Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Holy Smokes! In a town like Austin, Texas which is known for guitar virtuosos like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Clark Junior, Jackie Venson holds her own. She can play her tail off on guitar and shred it when necessary. She can also play some reggae, rhythm and blues, blues, and some jazz as well. This 27 year old is well beyond her years musically. She also has a beautiful singing voice. Her band is a trio so she does double duty on vocals and guitar. She sings and plays so flawlessly, you wouldn’t know she was multitasking. Did I mention she also has a degree from Berklee College of Music and didn’t start playing guitar until 2011?
You wouldn’t know she has just five years of guitar playing under her belt. She plays as if she had been playing all her life. So let’s talk music. You like blues? How about tracks like See What You Want and One Step Forward. Those numbers clearly demonstrate Venson’s ability to interpret and play the blues. A reggae fan? Lost In Time (Track 3) should suffice. She can play that spacey reggae guitar style as good as anyone and even takes it up a notch and adds some twists and turns. How about some funk and rhythm and blues? I think Real Love (Track 2) and Instinct (Track 8) will take good care of you. One last thing, do you like both reggae and hard driving face melting guitar in the same song? Then, What I Need (Track 7) is just what you are looking for. There is a little something for all tastes on Live At Strange Brew.
More importantly, this album establishes Jackie Venson as a force to be reckoned with and a name you may be hearing a lot of in the coming years. Trust me, you will want to pick up this release.