Sunday, May 14, 2017

GUITAR GODS: Jackie Venson

Jackie Venson is a guitarist-singer I stumbled upon just recently. I truly am a lucky guy!

With a smoky voice and a smoldering approach to guitar, everything always seems on the edge of bursting into sonic flames. Songs like "Always Free" (I was stunned silent by the acoustic version), "Rollin' On" (a classic slow electric blues in the finest Texas tradition), "Lost in Time" (an wonderful island-ie groove), and many others show her depth as composer, singer, and player.

Miss Venson performs both as a solo act and with a full band (drums, bass, keys) backing her, and is as fresh and exciting a new talent as I have ever heard. Yes, she really is that good!

Oddly, she only started playing guitar around 2011 (her final year at Berklee, where she studied piano and composition, and graduated in 2012) and wrote, recorded, and released her debut EP "Rollin' On" in 2013.

She went on to record another EP and 2 full-length albums, and has toured extensively across the US & Europe.

Learn more about Jackie Venson at her website and facebook page, and be sure to see her videos on her youtube channel.

I had a chance to chat with Jackie recently - check it out!

1) What are your current projects?

Currently I am working on a new EP called "Transcends", there will be 5 songs on this EP.

2) How does this (do these) differ from your past work?

My writing style has changed and I've collected new experiences in my life to write about.

3) Do you have one project that you are most proud of as a guitarist?

Yes, my 2nd album Live at Strange Brew. We really did capture a moment as a band and as individual players, you can almost feel the energy of the room. I'll never forget that experience.

4) Can you give our readers a run-down of your basic gear (live and/or studio), and do you have a favorite piece of gear?

Yes I like to use 3 pedals, a BOSS RC30 looper, BOSS DD7, and BOSS DS1 Keeley Modded. I like the Fender Blues Jr. but the VOX AC15 goes really well with a Strat as well. My favorite piece of gear by far is my Fender Elite Strat, it has twice as many tone options as your average Strat. It's amazing.

5) Who would you cite as early influences, and who are you favorite new players?

Whitney Houston, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stevie Wonder for early influences when it comes to singing, arranging, and songwriting. My favorite recently discovered players are George Benson, Buddy Guy, Derek Trucks, Eddie Hazel. That's a few but there are so many that have struck me I don't even know where to begin.

6) Can you give a few tips to aspiring players?

It's hard and it's going to take time and constant work. You never stop improving and you're never done, there's no finish line or destination it just has to be your life.

7) How did your time at Berklee, where you studied classical piano, impact your guitar playing and singing?

I didn't pick up guitar until after Berklee really so besides being around so many great guitar players it had little to do with my playing and singing. All I did there was homework and school projects.

8) Can you talk a little about the difference between performing solo (where you use a looper) and with a band (where you have 2 or 3 musicians backing you)?

With the looper I like to make simple beats, I don't like to spend too much time building anything. It's really just there to keep a pulse going and allow me to record rhythm parts in order to play guitar solos on top of said parts. With the band I don't need to worry about that, they take care of it all. Solo is fun because I am in control of everything that's happening however it can become overwhelming. With the band I can depend on them to take care of the parts so I can relax in certain ways and let my personality out a little more.

9) What are your future plans?

More music, more practicing, more touring, more projects, more life.

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