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Austin360 On The Record: Jackie Venson, Rod Melancon, more

Peter Blackstock
Jackie Venson celebrates the release of "Joy" with a listening party April 4 at Native Hostel and a concert April 12 at the Paramount Theatre. [JAY JANNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]


Jackie Venson, “Joy.” Our Austin360 Awards Artist of the Year in 2018 after being voted Breakout Artist of the Year in 2017, Austin native Venson’s career has been on a solid upward trajectory for a few years now. After touring with Gary Clark Jr. in 2017, she spent much of last year releasing a half-dozen singles, which are gathered here along with seven fresh songs and a series of short interludes that serve as transitions between tracks. Taken together, they’re a sort of tour-de-force mission statement showing everything Venson can do. Yes, her blues-guitar chops stand out on some tracks, but others testify to Venson’s increasingly artful touch in creating studio-savvy pop-soul material focused on her engaging vocals. Listening party April 4 at Native Hostel, release show April 12 at Paramount Theatre. Here’s the title track:

Rod Melancon, “Pinkville” (Blue Elan). On his fourth album, the recent transplant from Louisiana worked with midas-touch Austin producer Adrian Quesada and guitarist Will Walden to create a 10-song journey through sounds that lean heavily on the swamp roots of his home turf. Fans of the Drive-By Truckers’ epochal “Southern Rock Opera” might find some common ground in what Melancon is after here; sometimes he’s telling backwoods stories in spoken-word mode, before sliding into a rough-edged rock & roll growl. He pays tribute to formative influences Freddy Fender and Tom Petty on the mid-album tracks “Corpus Christi Carwash” and “Heartbreakers,” respectively, before a more direct salute to Bruce Springsteen with the Boss’s edgy anti-TV anthem “57 Channels.” Release show April 4 at Saxon Pub. Here’s Melancon’s version of Tom Waits’ “Goin’ Out West”:

Brandon Wayne DeMaris, “Brave Bones.” Recorded at Austin’s Same Sky Productions studio with co-producers Dave Madden, David Messier and Andre Cantave, this eight-song record (plus four acoustic bonus tracks) is a new turn for DeMaris, known primarily as an event producer and behind-the-scenes industry figure in the local music community. Such a crossover into artistic territory can be tricky, but DeMaris proves to have an appealing set of original folk-rock songs, and his ace supporting cast (which also includes backing vocalists Akina Adderley and Grace Pettis and instrumentalist Adam Countryman) helps make the music shine. Release show April 10 at Antone’s. Here’s the title track:


APRIL 12: Adam Carroll, “I Walked in Them Shoes.”

APRIL 12: Natalie Price, EP, release show April 12 at One-2-One Bar.

APRIL 26: Walker Lukens, “Adult,” release show April 26 at Mohawk.

APRIL 26: Randy Rogers Band, “Hellbent,” playing March 22 at Rodeo Austin.

MAY 3: Little Mazarn, “Io” (Self Sabotage), release show May 2 at Cactus Cafe.

MAY 3: Kim Simpson, “The Comets Swish Their Tails,” release show May 2 at Townsend.

MAY 17: Jimmie Vaughan, “Baby, Please Come Home” (Last).

MAY 17: South Austin Moonlighters, “Travel Light” (Station House).

MAY 24: Texas Horns, “Get Here Quick” (Severn).

JUNE: Willie Nelson, “Ride Me Back Home” (Legacy).