Let's go girls

SIENA YATES
Last updated 13:25 28/02/2013
GIRLS WITH GUITARS
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Girls With Guitars International Blues Sensations Tour, presented by Ruf Records (Germany), is on at Diggers Bar in Hamilton at 8pm. Tickets are just $22 through Eventfinder, so head along and see this trio with your own eyes.

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Even cowgirls get the blues. Three of the most kick-ass blues musos in the world, who just happen to be women, are heading this way.

At first sight, they're three girls with guitars. But make no mistake, these three are internationally acclaimed blues guitarists and vocalists that are shaking up the scene all over the world.

Meet Samantha Fish, Danielle Schnebelen and Joanne Shaw Taylor.

They will form the Girls With Guitars live show this year, which took over the Blues Caravan two years ago when it continued to feature all-female acts.

Kansas blues artist Samantha Fish has been one of those acts anchoring the show since 2011.

At just 23, her debut album, Runaway, saw her claim the best new artist debut award at last year's Blues Music Awards in Memphis.

Also from Kansas, Schnebelen is the left-handed bass player of Trampled Under Foot, past winners of the International Blues Challenge. She's had a nomination for best bassist at the BMAs and has already shared the stage with the likes of Koko Taylor, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the Tedeschi-Trucks Band.

Fish and Schnebelen join international superstar Joanne Shaw Taylor, who is simply "dying to see New Zealand".

Taylor debuted on the world stage in 2009 and has since released three critically acclaimed albums, including the recently released Almost, Always, Never.

Taylor describes her own sound as blues/rock, being "a bit heavier on the guitar than in traditional blues".

"I grew up with that sort of Texas blues and classic rock.

"My dad and my brother both played, but Dad was more into that that classic rock and my brother was into shred metal. So I think I picked up the blues because it was the only genre that wasn't taken."

Despite having other players in the family, Taylor taught herself to play the guitar in close competition with her brother, switching from classical to electric at the age of 13.

"It was quite competitive in my house, between me and my brother. My dad had to give us a pretty strict practice schedule because otherwise . . . it could've ended in punches."

But the electric change of heart was more to do with her own preferences than what her brother was doing.

"I was doing classical and I was going quite well, but for a 12- or 13-year-old girl living in Birmingham, England . . . I just wasn't listening to that stuff. I had no appreciation for that kind of music at the time. It was too disciplined for me and, thinking about it now, blues was kind of the complete opposite. It was more based on emotion than on technique, and I liked that."

Taylor was playing and singing at small gigs by the time she was 15, but describes it as "horrendous".

"I was not a natural singer whatsoever, and there's probably YouTube evidence of that. But thankfully, with age and a lot of practice, I got a lot better."

Indeed, she's now being compared to the likes of blues/rock legend Janis Joplin - compliments she says still shock her.

But perhaps one of the greatest honours was not only being invited to play lead for Annie Lennox, but to do so at the Queen's Jubilee.

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"It was very hard, but very exciting. It was a huge show on a pretty historic stage. I knew Annie . . . but had never had a chance to play with her before. Then she knew she had the jubilee coming up and I think she just remembered me. But she's terrifying - she's Annie Lennox, you know? She's just so awesome and I love her."

But now Taylor's blazing her own path to stardom, claiming fame overseas and arriving for her first New Zealand tour off the back of touring Australia, and no plans to slow down any time soon.

This is the first time these artists have had the opportunity to play the same show together, and with nine New Zealand dates set, they're hoping it'll be a good introduction to a country they're dying to see.

- Waikato

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