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2004 press release for the pale green girl and avengers
once in a blue moon bio
Penelope Houston has been called alot of things. In the New York Trouser Press Record Guide, Ira Robbins proclaimed her, at 19, as "...the archetypal indomitable rock'n'roll woman, her strength and aggression are what elevates these tracks from energetic but typical punk to remarkable personal statements... the Avengers (her first band) were a major national asset." In The Unknown Legends Of Rock And Roll, she's marked as "the soul-sister to Nick Drake and Sandy Denny." The All Music Guide states that she "helped pioneer the melodic-yet-hard-hitting alternative rock... mined by such performers as Liz Phair and Aimee Mann."
Once In A Blue Moon crystallizes the most tender moments of her chameleonic career. It was recorded circa 1993-1996, at a time when Penelope and her band toured extensively throughout Europe, released 5 CDs, topped critic and readers polls alike, as Best Singer of the Year, Best Album (for The Whole World) and Best Concert in Spex (Germany's SPIN). In the US, Penelope was nominated for a BAMMIE (Bay Area Music Award) for best female vocalist in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, winning in 1994.
This collection of rarities reveals an intimate view of the inner workings of her long-time acoustic band (Steven Strauss, bass/vocals; Mel Peppas, mandolin; Eliot Nemzer, guitar; and Kevin Mummey, drums/percussion) playing live in the studio, on tracks taken from the long out-of-print European CD Silk Purse. Another limited edition CD Crazy Baby is the source for 4 more tracks; touching collaborations with her musical partner Pat Johnson, such as "Another Train Blues" and the heart-wrenching "Take Care" by Alex Chilton. Providing a more up-to-date sense of her work are 5 songs demoed for her last album Tongue, but never released. And finally "(Velvet) Things," a live outtake from her last Warner Bros. session, featuring Chuck Prophet, Tim Mooney (of American Music Club) and Joel Reader (Mr. T Experience,) who stretch out the song 'til it twists darkly in the breeze.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Seattle, Penelope Houston has spent her life surrounded by music. In 1977, opting for a career of a different nature, Houston headed south to attend San Francisco's Art Institute. In a short time, the 19-year-old student found herself at a point where art, culture and music collided - as the lead singer and songwriter for The Avengers, a foursome that critic Greil Marcus described as "San Francisco's best punk band - in their moments, they were, you knew, better than any other band playing that night anywhere in the world."
In the two short years of their existence, The Avengers appeared with the Sex Pistols at Winterland - that group's legendary last show, recorded with Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and headlined dates with the Go-Go's, X and the Dead Kennedys. When it was over, Penelope explored other worlds, moving first to Los Angeles to work in film and video, then on to England where she contributed to Howard Devoto's post-Magazine projects. Eventually, she returned to San Francisco and, listening to artists like Tom Waits and the Violent Femmes, was drawn to the possibilities inherent in the acoustic approach. She formed a band, toured the U.S. and Europe and with albums like 1993's critically acclaimed The Whole World, soon found herself front and center in the burgeoning world of neo-folk.
Since then she has blended her influences of punk, folk, rock, blues and americana, in both acoustic and electric forms, on another 6 records. After years on both majors and independents, not unlike Aimee Mann and Jane Siberry, Penelope is starting her own label. Once In A Blue Moon, her 11th album and the first release on penelope.net records, is certain to capture the ears and hearts of her fans worldwide.