Beam, photo by Danielle Rubi

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Beam, photo by Danielle RubiBeam - Helene RenautBeam - Helene Renaut

Formed in 2000, Beam is led by French ex-pat Helene Renaut, a music major from Brittany. She describes her musical awakening: “I grew up obsessing on the songs of Jacques Brel until I discovered Neil Young!”

Determined to escape the gloom of her hometown, she busked gypsy songs on the violin to finance a move to San Francisco in 1995. After gradually becoming a fixture on the emerging solo acoustic scene here, Helene began collaborating in earnest. And while Helene remains a constant presence in the SF solo acoustic circuit, Beam is thriving, counting at one time or another members of Call and Response, Willow Willow, and Winfred E Eye members of it’s ranks.

To be sure, it is easy to name check common influences like Leonard Cohen, Syd Barrett and Nick Drake….and there is no doubt that as long as the British Folk revival is still in vogue we’ll have plenty of aspiring Bert Jansch and Richard Thompson clones. But Beam could never draw on as narrow a range of influences. Listeners will also hear elements of Opal, Jolie Holland, Nico, and even Jackie Deshannon amongst the unmistakable sound of Helene’s voice and the compelling stories of her songs.

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