B411: Was it/is it difficult for a lady who plays guitar to be taken seriously or to get work?
LM: At this point it is hard for everyone, it’s not just hard for woman. I don’t want it to sound like its women complaining – it isn’t – the music is so hard. Now woman do have a different flavor of trouble. When I started playing, this was in the late 80’s, there were people who treated you as a novelty, instead of as an artist, and nobody wants that. Yeah there have been times that I was frustrated – things that I couldn’t get, shows that I couldn’t get on.
There was this one club that I could just never get in, and I knew I belonged there. So I had one of my male friends try to book me in – ya know man to man. He came back and said to me that he never realized how hard it was for a female guitar player to get booked. He said it was so eye-opening for him, the guy told him women shouldn’t be playing – so I never got booked there till he sold it and BOOM I got booked.
Inappropriate things have been said to me, or you are not being taken seriously, but ya know what, as I said everyone has a different flavor of hardship that they go thru – it’s all blah, blah, blah – but once you do get on stage and you play your ass off, then who’s gonna argue with you after that?
Sometimes the doors don’t get opened for you and sometimes it still happens. There have been festivals where I have been told ‘we already booked our woman’ singular. I have been told that within the last couple of years. My lord there are like twelve male acts but there can only be one woman. I kinda shake my head, it’s like the woman are a genre ! That can be a little weird but all that being said there may also be a guy who can’t get on because they might have a guy who already plays a purple guitar – see what I’m saying, it’s all different flavors of hardship we all get them thrown at us in some form, but yes it is different in some cases for women.
B411: Yeh I understand, but I am not a women and I (and possibly other men) don’t know what it’s like. The very first time I saw Bonnie Raitt (in like 1978) since there was no other female that I could relate her playing to I said she played it like a man. I think that the lack of women guitar players created that thought in my mind – I had no where else to go with it, no prior experience.
LM: Yeah people say that to me ‘you play guitar like a guy’ and I say no I play like a girl – this is exactly how a woman plays a guitar. I am a woman and I play guitar so this is it !
B411: Candye Kane told me her response to someone saying that Laura Chavez played like a man, it was something to the effect that she’s playing it with her hands not her female parts, hands are non-gender specific !
LM: Great answer. You try to stay low key about that. I have been playing along time now. The Blues world might be just discovering me in the last four or five years but I’ve been pounding in the clubs. I used to play Rock & Roll and found my way to the Blues. I wish I could have been exposed to the Blues when I was eighteen, but I didn’t know anyone who was listening to it. I just wasn’t exposed to it, and that’s what it takes, you need to have access to it to know you love it.
That’s what the Blues was like to me, when I first heard it I was like ‘ahh what is this beautiful music that I have just never been exposed to’, and then I went after it.
B411: So you come from a Rock background ?
LM: I was in a power trio, it was the late 80’s early 90’s. Stuff like Heart, Pat Benatar, Jimi Hendrix, we did Eric Clapton, and it starts to point in that direction, then Stevie Ray Vaughn – who is this Stevie guy ? It’s such a wonderful musical palette all the forms of it. But what gets my heart pumping is the Rock & Roll influenced Blues, I just love it. My desert island music is Stevie Ray Vaughn. He was my gateway to the Blues so I will always love him and his style of Blues. It’s kinda like your first love which you never will forget.
B411: Any other influences that you found when you went back to the Blues?
LM: Bonnie Raitt, of course. But again, I came through Pop Music to discover it. So you listen to her pop tunes and then to some of her older stuff and realize how cool they were and want to learn more about all of it. I think one of the greatest songwriters in the whole wide world ever was Freddie King. To me the breadth of his songwriting and the influence it still has is just incredible.
I consider myself a songwriter first, and you know how much I like to play guitar, but to me music is all about the song. Without a real song the guitar playing would have no meaning. The guitar is there to serve the song and help energize the people. But I think the song will transcend and that’s whats gonna last. Sure Freddie King was a great guitar player, but what we remember are his songs. That’s what stirs peoples hearts, I’ve always admired that about him.
B411: He was the complete package for sure. It pays to be able to play and sing – to get that spirit level to a good balance, as I said the whole package.
LM: Yes, I sort of liken it to track and field where you can have the worlds greatest 100 yard sprinter, the worlds best shot putter, the world’s best high jumper and no one else can do these things better. But then you have the decathlete, people who can do many things and do it all well. They never will be the best at any one thing and that’s the way I look at musicians like me. You always find a better singer than me, or guitar player or business manager but I have to do ten things in my band and have to do them all well. So when you are going for that total package your brain has to multitask therefore you can’t specialize. It all kind of comes around to where in track and field you have the decathlete in the Blues you have the entertainer. You become the complete entertainer, can you talk to the audience? Can you relate to them, do you have stories behind your songs…..but there are only 24 hours a day, I am interested in a lot of things so being an entertainer is what I see myself as globally. I want people to have a good time, I want people to walk away from my show saying it was a good way to spend some time, they felt the fellowship with the band and their music. So all the other parts feed the main goal as being a great entertainer.
Visit Laurie on her web site: http://www.lauriemorvan.com/
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
photos: Leslie K. Joseph