Midsummer Night's Dream
Lights and Fences
Woods Part of When
San Francisco chanteuse Noe Venable has gained a loyal following in the Bay Area with her sweet vocals, the intelligent craftsmanship of her songs, her affable stage persona, and the extremely talented musicians with whom she surrounds herself.
Although she played music from an early age, Venable found no comfort in the overly formal, frighteningly rigid piano recitals she participated in, but she loved classic rock bands like the Who. Her first real plunge into performance happened in the theater; a precocious youngster, at the tender age of 12 she appeared in a play directed by visionary George Coates, whose dizzying multimedia events have garnered him considerable fame. While attending university, Venable found herself bedridden with mono; like the nutcases of Ween -- with whom she has nothing in common -- the budding songstress used the downtime to play guitar and write songs. She further developed her skills by playing as often as possible at open mics and then by busking on the streets of Europe for half a year. Upon her return, she teamed up with Tom Meshishnek; together they recorded the quirky You Talkin' to Me? in his home studio. Despite (or because of) its homespun, lo-fi nature -- Venable used pots and pans and a candy machine to serve as drums -- the recording attracted the attention of producer Lee Townsend (Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, John Scofield), who negotiated a deal with the German label Intuition. No Curses Here was released in 1998, showcasing the singer's expressive, childlike vocals and considerable talent at melding genres; folk, country, jazz, and pop all fall effortlessly from the songwriter's pen and the result is an immensely enjoyable and surprisingly accomplished adult alternative record. Venable has been extremely busy since then: she is constantly performing, whether with a full band or a trio comprising violin, bass, acoustic guitar, and vocals, she was nominated for a Bammie, and she has built a studio in her living room. With her trio she released the live Down Easy in 2000; a song from the record is featured in the upcoming film Cherish, starring Liz Phair and Robin Tunney. ~ Will Lerner, Rovi