FROM AUSTIN CITY LIMITS TO THE SWEETWATER MUSIC HALL
Despite her success and notoriety in Austin, Venson said about her aggressive tour, “you gotta take the gigs…you gotta take the opportunity or you might not get them again, and the fact they’re even our gigs is unbelievable. Humble words from an artist who was honored at the Austin Music Awards as Best Guitarist in 2018-19 and Best Musician in 2020-2021. She has also released three studio albums showcasing her mix of blues, soul and pop music genres. Riding on those achievements, the 31-year old Venson, also a Berklee College of Music alum, then hosted and performed her own Austin City Limits show
Knowing of these accomplishments, we asked Venson what she knew about Sweetwater and how she found her way to Mill Valley. “It’s a very famous venue,” she said without prompting, “and legendary people have played here.” While many people told her she had to play Sweetwater, it was the connection between her producer, Chris “Frenchie” Smith and Sweetwater GM, Maria Hoppe that got the deal done. “Shout out to Maria” said Venson, for “handling the times changing.” In fact, the moment she arrived in town she sent a selfie with Hoppe to Smith, to commemorate her arrival at the famous venue. And with that, Sweetwater’s goal of expanding their reach was well underway.
While discussing Sweetwater’s reputation of serving as a clubhouse to so many notable musicians over the years, Venson said she understands how not being a “name” and not worrying about the pressures of contracts and all the issues facing a successful musician can be refreshing for an artist. She compared Sweetwater to her hometown club in Austin, One-2-One Bar, where she could just jam in front of a built-in-crowd without judgment. The fact is, she said, “all musicians started out being a nobody in a club” and while there is obvious strength in being a name, sometimes I just want to “let loose somewhere and rip a blues solo over a song I never heard before.” But for now, Venson, who said she was a “nobody in a club for a long time” is relishing the prospect of taking her career to the next level. Her Sweetwater audience, the largest since the venue re-opened Labor Day weekend, had the privilege of experiencing a performance reflective of Venson’s blistering guitar skills and inspiring vocals that will continue propelling her to notoriety. Keep an eye out, as Sweetwater is already discussing her return in early 2022!
“The Sweetwater is a very famous place and legendary people have played here”Jackie Venson