When Agent Tammy Preston from ‘Twin Peaks’ was a slinky Austin lounge singer

For the past few weeks, “Twin Peaks” fans have been parsing the meaning of slot machines, coffee cups and the Log Lady’s prophecy in the Showtime reboot of David Lynch’s cult TV classic. But Austin music fans of a certain age might be wondering why Agent Tammy Preston looks so familiar.

Chrysta Bell, the actress who plays the series’ most stylish fed, is a San Antonio native who spent her post-high school years in Austin where she did a stint fronting the gypsy jazz band 81/2 Souvenirs. The band, led by Olivier Giraud and Glover Gill, had a residency at the Continental Club and each week they added another dimension to the idea of “Continental,” transforming the South Austin spot into a Parisian hideaway, circa 1935.

Bell was one of three female vocalists who did a turn in the band.

» RELATED: Kyle MacLachlan, pastries and ‘damn fine’ coffee at the ‘Twin Peaks’ SXSW party

In 1999, she was discovered by Lynch who was quite taken by her. She became a muse to the director, who collaborated with her on a series of musical projects. “The first time I saw her perform, I thought she was like an alien. The most beautiful alien ever,” Lynch said of Bell.

She talks about their relationship and its impact on her music in a new feature in Interview magazine.

And the good news for Austin music fans who want to experience that Parisian cafe vibe? The original 8 1/2 Souvenirs lineup with vocalist Kathy Kiser Benayoun is back together. They play a happy hour set that kicks off at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at C-Boys Heart and Soul. 

photo: Larry Koolvord/AA-S 1997 Chrysta Bell of 8 1/2 Souvenirs

 

 

 

 

 

 

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