Teads
“When you’ve got a bag on your head,” singer-songwriter Msessipi McQuown said, “you can better communicate with your limberjack and with your human consciousness. We want people to join in the band and play an instrument and get out of control. We want them to stop being themselves for a little while.”

The band releases its first CD, “Teacup’s Half Full,” this weekend with a show Saturday night at the Breakthrough Anger Room in Hampton. McQuown’s raspy vocals ride over a mix of punk and the country and bluegrass she heard while living in southern Ohio for more than a decade. She came of age in the Norfolk punk scene, shaving her head and playing bass in a touring band. She likes to call the Tornado Bait sound “grunge-grass.” She grew up in Virginia Beach — “a Navy brat and stereotypical pain-in-the-butt teen,” she says — and was drawn to punk as much by the attitudes it projected as by the music itself. She still tries to reflect that attitude, defiant autonomy and unflinching honesty. The songs on “Teacup’s Half Full” are inspired by her second divorce, and while there are a few angry lyrics, there is much more good humor and optimism. “I write what I think and I write what happens to me,” McQuown said. “I write about my baggage, but I don’t want to hurt anybody or lambaste anybody. Sometimes it’s so close to home that I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I still want it to be witty.” To record and play with her, she recruited a diverse group of musicians including drummer Jeff Liscombe, who generally plays hard rock but on this CD spent some of his time beating out rockabilly rhythms on a suitcase. Matt Lodica Thomas, who fronts his own genre-defying band Uglyography, plays guitar and melodica and produced the CD. “You never know what she’s going to do, because she’s got a unique perspective on life,” Thomas said. “We have a lot of fun at our shows — just a cluttered mess of a stage — but it’s visually interesting and it gets people to let loose and dance around.” The Hampton band Tornado Bait is preparing to release its new CD "Teacup's Half Full." When Tornado Bait played “The Hampton Roads Show” on WAVY-TV this month, co-host Chris Reckling donned a paper bag mask, grabbed a tambourine and joined the band. McQuown, a 38-year-old Phoebus resident, has a degree in fine art from Shawnee State University in Ohio, with a concentration on photography. She gushes with pride that her mother roots around thrift stores looking for toys to fill the Trunk of Funk. McQuown’s visual sensibilities shape Tornado Bait’s image as much as her songwriting does — the band has a Steampunk aesthetic and frequently wears themed costumes on stage. “I’m very malleable,” she says. “If I’m playing a kids’ show, I know how to act, and I also know what to do for a Taphouse show in Norfolk.”
She chose the Breakthrough Anger Room for the band’s release party in part because she is friends with the owner, but also because she likes the concept. Anyone who buys a CD at the show will be entered in a raffle to join the band in destroying a roomful of teacups afterward. “Positive destruction,” she calls it. McQuown refers to her stage persona as “my character,” but she is just as quick to say the character is not all that much different than who she is off stage.
“I guess they’re both the same person, but on stage you let go of the idea that you’re supposed to act a certain way in public,” McQuown said. “We want a child, or an adult, to feel comfortable coming up and taking a tambourine. We just want it to be fun.” Want to go?
What: Tornado Bait release party for the CD “Teacup’s Half Full.”
When: 4 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Breakthrough Anger Room, 52 W. Mercury Blvd., Hampton.
Admission: Free. CDs available for $10; 757-722-7800,

Mike Holtzclaw, 757-928-6479,, Twitter @mikeholtzclaw. - The Daily Press

"Local Music with Tornado Bait"

HAMPTON, Va - Tornado Bait ( brings their ‘grunge grass’ musical experience to our studio as they get ready to kick off the the Hampton History Museum’s Front Porch Music Series.

The Hampton History Museum is located at 120 Old Hampton Lane in Downtown Hampton. There is free parking in the garage across the street from the museum. For more information call (757)727-1102 or visit - WTKR Channel 3

"Live Music Friday Tornado Bait"

It's great to welcome Tornado Bait to The Hampton Roads Show for their Live Music Friday debut.

You can see them perform live at their CD Release Party Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Breakthough Anger Room in Hampton. - Hampton Roads Show

"In the Audience: Hampton History Museum and "Tornado Bait""

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - You can get Christmas Carols just about anywhere this time of year, but if you're looking to break from tradition, the Hampton History Museum may be throwing the party for you!

Christmas Spectacular Variety Show
Featuring Music by Tornado Bait
Wednesday - 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Hampton History Museum
120 Old Hampton Lane
Members are free. Non-members are $5
For more information, call (757) 727-1102 or visit Hampton History - Hampton Roads Show


Hampton's Tornado Bait joined up with sometimes partner in crime -- bassist/songwriter Unk Al for a set that rocked a new standard atop a long list of eclectic past performances. While this group has generally tread a path that could be called Grunge-grass or Alt-Country, the addition of Al's infectious groove plunged the group into bold new ground best described as Rockabilly meets Parliament Funkadelic. Topping it off with ten members ranging in ages from what looked like six years old to some in their mid 50s, the band showed up dressed to slay with a range of outlandish attire running the gamut from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to some sort of twisted Grimm's Faerie Tale. Johnson joining them like a hard-charging Blues Brother at the end was icing on the cake.

Sadly, the most visually engaging group I've seen at the NorVa since GWAR was marred by poor lighting choices. I'm not sure why you'd light a band that had this much eye candy happening as though they were Echo & the Bunnymen, but the high reds and overall dim output of the venue's potentially potent rig failed to properly showcase the party happening on stage.

Regardless of those concerns (which, I'm guessing, were completely beyond the group's control) the end result was a riotous half hour that had the crowd shaking booty, fists pumping high in the air. This was hands down the best set I've seen this year, and I don't say that lightly.

If you spy either Tornado Bait or Unk Al separately on a marquee, I urge you to pony up. But if you see them together? You're a fool if you don't. In the past I've maybe held some reservations about what a full-length Tornado Bait record might sound like. Let's be real, my readers are well aware that anything even remotely connected to country isn't really my jam, but if the singular creative genius that is front-woman Msesippi Mcquown Henry finds a way to translate into a recording what her and her fellows pulled off this night?

I'll be first in line with a wad of cash, ready to wear out my record player spinning these magical tunes. - Jeff Hewitt, The Antonym


ometimes you don't particularly care for a genre and still find yourself in love with a band. My distaste for all things Country music made by anyone not named Johnny or Willie is well documented at this point. And yet, despite myself -- I find it easy to adore Tornado Bait.

It probably helps that they aren't exactly Country. Msesippi McQuown Henry's project is one of those bands that's hard to characterize, exactly. Alt-Country? Punk-Folk? Heavy-Americana? She defies labels. This is a band you go to see in one of those seedy roadside brawl bars off Route 66. You know the type of dive I'm talking about. The one with the chicken fences keeping the musicians safe from flying bottles of Miller High Life. Where the bouncer is named Alligator Joe or Bill the Boxer or just "Lefty." He's got a Marine Corp tatt on his massive fore arms. Wears a wife beater and an expression halfway between a grin and a snarl.

Msesippi is something of a character, the kind of front woman where you really can't tell how much is persona and how much is actually her. Her band is delightfully loose and freewheeling. After a bit I realized that I had seen the fella with the banjo before - Mike Sullivan, formerly of Generation Jones, a good man with whom I've jammed with once or thrice. There's a whole thing that involves wearing paper bags on your head or playing with her army of wooden puppets that didn't really fly this night -- but I can see how it might in certain environments. She offers random opportunities for anyone who wants to join in to play with the band. If you don't watch it, you just might find yourself joining her coterie for good. Hell, catching this show in the right venue might win you a morning in bed with a massive fucking hangover and a girl named.. Um.. What the hell is her name, anyways? You know she told you last night before the Bronco Buster and the six.. Seven? Straight shots of well whiskey with whatever it was you were using as chaser?

How to translate all this to whether the music is for you? If you're a fan of Hank Williams III? If you dig Johnny? If you croon your self to sleep with the dulcet tones of the Reverend Horton Heat ? You'll probably be right at home here.

. . .

Brook Pridemore was a revelation. A solo act on acoustic guitar piped through distortion pedals and other freaky weird effects contraptions. "I don't have the time to be ironic." He declared. His music is a celebration of the subversive act of optimism. I hadn't heard him before tonight, and if I had to describe what he's doing it'd probably land somewhere around a Pop Punk Acoustic sort of thing. Suffice it to say, if you have the chance to see the man live, I highly recommend it. This is art that makes you feel good without being manipulative. I picked up his LP and plan to spend some time with it.

. . .

The evening was closed out with a staple of the Norfolk scene -- The Janks. This is a group that never fails to bring a smile to my face. Ronnie Talman's project serves up heaping slabs of Orleans flavored jazz with a contemporary twist. A good time was had by all -- it's always a good sign when a band has the ladies dancing up front. If you have somehow managed to miss them, it's an error of the highest order that you should rectify at the next available opportunity. - Jeff Hewitt

"Tornado Bait brings fresh & fun sounds to several Hampton fall events"

Tornado Bait is a Phoebus band that plays its own brand of "grunge grass" music, a blending of rock, alt-country, often with recycled materials and audience participation. Meet Msesippi McQuowan and Donna Gray and hear their original music. Join them at the Hampton History Museum Oct. 18 and Bluebird Gap Farm Fall Festival Oct. 28. - Round Robin / City of Hampton

"Bully for Hampton"

Experience the work of artists and craftspeople whose attire, weaponry, and gadgets conjure up a time when airships were commonplace and steam power ruled the world; an alternative Victorian era and an imagined Wild West frontier as presented in “Steampunk: Visions of Futures Past” at the Hampton History Museum during Blackbeard Festival Weekend, with an opening event on Friday, June 2, and exhibit Saturday, June 3 & Sunday, June 4, 2017.
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that focuses on a romanticized notion of futurism, typically taking place either during the Victorian era (1851-1901) or maintaining similar fashion and aesthetic of the era but set in an alternate time, place, or even world. Machinery abounds and one’s imagination is fueled by fantastic steam engines and limitless possibilities. For the 5th incarnation of this popular event and exhibit, artists and entertainers are emphasizing the frontier style and sensibilities of the American West.
On Friday, June 2, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., celebrate the opening of this fantastical exposition with the “Grunge Grass” music of alt-country band Tornado Bait and the steampunk bluegrass sound of the Magic Holler Boys, thrill to the feats of strength and daring-do of PM Richard Knowles and enjoy other side-show amusements, as well as the steampunk-western themed dance performance by Aela Badiana and Wicked Hips.
Aela Badiana.
Event admission is $5.00. Beer and wine will be available for purchase from La Bodega Hampton. Museum doors open at 5:30 pm. Event begins at 6:00 p.m. This is not a seated event. Capacity is limited.
Throughout the weekend, be dazzled by the work of a variety of Steampunk artists highlighted by the inventions and vehicles of award-winning artisan David Lee of Hatton Cross Steampunk; a steampunk TARDIS and R2D2 by Alexander the Grand (Alexander Phillip Baker) creator and leader of the Steampunk Alliance of Eastern Virginia, as well as other creators of fanciful contraptions, conveyances and devices. A Steampunked Life will be purveying their original jewelry, handbags, watches, accessories and other retro-futurist accoutrements.
In addition to the display of marvels and Steampunk creations to peruse and purchase, on Saturday there will be live music from the School Board Quartet and their barbershop quartet stylings of contemporary pop hits and other unexpected songs, and the indie acoustic folk of Gypsea Horselords.
Spectators can involve themselves in the competitive spirit of Splendid Teapot Racing. Splendid Teapot Racing involves radio-controlled teapots negotiating an obstacle course within a set time.
Visitors can also watch and join in demonstrations of Tephra and other role-playing games created by Charlie Stayton developer for Cracked Monocle Gaming, as well as try their hand at the strategy game Karo.
Also planned are reading of steampunk literature by authors including Travis Sivart, JM Lee, Charlie Stayton, David Lee and others.
Weekend hours are Saturday, June 3, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, June 4, 1:00 p.m. –5:00 p.m. Admission to the museum and steampunk display are free and open to the public.

The Hampton History Museum and Steampunk exhibit are open free of charge during Blackbeard Festival Weekend, Saturday, June 3, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, June 4, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. A daily schedule of weekend activities will be posted on - ALT

"The "Art of Burning Man"" - Pilot On Line

"Steampunk event is right at home in Hampton with the Blackbeard Pirate Festival"

Steampunk: Visions of Futures Past will again be part of the Blackbeard Pirate Festival this year. If that leaves you wondering either “Steam-what?” or “Who would win in a battle between a Steampunk gang and a pirate crew?” read on. Steampunk culture combines a fascination with the Victorian era, a love of rebellion and a curiosity about history to produce cool costumes, retro-modern art and contraptions, and alt-history literature. David Lee of Gloucester is a leader in the Hampton Roads steampunk scene and has earned national recognition and awards for his art, costumes, vehicles and writing. Just last month, he officiated a steampunk wedding at the Steampunk World’s Fair in Piscataway, N.J. It drew about 6,000 people and is the largest steampunk gathering on the East Coast . The Hampton festival, he said, is “the best two-for-one deal you can find in the area. When you get too hot and sweaty from the pirate festival you can come to the Hampton Museum and get some AC and enjoy the steampunk exhibits.” What you’ll see there are costumes, artwork and devices that combine a Victorian-era look with the wild West, futuristic gear, and, because it’s in Hampton Roads, airship pirates and the Civil War. A scavenger hunt will send folks searching through the museum for items related to local history. The twist is that people will be asked to write an alt-history story about the items. For example, Lee said, what if someone used a steampunk airship during the Civil War to transport slaves to Hampton, where they would be protected by Union troops? The best stories will be published in a book, which will be sold to benefit the museum. A party tonight from 6 to 9 will include music, sideshow amusements like feats of strength, and a steampunk-Western themed dance performance by Aela Badiana and Wicked Hips. On Saturday and Sunday, the museum will feature steampunk art, including works by Lee and Alexander Phillip Baker, the head of the Steampunk Alliance of Eastern Virginia. Original jewelry, handbags, watches, accessories and other retro-futurist accoutrements will be sold. Visitors can take in live music; Splendid Teapot Racing, with radio-controlled teapots negotiating an obstacle course; role-playing games; and readings by steampunk authors. Lee got hooked on steampunk about eight years ago, when he was organizing a belly-dancing event (his wife was a performer) and the production company was encouraging people to come in their finest steampunk regalia. He found that he loved the Victorian aesthetic. “I love the way people dressed. All these facades and grandeur and manners and whatnot, but underneath there was a gritty layer.”

It was something fun that the family could do together, including his daughter who was then 12 or 13 years old. Rewriting history also is satisfying. So many rules of the era restricted what people could do based on their race, gender and class. The “punk” part of steampunk loosens the restrictions and rewrites history. As for steampunks vs. pirates, Lee said it’s kind of a no-brainer. Steampunk pirates would be able to fly over the regular pirate ships, and their weapons would be more powerful. “It would be hard to fathom anybody being able to handle all that.”
Dan Duke, 757-446-2545, - The Virginian Pilot

"Events Calender"

Harvest Fest got moved to North Suffolk Library due to rain but that didn’t put a damper on the fun! Pictured above is the Tornado Bait Band performing at Harvest Fest with hands-on musical opportunities for kids. - Suffolk Library

"Front Porch Music Series: Tornado Bait"

Tornado Bait

Wednesday, October 18, 6-8 pm

Museum members free, non-members $5

It’s possible you could simplify Tornado Bait as Alt-Country however, they’re a storm brewing of influences from Midwest Country to East Coast Rock N Roll. Call it “Grunge Grass” if you will. A female fronted band with a lineup that can't be tamed. Playing covers from the 1950s to present with a mix of originals. From the beach, to your momma’s, the woods and the stage…Tornado Bait is ready to rain down acoustic thunder or full electric lightning

Tornado Bait are: Msesippi - Vocals, Guitar, Suitcase, Washboard; Zack Hammered - Mandolin; Jeff Liscombe - Drums; Matt Lodica Thomas - Melodica; Beth Fire Swan - Limber Jack; Julie Wilson - Washboard and Seamstress; Unk Al - Bass; and Billy England- Bass - Downtown Hampton


CD RELEASE - JANUARY 26th, 2019 / Album - Teacup's Half Full



It’s possible you could simplify Tornado Bait as Alt-Country however, they’re a storm brewing of influences from Midwest Country to East Coast Rock N Roll. Call it “Grunge Grass” if you will. A female fronted band with a lineup that can't be tamed. Playing covers from the 1950s to present with a mix of originals. From the beach, to your momma’s, the woods and the stage…Tornado Bait is ready to reign down acoustic thunder or full electric lightning.

We Sing Songs about Alligators, Jesus & Womern!

Band Members