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The rich folk harmonies of Blame Sally

St. Clair Productions will present the folk rock quartet Blame Sally in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland.

The musicians and songwriters of Blame Sally include Pam Delgado on guitar; Renee Harcourt on guitar, bass, banjo and harmonica; Jeri Jones on guitar, bass, dobro and mandolin; and Monica Pasqual on piano, keyboards, accordion and melodica. All four women add their voices to tight harmonies. Blame Sally is often compared to the Dixie Chicks with music that is a little less country and a little more indie and lyrics that are a little more brainy.

The San Francisco Chronicle said, "Collectively they create multihued sonic and emotional tapestries — sharing writing duties, swapping lead vocals and variously recalling the artful romanticism of Jane Siberry, the rich folk harmonies of the Indigo Girls and the percolating soulfulness of Berkeley's fondly remembered Joy of Cooking."

The Marin Independent Journal said, "The Blame Sally women are equally adept at vocals, songwriting and instrumentation. They have a remarkable vocal range and tight harmonies. Delgado has the experience, personality and front-and-center presence on percussion that helps make the magic happen at live shows. Harcourt and Jones prove their versatility often by trading rhythm guitar and bass duties back and forth throughout the set."

The music of Blame Sally deals with real-life issues that individual band members have had to face, from cancer and the chronic illness of a loved one to the joy of motherhood, the excitement of new love, the importance of self-reflection and the pain of heartbreak.

Until now, the women had very diverse lives outside of their music. Harcourt had a successful graphic design business. Jones was a photographer. Delgado made her living as a landscaper. Pasqual wrote music for documentary films made by Winton/Dupont. However, in fall 2008, their dream of being full-time musicians came true when they were offered a five-year, three-album record contract with Opus Music Ventures. Through the terms of the deal, they were all able to quit their day jobs and work full time in the recording studio and out on tour. This spring, Blame Sally will release its fourth CD, the first on the group's new label.

Blame Sally (the name comes from a roommate that made them late for a gig) came into being because of burnout. According to a press release, the individual musicians were all sick of trying to make it in the music world and recording CDs with no money to pay for them. Blame Sally was going to be a fun band with no pressure to make it big.

Pasqual and Harcourt met at the Napa Valley Folk Festival Emerging Songwriters Contest in 1990. In the mid '90s, Harcourt's band Ruby's Tattoo occasionally shared bills with Pasqual's band Planet Ranch, of which Jones and Delgado were already members. In fall 2000, Pasqual invited the other three to back her on her second solo CD. The four women had so much fun, Blame Sally was born.

Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door and $10 for youths 12-17. Children under 12 are admitted free. Tickets are available at stclairevents.com, by calling 535-3562 and at the Music Coop in Ashland.

Blame Sally comes to Ashland in advance of the first CD on the band’s own label. - St. Clair Productions