Oh, Vanna!

Sell your soul to dirty blues punk

All the tunes on Washington state-based musician Vanna Oh!’s Bandcamp page are listed as “demos.” She plans on eventually touching them up in the studio, she tells me over the phone. But I think they’re just about perfect as is. 

Or rather perfectly imperfect, unfettered blues-punk, with Oh!’s big, gluttonous alto sounding like she could swallow a thousand Lady Gagas and drink Billie Holiday under the table. Her guitar playing has skill, rage, an overall bad attitude and a healthy dose of recklessness.

Oh! admits she cracked the code of the guitar solo in the least sold-my-soul-at-the-crossroads way possible: She practiced. “I wouldn’t recommend it!” she says. 

Oh! grew up playing oboe, so she was familiar with the rigor of classical training. Most of all, she didn’t see a lot of women playing lead and she wanted to set herself apart. 

“I was playing three to five hours a day,” she says. “I can improvise a little bit. I like to write out my solos and practice my solos.” 

Coulda fooled me, Vanna.

“As a beginning guitar player, I saw people improvising,” she remembers. “I was like, ‘I want to do that.’” Getting into the blues was the first step. “I didn’t like it at first,” she says. But it was the blues-influenced guitar playing of Jack White that really turned her around.

These days, Oh! spends her life on the road pretty much full-time with her rotating back-up band, the Anys (as in anybody that’s down to play). Because she likes acting just as much as singing, she created the character named Vanna Oh! — she goes by her real name only back home in Spokane, she says. 

Playing Vanna means she can be really different on stage than she is in her everyday life. “I can be a chameleon, play these different roles,” she says, calling Vanna “crazy and big and outlandish.”

Vanna Oh! & the Anys plays with Sub-radio, Golden Boy and Graduating Class — rising, pure pop Eugene wonder kids, mixing Nile Rodgers and Maroon 5 to 9 pm Thursday, June 27, at Old Nick’s; $5, 21-plus.