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PULLING THE STRINGS

Blues singer-guitarist Ally Venable is in control on ‘Puppet Show’

Around age 12, when Ally Venable started on guitar, she dabbled with learning country and pop music by the likes of Miranda Lambert, among others.

Within a year of playing, she heard a Stevie Ray Vaughan song while on a car ride.

“I think it was ‘Pride and Joy’ or ‘Texas Flood,’ ” she recalls. “And I said, ‘I really love this. Who is this?’ So I looked for it and [later realized], ‘I want to do this.’

Ever since, Venable has focused on the blues and feels she’s played a small part in introducing her generation to the genre.

“I think my audience is really diverse, which is really cool,” says the 19-year-old Venable. “I’ll see young girls at my shows.”

She’s not spreading the music alone: Elijah Owings, who played in orchestra with Venable at Kilgore High School in Kilgore, Texas, is her drummer. Bobby Wallace, whom Venable recruited via a Craigslist ad, is her bassist.

No Glass Shoes, the first album by the Ally Venable Band, arrived in July 2016. By the following summer, the group’s follow-up album was well underway, and Venable expected it to be out before the calendar turned to fall.

But once she started talking about the new album with people she calls her “favorite friend musicians,” Venable decided to include them, thereby delaying the project’s release. Gary Hoey plays guitar on “Devil’s Son” and Lance Lopez does the same on “Bridges to Burn,” while keyboardist Eric Steckel and harmonica player Steve Krase guest on multiple tracks.

Puppet Show, which arrived April 13 on Connor Ray Music, features eight originals as well as covers of tunes by Bessie Smith and Taj Mahal.

With a laugh, Venable says she doesn’t remember how she discovered Smith’s “Backwater Blues” or Mahal’s “He Caught the Katy.” But given her perceptive ear and genre of choice, those songs probably struck a chord within her immediately.

“I think the blues is in everything — it’s the origin of music,” she says. “I think all genres derive from blues or have origins in blues. And because it’s the roots of all music, people gravitate toward it.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Ally Venable Band on tour (schedule subject to change):

• April 18: Gas Monkey (Dallas International Guitar Festival kickoff party) — Dallas

• April 20: Keys Lounge — Fort Worth, Texas

• April 21: Six Springs Tavern — Richardson, Texas

• May 4: Dallas International Guitar Festival — Dallas

• May 12: Porchfest — Kilgore, Texas

• May 25: Sin Chew U.S. Blues & BBQ Festival — Las Vegas

• May 26: Mudbug Madness Festival — Shreveport, Louisiana

• May 27: Marker 48 Brewing — Brooksville, Florida

• May 28: High Octane Saloon — Homosassa, Florida

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