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"Stunning California axe slinger...exhilarating electric blues guitar style" Modern Guitars

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"Morvan is more than a string-bending fret-burner. She knows how to write a good tune... melodic hooks....catchy harmonized choruses" Blues Rag, Baltimore Blues Society

Articles written by Laurie Morvan

Experience a Virtual Ride-Along at the 2008 International Blues Challenge! Stage 1, the First Set of the Semi-Finals

by Laurie Morvan

**Note - This article was published in Big City Blues Magazine (April/May 2008) and Southland Blues Magazine (May 2008)

You grab your guitar and pedal board and step onto the stage, giving congratulations and encouragement to the passing band who just finished their set, their faces still flush from the exertion. The lights are hot against your back as you survey the line of provided amps, from which you have just a few seconds to choose the one that will give lungs to the tone and timbre of your guitar’s voice. This is your debutante ball, your tribal passage, your first set at the semi-finals of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.

Alfred’s on Beale is bustling and filled with blues fans, some standing in the open areas but most sitting at the tables, many of which press right up to the front of the stage. The air practically crackles with their anticipation and energy. As you turn to face the audience for the first time, ice rattles in a gin and tonic somewhere. Forks and knives clang in the hands of those whose appetites are soon to be sated. Your band, who has truly become family to you over the years, is rehearsed and ready. You feel that familiar surge of confidence, completely at home on the stage because this is where you live. You know exactly who you are and what you were born to do.

Mom and Dad are there. Your brother and sister are there. Your regular touring schedule keeps you more than 2000 miles away from them, so they almost never get to see you perform, but here they are. You make momentary eye contact with your bass player and see the pride and exhilaration in his expression. You’ve worked hard together for this moment. The MC announces your name, the soundman ramps up the mics and that newly-crowned guitar amp trumpets forth with your opening proclamations. Heads bob, bodies lean forward, and that intense and beautiful symbiosis has begun. For these precious 25 minutes, you play as though your life depended on every note and nuance and you are acutely aware of the enormous privilege you’ve been afforded: a heart to heart conversation with the core blues audience.

As in any honest communication, you don’t change who you are or what you have to say. You don’t try to please anyone by guessing what you think they might want to hear. You simply do your best to give them a bona fide look into your soul and you pray they will like what they see and hear. You don’t worry about there being a judge, or a record label executive, or a booking agent present. Your heart is filled with reaching out to the very folks who truly keep the blues alive: the fans.

Like a tornado, your set is over seemingly almost before it started. The aftermath begins. Fans want to meet you, talent buyers press their cards into your hand, leaders of blues societies from around the country introduce themselves, members of the press ask for interviews, radio DJs request a copy of your latest recording, other bands offer their well wishes, and CDs are passed to you in need of autographs. You feel so incredibly blessed that someone wants to hear your words again, wants to share in that musical experience enough to trade some of their hard-earned money for your art.

You sense the gravity of this moment. Your entire universe is about to change. Forces have been put into motion and you will have to take over and push lest they are damped out by the friction of overwhelming resistance that every musician faces. The stone walls of the music business loom tall, daring you to put your shoulder into them, challenging you to heave against their seeming impenetrability. This doesn’t scare you. You are invincible. You just finished your first set at the semi-finals of the International Blues Challenge.

Laurie and her band will be on tour this summer. For more information about the Laurie Morvan Band, visit www.LaurieMorvan.com



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