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Ally Venable's Birthday Concert Was A Gift To Her Fans

Fans and friends completely filled the beautiful Granada Theater to say "Happy Birthday!" to freshly-turned 24-year-old Ally Venable and enjoy the hard charging rocking-blues concert for which Ms. Venable has become known. Loyal fans, and new fans, were not disappointed.

Solo singer Early Times opened the show with his electric guitar and songs about his life, especially his time in New York. Joined by his keyboardist, the full tones soon made everyone in the crowd take notice.

Ally Venable's band quickly took the stage followed by Ally in her traditional glitzy miniskirt and knee-high boots. Looking every bit the part of a rocker chick, she soon proved it. Friendly and affable, she instantly formed a bond with everyone, then proceeded to blow them away with her long-time opening song, "Use Me Up." She went from "sweet little Ally" to "bad-ass musician" and kept raising the bar all night long.

She played a few songs from her new album Real Gone, which has quickly ascended to #1 on the Blues Chart. The single, "Real Gone," with its Stones vibe was an instant crowd favorite and her guitar solo and jam grabbed the listeners and never let go. A Buddy Guy song, "Justifyin'," was one of the first tunes she learned on the guitar and she made this hard-charging song totally hers.

Ally's voice has matured over the years to make her a beautiful songstress, whether on a slower song or a ballad. Her emotions came through on her playing and stage presence to complement her songs, especially the driving "Don't Lose Me," with a slight hint of Jamaican Reggae, and playfulness on the heavy beat tune.

Ms. Venable also has the vocal strength of a chanteuse or torch singer in a New Orleans bar. She now has the pipes to wail on "Broken And Blue," with its in-your-face torchy blues. The great Joe Bonamassa appeared on this song on her album, but it's hard to believe even his riffs could make it any better than what Ally performed that night. Wes Jeans came out on stage to shine during"Texas Louisiana," a song in which Buddy Guy played on her album, but was sung by bassist EJ Bedford in concert.

Ally elicited many emotions during her time on stage, with her guitar riffs and her voice, which she uses as another instrument. Her powerful voice spread emotions and feelings as well as any of her hard core fretting. The fun also came out when she asked between songs, "Don't you wanna kick your dude's ass?" and its gender-specific reply from the women in the audience, followed by the lively "Kick Your Ass."

AV's songwriting skills were apparent as a teen as one of the first songs she wrote was "Comfort In My Sorrows," with its lonely blues intro that segued into a complete hurting-down-deep-in-my-gut blues song. Randy Wall got the chance to shine on the keys and he took it and showed his talent. The extended version featured heavy strings and Ally down on her knees in a position of sorrow.

Early and Wes came out and joined the band on the Grand Funk Railroad-tinged "Ain't That A Bitch." The crowd danced again to Isaac Palido's kick-ass beat on the drums and Jovion Dawson and Jason Grant enlivened it from the horn section. The fantastic show then ended with "Lenny" by Stevie Ray Vaughan, a huge influence on the career of the young ingenue.

The singer/songwriter/musician began her career with great potential and has been adding to her musical resume with every album and every heart-pumping concert. She's had great mentors and a great family to back her and propel her ever upward.

On a personal note, this reviewer first noticed and wrote about Ally several years ago when she opened for Ana Popovic, another female blues artist of distinction. It's been a thrill and a pleasure to review her a few times since then and attend many of her shows as a fan.

Special thanks to Scott Strong and the staff of the Granada Theater and Jack Venable for all their help. Ally is now preparing to tour Europe for several weeks before coming back to the States.

Ally Venable
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Author: David Simers
Photographer: Rene Rivera
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