When I met Jackie Venson two years ago, she was lusting harder than Drake on Peachtree over a career as a full-time musician. But then again, who wouldn’t have been with the bait of “almost famous” being dangled in front of them constantly? How many times did she hear, “You’re almost there, you just gotta…” followed by an arbitrary list of ways others were discovered being rattled off as if it contained the magic solution. Jackie did them all and discovered that it’s not magic, but steady, incremental steps that get you closer to your dreams.
On August 25 at Shady Grove, Venson appeared amazingly grown. That wild-eyed musician had been replaced with a confident woman celebrating the upcoming release of her live album, Jackie Venson Live on Sept. 18 and a milestone achievement – Unplugged at the Grove.
soulciti (sc): We met 2 or 3 years ago, and back then you had a long list of different things you wanted to accomplish professionally. Wasn’t Unplugged at the Grove on that list?
Jackie Venson (JV): Yes. It’s pretty unreal, I’m not even making eye contact with you right now because I am taking it all in. It’s pretty nuts.
sc: What does this show mean for you?
JV: It’s inspiration to move forward. It means that I am capable of working hard enough to reach goals I’ve set for myself, even if the goals seem really hard. When I make new goals, I can always think “You remember that one time you played Unplugged at the Grove? That was a really hard goal, but you accomplished it.”
sc: What do you want the [Shady Grove] audience to experience?
JV: I want them to experience pure music.
sc: What is pure music to you?
JV: Pure music is musicians who have played, practiced, been passionate, and put blood sweat and tears into music, and now we’re all coming together and playing it for you. We’re saying, “This is what music has meant for us our entire lives that we have devoted to it and this is what it sounds like.”
We’ve devoted our entire lives to music, and this is what it sounds like.
sc: What do you hope will come from this show?
JV: New fans, more shows in the future, and a good time.
sc: Why a live album?
JV: I’ve already done one studio album and two studio EPs, and i wanted to do something different. Also, I started working with a new drummer, Rodney, who’s amazing, and I wanted to capture that chemistry and that new sound. Working with Rodney did something to the songs that turned them from just acoustic arrangements to band songs.
sc. Where’d you find Rodney?
JV: Rodney was actually my dad’s drummer for 25 years [Venson’s dad was the bass player for the Austin band Blue Mist], all through the 90s. My dad highly recommend him, and finally I was like “Ok, dad I’ll listen to you,” and he was right. As he usually is when it comes to music.
sc: How have you grown since your last album?
JV: I feel that the difference is night and day. I’ve played so many more shows, written new types of songs, performed with different players, toured a lot, and traveled a lot. All of these great experiences have given me new material to work with. Plus, I’ve just had more life experiences getting older. It’s not bad; it’s just life.
sc: Do you still feel urgency to achieve fame as a musician?
There’s a difference between drive and impatience.
JV: Hell yeah. I’m not getting any younger, but that doesn’t mean that I am impatient. I understand that things take time. I get that; it’s just that that sense of urgency….that’s drive. You see, there’s a difference between drive and impatience. I understand there are some things I will have to work for, and I will buckle down and I will do the work, but I will do the work with the urgency. That’s drive. Impatient suggests ungratefulness, or I’m not focused on where I am – which is not true, I am very grateful. But the urgency is what makes me work harder.
sc: What’s your ultimate goal?
JV: My ultimate goal is to be able to retire off the work that I have done. I want to make this my life and have it pay the bills.
Catch Venson’s next performance in Austin at Antone’s Nightclub on Sep. 18, for the Jackie Venson Live album release. The ticket price includes a copy of the new album. Check out her website to follow her musical adventures.
Video by Live Syphon