Gal Holiday is a Country Swing band from New Orleans that incorporates original material with the best of country, rockabilly and western swing classics. Singer Vanessa Niemann, who started the band in 2004 began her career when she was 3 years old, playing tambourine on stage in the rural mountains of Maryland. Those mountain roots are still evident in her lively rendition of the band’s first original song, Blue Ridge Baby (2007) while homage to her adopted home radiates in Louisiana Waltz (2010).
Vanessa quickly progressed from tambourine to piano, trombone, clarinet and cello before focusing on voice, which led to her first professional work, performing with renowned D.C. area big band leader Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra. Her vocal range glides seamlessly from a dreamy Patsy Cline to a gritty, hard-edged Johnny Cash, with a twang of country reverence for Merle Haggard and Bob Wills. Vanessa’s encyclopedic knowledge of American roots music punctuates each performance and lends gravity to a New Orleans country band that must co-exist with traditional jazz, zydeco and funk.
The band’s eponymous first CD sold out quickly after two pressings and in 2010, they issued their second studio CD, Set Two, galvanizing Vanessa’s place as a leader in the pantheon of New Orleans musicians. Set Two and the band won numerous awards, including a Best of the Beat from OffBeat Magazine for Best Country/Folk Band and Album. Gal Holiday’s third album, Last to Leave, slated to release in January 2014 is their most original heavy to date, with 11 out of 12 songs written by the band. Funded by Kickstarter, their third effort is proof that they remain a viable act with fans in New Orleans and beyond.
The Gal Holiday band features some of the best country pickers in the New Orleans area and plays regularly at favorite spots in the Crescent City. 2013 marked their sixth year in a row performing at the world renowned New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and they have played with and opened for many amazing acts including Marcia Ball, Wayne Hancock, Mike Ness of Social Distortion and The Blind Boys of Alabama, a show in which Vanessa sang with the BBOA. In September of 2012, Vanessa was honored to be invited to join the acclaimed band, Squirrel Nut Zippers whose 1996 album, Hot, went platinum. Outside of New Orleans, Gal Holiday tours regularly, equipped with a repertoire of classic, obscure and original songs that showcase Vanessa’s vocal talent and the band’s unique sound.