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Noe Venable
Noe Venable Noe Venable's artistry runs strong and deep. The daughter of a writer father and a reading teacher mother, Noe grew up in San Francisco. As a small child, she made up songs, strumming along on an autoharp-- usually tunes about witches dancing around cauldrons, or about Pan and his nymphs and other characters from Greek mythology. As a high school student, she obsessed over making paper maché mermaids. As a college student, she majored in playwriting and performance. Today, as a songwriter/composer and recording artist, with four records under her belt, Noe is unique in her artistry and comfortable in her uniqueness.

Noe became a songwriter when she was sick with mono at the age of 19. “I’d always written a lot,” says Noe, “mostly stories and plays. But the mono made me so hazy I couldn’t write anything longer than three minutes. So I just picked up a guitar and started plunking around on it.” Within the first week, Noe had written about ten songs. Shortly after that, she was sauntering out to test the waters at an open mic. Even then, fingers stumbling over the fretboard, voice new and warbling, it was clear that Noe had found her medium, and she embraced it, writing so many songs that she rarely played the same song twice. At the open mic, Noe met local musician/recording engineer Tom Meshishnek, who took an immediate interest in Noe and invited her to record in his home studio.

Over a succession of rainy November days, Noe and Tom camped out in Tom's basement. The resulting CD, called "You Talkin' to Me," (1997), features 12 songs, throughout which Noe’s voice floats above a Waitsian clamor of electric guitars and clanging kitchen utensils. This record found its way into the hands of producer Lee Townsend, who immediately approached Noe about working together. Lee secured the opportunity to produce a record for the German indie label, Intuition Music and Media. This CD was "No Curses Here," which Lee produced. Lee also helped to unite Venable with two wonderful musicians-- Bay Area luminary, drummer Scott Amendola (TJ Kirk, Charlie Hunter) and electric guitar player Morris Acevedo. These two, along with two musicians Noe had discovered, violinist Alan Lin and bassist/keyboardist Todd Sickafoose, soon comprised her band, the Ruiners.

In addition to playing with the Ruiners, Noe had begun playing a number of trio gigs with Alan and Todd. This instrumentation, which had come about quite accidentally, when one or another player couldn't make a gig, soon took on a life of its own. Noe's third record, Down Easy captures a live January 2000 performance of the Noe Venable Trio at Tom's basement house concert, Mo's Melody Mansion. Recorded by Lee Townsend, Down Easy was also the last project that Noe and Lee would work on together. After three years of collaboration, both felt that they had reached an artistic juncture, and they decided to part ways.

With heaps of new songs, but no idea how she’d record them, Noe struck out on her own. She got on ebay and bought a hard disk recorder for $2000, and she and bassist/keyboardist/producer Todd Sickafoose set up camp in a living room for six months of sonic experimentation and obsessive tinkering. In January 2002, Noe released "Boots", her newest record and her strongest statement to date.

Thematically, Boots is an urban odyssey, seen through the eyes of a girl. This marks a significant departure for Noe. Unlike Noe’s previous records, in which she usually seemed to be singing as characters she had invented-- a servant to a sorcerer, a doomed Cessna pilot, a dying transvestite, Boots is strongly rooted in Noe’s own experience as a woman. "In so many of my favorite stories," says Noe, "these troubled men dream of finding a woman to save them. You read stories like that and you're troubled, and you start dreaming of the same thing. Then one day you wake up and say, ‘Wait, I am the woman in those stories. But I'm troubled! So now who's going to save me?’ I think that's where Boots begins."

Since releasing Boots on her own label, Petridish, Noe's life has taken off. Ani Difranco heard the CD and invited Noe and her trio to open for her on a month-long national tour. Since opening for Ani Difranco in February-March, Noe has toured with Boz Scaggs, They Might be Giants, and Dar Williams. She's also opened shows for artists as diverse as Rhett Miller, Loudon Wainwright, Gillian Welch, Tim Finn, and Marshall Crenshaw.

All the while, Boots has been making its steady way out into the world, selling more than 5,000 copies in the first 5 months after release, without the aid of a distributor. Sales have come largely through word of mouth, aided by the incredible support of a few independent record stores and the strong support of local press in the cities where Noe has toured. Also, two of Noe’s songs were featured in the film Cherish, which premiered at Sundance, where it was picked up for distribution by Fineline. Director Finn Taylor wrote a scene into the movie where the main character goes to a record store and asks to buy Down Easy. Noe also recorded a cover of Tom Petty’s song “Breakdown” for the soundtrack on Newline Records.

This September, San Francisco Magazine named Noe one of San Francisco's 100 most talented people. For two consecutive years, Noe has been nominated for Best Female Vocalist at the California Music Awards; other nominees have included Tracy Chapman, Gwen Stefani, Victoria Williams and Aimee Mann. This year, Noe was invited to perform at the prestigious "Sings Like Hell" series in Santa Barbara.

Catch Noe performing solo, or with kindred spirits Alan Lin on violin and electronics and Todd Sickafoose on bass and keyboards.

Tour dates, music, press, reviews, photos and much more at www.noevenable.com

   
 
The World Is Bound by Secret Knots
CD $15.99 catalog# PERD5.2
The World is Bound by Secret Knots, Noe Venable
Juniper (mp3)
Black Madonna (mp3)
garden (mp3)
feral (mp3)
lilies (mp3)
Boots
CD $15.99 catalog# PERD4.2
Boots, Noe Venable
Boots (mp3)
Prettiness (mp3)
Stolen Thing (mp3)
Down Easy
CD $15.99 catalog# PERD3.2
Down Easy, Noe Venable
Tarbaby (mp3)
I'm Sad Too (mp3)
Down Easy (mp3)
     
 


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