Tour Diary: Jackie Venson

Rising ATX guitarist recounts opening for the local blues slinger

Venson (r) and Clark backstage
Venson (r) and Clark backstage

[Late last month and earlier this October, local guitarist Jackie Venson opened a series of dates for Austin blues slinger Gary Clark Jr. We asked for her reflections.]

If I could put it all in one word, I would say "enriching," simply because it encompasses the full experience. Gary himself and his team are so relaxed and experienced, and it gives me hope that I too can build a team like that. Being able to experience his show and see how it evolves every night into its own thing is fascinating. Not only because it's cool being behind the scenes like that, but also it gives me a perspective that most folks, including myself, are usually not offered.

It's humbling seeing the difference Gary and I are individually on in our careers. I very deeply appreciate being humbled, because it's impossible to take for granted. Of the numerous times I have been humbled in my relatively short life, it always hits me hard and brings with it valuable lessons in patience, perseverance, and understanding.

My band and I have gone through so many situations where we have to just plow through, whether it's a long drive right after a gig, dealing with equipment malfunctions, or random disasters happening. Touring ain't for the lazy or weak. This has actually caused us to become closer, therefore our connection to each other onstage and musically has gotten stronger. This is the most exciting thing about it all for me, to be quite honest.

Overall, the shows we've done with Gary have been absolutely amazing, and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity. Two that really stood out to me were St. Paul, Minn., and Selbyville, Del. The crowds were especially stoked about the music, more so than usual.

In Delaware, at the middle of the set right after we finished a song called "Rollin' On," half the crowd stood up for a standing ovation. That was crazy. In St. Paul, we did two nights and it was excellent to play the same venue and spend a little more time in the city.

Exhilarating, fascinating, humbling, and a heck of a lot of work, but it's what I love to do, so here I am, and with it I will stay.

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Jackie Venson, Gary Clark Jr.

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