EPISODE 18 – Ally Venable

Proving the blues isn’t just an old man’s game, Ally Venable is a guitarist and singer who puts a fresh spin on blues-rock traditions. Blessed with a powerful voice that belies her slim stature and a down-and-dirty guitar attack that blends Texas blues with no-frills rock & roll, Venable was just 14 when she cut her debut EP, Wise Man, which earned her a reputation as a rising star in the Lone Star State’s blues community. While stronger rock influences would be heard on later albums such as Puppet Show and Texas Honey, the blues remained Venable’s bread and butter as her precocious talent won her awards and a growing audience.

Born on April 6, 1999, in Kilgore, Texas, Ally Venable first discovered her love for music at the age of four, singing at church in a youth choir. By the time Venable was 12, she had picked up the guitar to accompany herself as she sang. While she originally focused on pop and country music (Miranda Lambert was a personal favorite), Venable’s view of the guitar changed when she heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood and began digging deep into Vaughan and other Texas blues artists. While Vaughan was her biggest influence, Venable was also a fan of classic rock players such as Jimi Hendrix, contemporary blues artists like Joe Bonamassa, and Chicago blues legends including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Buddy Guy. Venable’s natural talent was so great that she soon formed her own band and began playing gigs, and in June 2013, she released a seven-song EP titled Wise Man that showed off her tough blues-based style.

A second and more raucous effort, Train Wreck Blues, followed in May 2015, and Venable was voted Female Blues Guitarist of the Year for both 2014 and 2015 at the EXT (East Texas) Music Awards, while Venable and her band took home ETX trophies for Best Blues Band in 2015 and 2016. Not resting on her laurels, the prolific young guitarist was back in July 2016 with the album No Glass Shoes, which won Venable another ETX Award for Best Blues Album. With Puppet Show, which arrived in May 2018, Venable began folding more hard rock influences into her songs, though she and her band were still steeped in heavy blues. Gary Hoey and Lance Lopez both made guest appearances on the sessions, and the album rose to number seven on the nationwide blues charts. More recognition of Venable’s gifts followed, as she and her band were nominated for Best New Artist and Best Blues Rock Band at the 2018 Independent Blues Awards. The hardworking Venable and her band were back in action in March 2019 when they dropped the album Texas Honey. Later that year, she collaborated with Ina Forsman and Katarina Pejak as part of Ruf Records’ Blues Caravan 2019.