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Girl With Guitar - Vintage Guitar Magazine - Feature Story

 

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"Girl With Guitar"

Vintage Guitar Magazine - October 2007 - Feature Story
by John Heidt

First Fret: Laurie Morvan, guitar player


Vintage Guitar cover that has a feature article on Laurie MorvanLaurie Morvan writes from personal experiences, and one cut on her new CD, Cures What Ails Ya, came directly from real life.

Where Are the Girls With Guitars tells the story of her bringing home Wynonna Judd's Girls With Guitars ripping the plastic wrap off, anxiously waiting to hear string bending by females. As the song tells, the record left her a bit disappointed.

"That song is a true story," she said. "It happened to me just like the song says. I really, really thought there were going to be girls playing guitars on that song." Instead, she saw the names of some of Nashville's finest studio players. All males. Laurie says that sort of disappointment and the lack of opportunity for women guitarists helped fuel her drive to start her own band.

"For me it just seemed like the most natural thing in the world to pick up the guitar and play it. There have been times in my career where it's been challenging to get gigs. I called one ad and the guy on the other end said, 'You sound like girl.' I thought, 'Very good, you're one-for-one.' And then - and I'll never forget his quote - he said to me, 'Girls have innies, boys have outties, and it just doesn't work.'

"How do you answer that? After that, I thought, 'The only way I'm going to be successful, it appears, is if I grab the tiger by the tail and put myself in charge.'"

Morvan has done just that with the new CD chock full of great songs and lead guitar that might even grab the attention of ol' Mr. Innie.

"I was real focused on making a record that would introduce me to the world as a songwriter, a guitar player, and a singer," she said. "I feel really, really good about it. We chose the high road; when you're making a record, you have a lot of choices to make, a lot of expenses, and decisions to deal with. I can genuinely say we took the high road on every turn and just said 'What's going to make this a better record?'."

Her music days started back in Plainfield, Illinois, when she was a teenager playing flute in the school band and drums in the marching band... And then a buddy showed her his guitar. "I just went, 'Oh, my God! This is way better than a flute!'" Time in the marching band helped develop her guitar style, she says, "I think it was good for me, rhythmically."

Girl With Guitar - a Vintage Guitar Magazine articleGrowing up, Morvan's philosophy toward music was the same as it is now. "I listened to everything I heard, and I still do. I'm a very, very open listener. I always say I'm a sucker for a good song, regardless of genre."

Asked her about influential guitarists, and her answer is a bit surprising to those who hear her clean percussive solos.

"Stevie Ray Vaughan was my gateway," she said. "Me and about 800 million other players! I don't try to emulate him, but his music just sort of opened that whole door to the blues."

While her music is firmly entrenched in rock and blues, country players also have influenced her playing. "Guys like Danny Gatton. I like that clean, chicken pickin' sound. Guys who I don't even necessarily know their names. I don't always learn the music, but because it's bouncing around in my head, I go after that technique."

The guitar Morvan used on Cures What Ails Ya - a Fender Custom Shop '56 reissue Stratocaster - came to her as a result of a search up and down the West Coast.

"My friend, John Vestman, who is the mastering engineer on the record, has a '55 Strat. It's a beautiful guitar that just sings. So, we took it shopping with us all over Southern California, trying to find a guitar that sounded like it. I tried tons of Strats and even several other '56 reissues from the Custom Shop. Finally, we were in a store, and there was one nobody had been able to play because of a broken piece on the bridge. The guy says, 'We just got the piece in for that one. You want to try it?' I played the '55 first, because that's how we would do it, so our ears would be tuned up. When I plugged in the '56 reissue... it was the one! And I was beginning to think I'd never find one. The guitar means a lot to me because I went through a lot to find it."

For acoustic work, she uses a '72 Martin D-28. "I bought it in about 1981. I had to live on rice cakes and peanut butter to afford it, but it's one of the greatest investments I've ever made. It stays pretty much at home and in the studio these days. I don't take it to live shows."

Her amp of choice is a Tone King Meteor II combo, a 40-watt head with a separate cabinet. The reissue Strat and the Tone King have given her the sound she's always wanted. "I love my tone and have been getting a lot of comments at gigs lately about the sound," she noted.

Morvan and her band have been gigging up and down the West Coast, and hope to expand that with the release of Cures and the word it's spreading.

And as far as the gender issue goes, she says it's nowhere near as big as it was in the past. "The audiences don't care at all. They're happy as a clam I'm female. It doesn't bother them. I can't get mad about that stuff. My job is just to go out and be undeniably good. I just have to do my thing and try to write great songs and go out and play great every night."

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And thanks to Vintage Guitar Magazine's review of Laurie Morvan, we now know how one Girl with Guitar does it!

 
 
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