The blues has been an essential part of Austin-based Jackie Venson’s repertoire since she started playing guitar almost a decade ago. She specifically embraced the sheer intensity of electric Texas-based blues.
“Every time I hear a Texas blues player, it’s just really strong,” Venson says. “They have a way of just commanding the entire room and just melting your face off. But it’s not a shreddy kind of melt your face off. It’s an intensity that only Texans have – I swear.”
Despite this, she hadn’t made a strictly blues-centric album until her latest offering, Love Transcends. After a few years of playing the guitar, she had started “happily” wandering sonically, incorporating and blending more genres. She likes how one can push the boundaries of any genre by “introducing little facets of others.”
It was a special challenge for her. At the same time, there was substantial interest in hearing her more bluesy side. Fans – and other musicians – kept asking her, “Why don’t you have a blues record?”
“They’ve always been curious as to what would have been on my [blues record],” she says. “I’ve never been totally unopposed to it, but I just never really had the kindling to actually go forth and do it. When it comes to creative projects, it’s nice to follow my gut in my spirit. And if I don’t think to do a blues album, I’m not going to do it.”
But when producer Tim Palmer suggested working on a blues album together, she decided it was time to finally commit. They recorded at Austin-based Arlyn Studios.
“It’s nice to kind of reel it in for a little bit of time,” Venson says. “I can do a lot of different stuff, but I wanted to keep this album real traditional, so I didn’t bring in any of my wacky effects like I usually do. I kept it real simple – clean tone, distortion and reverb.”
She credits her custom-made Epiphone Les Paul for allowing her to channel a “balls-to-the-wall Texas blues” intensity. “It has more presence, more intensity and just more oomph than the Strat I used to play,” she says. “Like a Texas blues musician, I wanted to kick down the doors and burn down the building.”
- Love Transcends is out now.