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Biography: Jackie Venson
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Austin’s got no shortage of indie blues musicians whose music sounds great from a coffeehouse stage, but it only has a few who can put together the total package of eclectic, soulful jams and a stridently powerful voice the way that Jackie Venson can. On her new single, “Next Life,” that package delivers with a slow burn that builds from a snaking rhythm to a blistering guitar solo, all while Venson’s vocals veer from cool restraint to a soaring climax This song “Next Life” was one of those magical ones that came to me in a night,” Venson says of the track. “My heart was feeling particularly sore over this crush I had, and I knew that it was at the point where I needed to sing about it. Unlike a lot of my songs these days, I wrote it on the piano, an instrument that helps me capture the darker emotions better than the guitar.” Whatever Venson had to do—and feel—in order to get the song, it was worth it. You can check out “See What You Want” below. As always, be sure to tell us what you think in the comments or on Twitter! Venson, a Berklee College of Music graduate, channels the soulful sounds of Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse in her tunes. She also has an impressive set of skills under her belt, including two years of guitar, six years of singing, seven years of songwriting and 15 years of piano. For the past year, Venson has been shaking up the Austin music scene with her two EP’s and her independently released debut album, which was released in July. She’s also been making waves with her live shows, with the American Statesman declaring her “Austin’s next great export” and gushing over her “astonishing mix of raw soul, superb musicianship and laid back grace” and her “Gary Clark Jr. level talent.” Sitting outside at Epoch Coffeehouse in North Central Austin, a spot where she used to hang out with her friends when she was a student at Westwood High School in Round Rock, musician Jackie Venson is upbeat and cheerful. Three days earlier the 24-year- old put in a mind-boggling performance at the release party for her debut full-length album “The Light in Me.” She led her band through a fantastic 90-plus minute set that ran without a lull, playing to a steamy sold-out house at East Austin hole in the wall the Skylark Lounge. With an astonishing mix of raw soul, superb musicianship and easygoing grace, she played with the poise of Austin’s next great export — a Gary Clark Jr.-level talent who speaks boldly through her guitar while entrancing with her gorgeous, smoky voice. Venson’s set at the Skylark roamed effortlessly between genres. She dabbled in jazz, soul and hip-hop, but the strongest moments were those she spent, in true Austin fashion, “paying her dues to the blues.” Her fingers flew furiously across the fretboard, her electric guitar wailing gutsy riff after gutsy riff, screaming for relief. At the coffeehouse, she makes a sheepish confession. The six-string she slays so easily? She first picked it up less than four years ago. A student of classical piano who started playing at her mother’s urging at age 8, she attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. It wasn’t a great experience. Describing the school’s cutthroat competitive environment as “‘American Idol’ the school,” Venson hated it so much she pushed herself to graduate early. Stith: Singer and guitar slinger Jackie Venson, 24, poised to take off photo Gene Chavez Jackie Venson performs at her CD release party at the Skylark Lounge last month. The 24-year-old started playing piano at age 8 but rediscovered her joy of music when she started playing blues guitar. But in January 2011, a few months before she was set to leave, she stumbled into a revelation that would change her life. The seed was planted when she was hanging out with a group of fellow students and one was playing the guitar. “I was listening to this guy play and he looked like he was having so much fun, and I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t have that much fun doing anything related to music,’” she says, laughing. Shortly after, she was back in her Boston dorm room, below-freezing temperatures outside. She was miserable. While moping around with her roommate and listening to Johnny Lang, something clicked. She sat straight up. “I was like, ‘OK, this is what I want to do, I want to play electric blues.’” Captivated by the way certain distortion settings can make the electric guitar sound like a voice, she set out to make it sing. “The guitar kind of threw a huge boulder into my river,” she says. “My whole life is totally different now.” Her rapid mastery of the instrument came from a lifetime spent learning how to be a musician. Along with the music theory she studied from her composition major at Berklee, years of piano gave her dexterity, muscle memory and hand-eye coordination. “It took me three years to put the focus in enough to where I could put my hands together on the piano,” she says, “and it took me an additional two and a half to three years after that to even want to practice for more than 45 minutes at a time, which you have to if you want to learn how to do anything.” It took three more years or so for Venson to have the focus to sit and play for three or four hours straight like a working musician. Back in Austin, she’s become just that. It’s a constant hustle. Sometimes she plays solo, using a loop pedal to create the effect of a band; other times she picks up piano bar gigs playing Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder covers to pay the bills. She does private parties and sets at clubs. She also leads her own band, a three-piece ensemble of seasoned players with serious jazz, funk and soul chops, all of whom are at least a decade her senior. Insubordination has never been an issue. “I tell them where to go. I write the checks. They’re happy,” she says. “Boss lady. That’s how my dad told me to do it. He was like, ‘Look, just do everything for them and they’ll show up and there’s no one gonna try to step in your way.’” Her father, Andrew Venson, has been a great business coach. A bass player and singer who played locally with the band Blue Mist and made some waves on the national jazz and funk scene in the ’80s with the band Seeds of Fulfillment, he spent 40 years working as a professional musician before retiring a few years ago. Things are starting to take off for the younger Venson. Earlier this year she won a Modern Southern Music competition sponsored by Belk department store. As part of her prize package, she has a string of gigs across the South opening for Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw and James Taylor. She’s also been booking short stints in Houston and San Antonio and has plans to play Atlanta before the summer’s out. She has one more gig before dipping out of town for a six-week stretch with a homecoming gig Sept. 19 at Sahara Lounge. A few years after she enviously eyed a guitarist and marveled at his free spirit, she’s developed her own approach to music that resounds with sheer joy. Odds are good her formidable talent will only rise.
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McCoy Marketing L.L.C. © 2016
Biography: Jackie Venson
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Austin’s got no shortage of indie blues musicians whose music sounds great from a coffeehouse stage, but it only has a few who can put together the total package of eclectic, soulful jams and a stridently powerful voice the way that Jackie Venson can. On her new single, “Next Life,” that package delivers with a slow burn that builds from a snaking rhythm to a blistering guitar solo, all while Venson’s vocals veer from cool restraint to a soaring climax This song “Next Life” was one of those magical ones that came to me in a night,” Venson says of the track. “My heart was feeling particularly sore over this crush I had, and I knew that it was at the point where I needed to sing about it. Unlike a lot of my songs these days, I wrote it on the piano, an instrument that helps me capture the darker emotions better than the guitar.” Whatever Venson had to do—and feel—in order to get the song, it was worth it. You can check out “See What You Want” below. As always, be sure to tell us what you think in the comments or on Twitter! Venson, a Berklee College of Music graduate, channels the soulful sounds of Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse in her tunes. She also has an impressive set of skills under her belt, including two years of guitar, six years of singing, seven years of songwriting and 15 years of piano. For the past year, Venson has been shaking up the Austin music scene with her two EP’s and her independently released debut album, which was released in July. She’s also been making waves with her live shows, with the American Statesman declaring her “Austin’s next great export” and gushing over her “astonishing mix of raw soul, superb musicianship and laid back grace” and her “Gary Clark Jr. level talent.” Sitting outside at Epoch Coffeehouse in North Central Austin, a spot where she used to hang out with her friends when she was a student at Westwood High School in Round Rock, musician Jackie Venson is upbeat and cheerful. Three days earlier the 24-year-old put in a mind-boggling performance at the release party for her debut full-length album “The Light in Me.” She led her band through a fantastic 90- plus minute set that ran without a lull, playing to a steamy sold-out house at East Austin hole in the wall the Skylark Lounge. With an astonishing mix of raw soul, superb musicianship and easygoing grace, she played with the poise of Austin’s next great export — a Gary Clark Jr.-level talent who speaks boldly through her guitar while entrancing with her gorgeous, smoky voice. Venson’s set at the Skylark roamed effortlessly between genres. She dabbled in jazz, soul and hip-hop, but the strongest moments were those she spent, in true Austin fashion, “paying her dues to the blues.” Her fingers flew furiously across the fretboard, her electric guitar wailing gutsy riff after gutsy riff, screaming for relief. At the coffeehouse, she makes a sheepish confession. The six-string she slays so easily? She first picked it up less than four years ago. A student of classical piano who started playing at her mother’s urging at age 8, she attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. It wasn’t a great experience. Describing the school’s cutthroat competitive environment as “‘American Idol’ the school,” Venson hated it so much she pushed herself to graduate early. Stith: Singer and guitar slinger Jackie Venson, 24, poised to take off photo Gene Chavez Jackie Venson performs at her CD release party at the Skylark Lounge last month. The 24-year-old started playing piano at age 8 but rediscovered her joy of music when she started playing blues guitar. But in January 2011, a few months before she was set to leave, she stumbled into a revelation that would change her life. The seed was planted when she was hanging out with a group of fellow students and one was playing the guitar. “I was listening to this guy play and he looked like he was having so much fun, and I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t have that much fun doing anything related to music,’” she says, laughing. Shortly after, she was back in her Boston dorm room, below-freezing temperatures outside. She was miserable. While moping around with her roommate and listening to Johnny Lang, something clicked. She sat straight up. “I was like, ‘OK, this is what I want to do, I want to play electric blues.’” Captivated by the way certain distortion settings can make the electric guitar sound like a voice, she set out to make it sing. “The guitar kind of threw a huge boulder into my river,” she says. “My whole life is totally different now.” Her rapid mastery of the instrument came from a lifetime spent learning how to be a musician. Along with the music theory she studied from her composition major at Berklee, years of piano gave her dexterity, muscle memory and hand-eye coordination. “It took me three years to put the focus in enough to where I could put my hands together on the piano,” she says, “and it took me an additional two and a half to three years after that to even want to practice for more than 45 minutes at a time, which you have to if you want to learn how to do anything.” It took three more years or so for Venson to have the focus to sit and play for three or four hours straight like a working musician. Back in Austin, she’s become just that. It’s a constant hustle. Sometimes she plays solo, using a loop pedal to create the effect of a band; other times she picks up piano bar gigs playing Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder covers to pay the bills. She does private parties and sets at clubs. She also leads her own band, a three-piece ensemble of seasoned players with serious jazz, funk and soul chops, all of whom are at least a decade her senior. Insubordination has never been an issue. “I tell them where to go. I write the checks. They’re happy,” she says. “Boss lady. That’s how my dad told me to do it. He was like, ‘Look, just do everything for them and they’ll show up and there’s no one gonna try to step in your way.’” Her father, Andrew Venson, has been a great business coach. A bass player and singer who played locally with the band Blue Mist and made some waves on the national jazz and funk scene in the ’80s with the band Seeds of Fulfillment, he spent 40 years working as a professional musician before retiring a few years ago. Things are starting to take off for the younger Venson. Earlier this year she won a Modern Southern Music competition sponsored by Belk department store. As part of her prize package, she has a string of gigs across the South opening for Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw and James Taylor. She’s also been booking short stints in Houston and San Antonio and has plans to play Atlanta before the summer’s out. She has one more gig before dipping out of town for a six-week stretch with a homecoming gig Sept. 19 at Sahara Lounge. A few years after she enviously eyed a guitarist and marveled at his free spirit, she’s developed her own approach to music that resounds with sheer joy. Odds are good her formidable talent will only rise.
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