05 March 2009

Mo' Better Blues

A while back, I mentioned the apparent absence of female lead guitarists in rock music, and wondered why, when so many leading violinists (for example) are female, this was the case. It turned out I was looking in the wrong place. Through a circuitous route, starting by reading an article about current Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks, I discovered the blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Susan Tedeschi, and went from her to discover Sue Foley and blues-influenced but wide-ranging Serb Ana Popovic - all of whom I mentioned in my previous post, though these links are to different performances.

But wait, there's more: Deborah Coleman, Debbie Davis, Kelly Richey, and from the unlikely blues stronghold of Finland, slide guitar queen Erja Lyytinen. I used to listen to a lot of 60s and 70s blues-rock, but had pretty much moved away from the genre of music in recent years. Now, via the combined magic of broadband and YouTube, I can see and hear so many great blues and blues-influenced musicians of the past and present that it has really sparked my interest again. Discovering these excellent female guitarists is a wonderful bonus on top of that. But why, oh why, aren't they better known?


by kd said...

PJ Harvey is another good one:

Lee said...

Nancy Wilson of Heart is probably the most famous. June Millington of the all female band Fanny is one of my favorites. I don’t know if you would count the two guitarist in The Bangles or not; they weren’t much into soloing. Over the years I have played with a number of non-famous female pickers who were really good.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, kd and Lee. I was thinking of lead guitarists (a traditionally "male" role in a band) and blues or blues-rock guitarists in particular - and I guess PJ Harvey would qualify as all of those. I had heard of June Millington, but have never heard her music - I will check it out!

I know there's much more to playing the guitar than soloing, but I've got my head enough in the 60s and 70s that I really enjoy guitar solos - if they're good, and not just someone playing scales very quickly - and I have heard some very good ones, via listening to these women play, over the last week or so.

Tim Jones said...

Robert McLean has alerted me to another virtuoso female guitarist, though her music is indie rock rather than blues-based, and she chooses not be a soloist as such. Marnie Stern's finger-tapping technique is certainly impressive, and worth checking out in, for example, her song "Transformer":