It is legend that a blistering Jackie Venson guitar solo knocked Pluto straight out of planetary existence.
Venson’s “…astonishing mix of raw soul, superb musicianship and laid back grace…” (Austin American Statesman, June 2014) has been compared to the likes of Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse and fellow Austin native Gary Clark, Jr. Originally a classical pianist, Jackie picked up the guitar, shortly after graduating from Berklee College of Music, and made the giant leap from the tradition of classical music to the raw and gritty blues.
Enthralled with music since the age of 8, this young singer/songwriter/musician instantly captures your attention with a vibrant musical soul and passionate control of her instruments, that reach far beyond her tender age. As she mindfully blends Blues, Rock, R&B, Soul and more, with her introspective lyrics, the message is clear. When you’re listening to Jackie you hear the “Truth in Music”.
In recognition of her dedication to her craft, Bestfan.com said “Venson is no dilettante, wannabe performer, however a real staple of what a musician can achieve when they put in their 10,000 hours for both musical schooling, and late night pub sessions for practical honing.”
Her live performances revisits what makes music so powerful: emotion and passion. She thrives without the flash, instead favoring a clean sound, genuine soul, and meaningful connection with her audience. Music is not only what Venson does – but also defines who she is and reminds her where she wants to be: performing.
Having finished her second tour of Europe and the recent declaration of “Jackie Venson Day” (May 21st) in the “Live Music Capital of the World” Austin, TX, there’s no doubt she has every reason to lead the way with the trademark smile that accompanies her magnificent musicianship.
“Collectively, their name suits them — Salinas goes from nuanced to a frenzied, blood-in-the-water attack in a heartbeat; Bernick’s instrumental savvy drives the band’s sound, but there’s something wild and instinctual about his playing, too. Renee prowls the stage like a predator, waiting until the perfect moment to pounce with a big voice expressing timeless motifs. The trio’s dynamic live show has made them one of Houston’s premier bands …” – Jesse Sendejas Junior, Houston Press (http://www.houstonpress.com/music/new-only-beast-lp-ups-the-intensityagain-9791024)
Sometimes, authenticity can sneak up on you. The first sounds you hear on The Texas Gentlemen’s debut studio album, TX Jelly, is that of a band slowly coming together.
It’s deceptive, because it creates the impression these Gentlemen might be hesitant about their first record, but any hint of uncertainty vanishes as the core quintet — Beau Bedford, Nik Lee, Daniel Creamer, Matt McDonald and Ryan Ake — tears into the opening track, Habbie Doobie, a low-slung piece of vintage country-funk that slams out of the speakers and announces The Texas Gentlemen as a force to be reckoned with.
This Lone Star-bred collective takes its cues from some of the iconic acts of the past — the quicksilver brilliance of The Wrecking Crew, The Muscle Shoals Swampers (who backed everyone from Aretha to Wilson Pickett), Booker T. and The M.G.’s, and Bob Dylan’s one-time backers The Band are the most obvious examples. Bedford, who shares chief engineering and producing responsibilities at Dallas’ Modern Electric Sound Recorders, assembled The Texas Gentlemen as an all-purpose backing band for an eclectic array of singer-songwriters, including Leon Bridges, Nikki Lane, and more.
In 2016, the Gentlemen were lured out of the studio to the Newport Folk Festival, where they were joined by iconic troubadour Kris Kristofferson, making his first Newport appearance in more than 45 years. Rolling Stone called it one of the festival’s “most exciting sets.”
Kristofferson so enjoyed collaborating with The Texas Gentlemen that he enlisted them to reprise their roles in a series of critically acclaimed Texas concerts. Of Kristofferson and The Texas Gentlemen’s appearance at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, music critic Preston Jones wrote “The [instruments] would slowly coalesce around Kristofferson’s gnarled but still potent voice, creating an electric sensation of the past fusing with the present.”
That deft fusion of before and right now is possible thanks to the musicians’ unswerving dedication to simply playing to the best of their abilities, trusting their instincts, and letting the music guide them. Case in point: TX Jelly was created in less than a week — four days, start to finish — at Muscle Shoals’ singular FAME Studios.
Pared down from the 28 songs the Gentlemen recorded in that 96-hour span, TX Jelly effortlessly connects way back to what’s next, summoning the spirits of American songcraft even as it heralds the arrival of 21st century talent. Cut live, with little use for the blinding polish and careful presentation of so much modern music, TX Jelly oozes with skill backed up by that hard-won authenticity.
TX Jelly moves between contemplative and raucous, encompassing the full breadth of the American experience. The music touches on blues, soul, folk, country, rock and gospel — from first track to last, you can feel The Texas Gentlemen reaching deep inside themselves and finding what’s genuine — what illuminates the truth of the country’s rich, complicated and singular artistic history — and delivering it the only way they know how: real, raw and righteous.
Roots Americana with an Irish twist. An Irish singer and recording artist, Pat Byrne hails from Borris, County Carlow. Byrne won the “The Voice of Ireland,” in 2012. Pat’s voice strikes an emotional chord with his audience; ranging from seductive whisper one moment, to full-bodied rock ‘n’ roll growl the next. If you want to see one of the great success stories from the sundry of talent show winners this is a can’t miss.
Rebecca Loebe’s new album Blink was inspired by mix tapes and the IRS.
Blink was born one summer night on the way home from a gig in South Texas when a song that Loebe had put on about a million high school mix tapes came on the radio. She says, “Suddenly I was transported back in time to the summer I was 17… Before I got home, I’d written Forever Young Forever and the rest of the songs that would make up Blink started spilling out.”
Blink is the fourth full-length studio album from the songwriter who has spent the past decade on the road performing in 44 states of the U.S., as well as Canada, Europe, The U.K. and Japan. Along the way she has honed her voice as one of the Americana music scene’s most exciting new songwriters and earned a place on Alternate Root Magazine’s annual listing of The Top 10 Female Singers in America.
This record was written mostly in the summer of 2016 in my apartment off of Trinity Lane. A few tunes came out on the road as well. After moving out of an ex’s house, I settled into a new neighborhood down the road. Shortly after, I picked up a tour with my good friend John Moreland where we went to the West Coast and back. I was trailing them in my little 2002 Honda Accord that has literally been all over the country with me. A woman in my early 30s, I found myself sick of my same old shit. I was inspired by the landscape of the west. My faith was tested on the curves of the Highway 101 through the Red Woods. I got terrifyingly stoned on weed gummy bears in Denver. I saw real cowboys in Wyoming and drove through a flood in Arkansas. I felt displaced, but connected. Upon returning to the south, my home of Tennessee, I slunk back into my nook off of Trinity. I went over all the things I’d seen. There had been a freedom in being so far away – a lack of responsibility, a distance from some of the issues, if you will, though I’d carried them right with me, back to my birthplace of Los Angeles, peering over the ocean, wondering how you can come so far yet end up in the same place. I contemplated fleeing and just staying in California, but the south is my home and I had to deal with what needed to be dealt with. I started to write. And go to the park. And listen to records. And play my guitar every night. Every time I wanted a man, I picked up my guitar. Every time I wanted a drink, I picked up a guitar. Love will take you to the darkest places but also to the most honest places if you let it. Learning how to love myself is something I’ve always been lousy with, and I spent some time on that. I thought about my sobriety, what that means to me, the struggles I’d had throughout the years, since I was a 27-year-old and hung up my toxic drinking habit. I thought about my mother, who took her own life when I was a baby, not far from my age at 30 years old, and I related to her more than ever. As you can see, there was plenty of time spent on my own. I didn’t talk to that many folks, albeit a few close friends, and leaned into my family. I stayed away from men, and danced alone in the evenings looking out my window observing my humble and lively neighborhood. I found power in being by myself. I found peace in the people I was surrounded with – we didn’t really know one another, but we smiled when passed on the street. One time I almost rear-ended an older woman in her car backing out of my driveway and I said, “Oh man, I’m just not used to any cars coming around this bend.” She replied, “This is our little hideout, baby.” And it really was. The woods were behind me, Dickerson Pike was in the front. So after a while, I had all these songs to play, and wanted to share them. I wanted to get out of town to get some distance from everything, so after an ongoing conversation with Michael Trent, I took my band to Johns Island, SC and we holed up for a few weeks. I poured my heart out, and trusted them with it, and these guys gave it right back. I think we all understood what it’s like to question home, intention, demons, love…. I think most people understand that. I hope you love this record, I made it for you.
The Patient Zeros, originally from the Mid-Michigan area, formed in the summer of 2012 in Denver, CO. Their first full length album, Polycardiac, was released in April of 2013, with a follow up EP, Epicardiac, arriving in August of the same year. New album Sirens Calling (released March 2016) captures the blend of stop-and-go rock n roll with a strong focus on concise songwriting.
The Finger Guns new release, “A Double EP” features 11 high energy songs. Their unique set of influences brought out songs that has a sensibility that spans decades. Slices of 80’s punk, sprinkles of 90’s rock, and spatters of 00’s songscapes to make up a big steaming batch of awesome.
Featuring a line-up of veteran Seattle musicians including Eric Chapman (Big Splash Champion, Kingpin Hayes) on drums, Arthur Hagman (Pinehurst Kids, Luna Park, The Sun-Ups) on bass and Steve Bergstrom (Dapper Jones) on vocals and guitar, The Finger Guns are here to bring their unique brand of catchy punk rock straight to your earholes.
Their live show is incendiary, featuring pounding drums and bass, a buzz saw guitar and straight-from-the-heart vocal delivery and 3 musicians that know people paid to get into the show aren’t interested in watching a band stand around staring at their shoes. These guys flat-out rock.
Recorded over the last couple years at Georgetown’s hit factory Earwig Studio with Don Farwell, The Finger Guns sought to capture a live presence without conceding quality or performance.
Nina Diaz, front woman for Girl in a Coma, started her career in music at only 13 years old and was signed to Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records at only 17. Girl in a Coma released several albums and charted on iTunes and Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. After a decade of collaborating with her band mates, Nina Diaz began writing songs that were all her own.
Her eagerly anticipated, full-length, solo album, The Beat Is Dead, will be released by Cosmica Records on October 28, 2016. Layering Nina’s powerful vocals over a rich background of guitars and synths, the album contains tracks that range from ballads to danceable indie rock. Her live 5-piece band debuted to a sold out crowd in Austin, Texas and has already been invited to play festivals and the Austin Music Awards at SXSW.
“Nina Diaz is one of the two or three most exciting, scary-good vocalists in rock today.” – David Brown, KUT/NPR
David Ramirez We’re Not Going Anywhere: At a historical moment of immense political, social, and ecological uncertainty, those four simple words comprise both a promise and a protest, a comforting reassurance of inclusion as well as a hearty cry of defiance. It’s a statement that offers no small sense of hope, in that sense matching the music contained on the album.
On these vividly imagined and passionately performed songs David Ramirez takes in the world from his unique perspective: “Being half white and half Mexican has made this current political climate especially interesting. So many cultures in this country are being viewed as un-American and it breaks my heart. My family have raised children here, created successful businesseshere, and are proud to be a part of this country. Most of what I’ve seen as of late is misplaced fear. I wanted to write about that fear and how, instead of benefiting us, it sends us spiraling out control.
”Thealbum that bears that title marks a departure for Ramirez, whobuilds on the rootsy sound of his early albums to create something new, something bold, something anchored in the here and now. Scouting out unexplored music territory, these songs bounce around energetically, toying with new ideas and experimenting with new sounds, as barbed-wire guitars and retro-futuristic synths grindagainst his anguished vocals and evocative lyrics.
“We flipped script a little bit and went in with a pretty specific vision: lots of keyboards and some out-of-the-box guitar sounds. I took a lot of notes from the indie bands I’ve been listening to and from the bands I loved growing up in the ‘80s, like the Cars and Journey. Let’s just live in this spacy world for a while and see what comes out of it.”What came out of it isn’t just Ramirez’s most adventurous album to date, but arecord that captures the mood of the country in its music as well as in its lyrics. While he does tackle some new subjects, Ramirez grounds these songs in his own perspective, which means every song remains bothhuman and humane, outraged and generous. There are some break-up songs on here, sober and self-castigating: first single “Watching from a Distance” thrums with iridescent synths and a tight backbeat that sounds like lines on the highway measuring the widening rift between lovers. “People Call Who They Wanna Talk To” is Ramirez at his catchiest, marrying a playful earworm hook to a somber realization about romantic irreconcilability: “Don’t blame it on the distance, don’t blame it on the booze… people call who they wanna talk to.” A simple line, but completely devastating.
“This is the first album I’ve had properly produced,” says Ramirez, who either produced or co-produced all of his previous efforts. For We’re Not Going Anywhere, he hired Sam Kassirer, who has helmed albums by Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, Bhi
Bhiman, and many other artists. “I needed to evolve and change things up a bit, which is why I chose Sam. He pushed me in a way I hadn’t been pushed before.” Kassirer challenged Ramirez to simultaneously simplify and complicate his songwriting, to find new ways to tell his stories. “He said, I want you to try to tell a story but use fewer words and more space. In other words, let’s not make a singer-songwriter record. Let’s make a band record. Once he said that, my mind just opened up in a way it never had before. It was fun to just be more straightforward lyrically. It left a lot of space for the music.
”In January 2017 Ramirez and his band decamped to the Great North Sound Society, an eighteenth-century farmhouse in rural Maine that serves as Kassirer’s studio. Especially in the winter, when the trees are bare and snow blankets the ground, the setting proved inspiring. “It’s very secluded, which was part of the appeal. We were able to get out of ourtouring headspace and stay completely involved with the record and what we were doing.” That allowed the band to concentrate on the music, to pursue ideas without distractions and misgivings, but it also removed them from the world during a momentous event.
We’re Not Going Anywhereturns that distance into a big-picture perspective—engaged and informed, compassionately political but not necessarily partisan. “We’d take breaks during the day and watch the news and see all the rallies and marches and the disruption and the out-of-control feeling that was everywhere then—and, frankly, still is now. We were looking around and no one was around us. The closest house was a mile away, so it was just us. We were grateful just to retreat from that social tornado for a while and create something that we hoped would be very beautiful.”
Looming over every song is the ghost of Ramirez’s great-grandmother, who inspired “Eliza Jane,” a deeply poignant and personal tune near the album’s conclusion. In gracefully plainspoken lyrics, Ramirez describes how she and her brothers left Oklahoma during the Great Depression, heading northwest to Oregon, where she played piano in a country band. “My mom was telling me this story and the song was writing itself. I wish I had knownher, because I’m curious what drove her. I know what drives a lot of my musician friends, but I really want to ask a family member: Why did you do this? Was it just for fun? Was it a passion so deep-rooted that you couldn’t not do it?”
While he may describe the creative process as fun, Ramirez obviously has inherited a deep-rooted passion—one that will continue to drive him well into the future. “I’m not going to be so afraid to take risks in the future, like I have been in the past. I’ve been so stressed and concerned with every detail, but I learned to let that go. Let’s just have fun. Let’s get weird. I’ve never felt that way about my work. I still respect my older stuff, but I just didn’t want to be afraid anymore. That’s what I learned on this one.”