I wanted to treat my friend Rocky to an evening with Jackie Venson and her band on his birthday. Rocky had to cancel at the last minute, so I saw the show alone. But I was glad I saw her again so soon. The first time I saw her, she was playing with her band and despite all her energy she is even more energized with her guys behind her. She introduced the bassist, keyboardist (piano and keys), and drummer several times but I could never quite catch their names. And I cannot find their names anywhere. The band was leaving the next day for Europe to play several festivals.
The looping equipment was there but mostly sat unused. She did loop some guitar and the drummer for one or two songs. Venson shredded the guitar even more this night. And with the band behind her and the guitar blending in, her voice stood out more. The band members got solos and all are excellent musicians. Her drummer performed with her father for 25 years. On the second to last song (blues) the pianist extended his solo while he and Venson traded licks.
The Cutting Room is a very pretty venue. You walk into the bar and past the tables to a room behind a red velvet curtain. It is a sitting room with comfortable chairs and sofa. Beyond that is the performance space, which looks like a Russian nightclub with lots of red and dark wood. There is a full menu. I had steak frites, which were good.
There was a guest blues guitarist (another name I could not quite catch), whose playing matched Venson’s and then drove to greater heights. On the last song (blues rock) she was playing a searing solo and the guest jumped on stage but Venson was so lost in the music she did not see him until he started playing and that startled her and she laughed.
Songs included “Run,” “Patience” (an upbeat breakup song), and “Mysterious.” The band performed from 7:30pm to 9:20pm, which I was not expecting but loved every minute of it. Again, my favorites were the blues and blues rock songs.
She played that new song again – the one about a man she can only have in her dreams. Except this time he was Robert Downey Jr or Barack Obama.
For the encore, she played “Don’t Lie to Me,” where the riff had come to her in a dream. In the dream, she was performing in a stadium and when she played the riff people cheered. So, she needed to write a song around the riff.
Her last song was a cover – Duffy’s “Mercy,” in which Venson took no prisoners.
By Carene Lydia Lopez