A “ridiculous” guitar story

It was a routine trip to my local music store – one I have made many times before to buy strings, rent PA equipment or simply to look longingly at the vintage Telecasters hanging far above the reach of customers. Most of the staff at this music store know me on sight and for the most part they treat me the same as the guys.

On this trip, I was simply looking to add a boost pedal to my pedal rack to enable me to play solos on my electric guitar without adding additional distortion or muddying my sound. I walked up to the counter and there was a new guy on staff who had recently arrived from London. I was dressed in my part time day job clothing with nice dress pants and blouse, most likely looking more like a parent seeking music lessons for my child than a professional guitarist. The new guy was friendly enough as I asked him about boost pedals, but I recognized that familiar response – the one that I’m sure many woman experience when they negotiate buying a car. It’s that unspoken assumption that we really don’t understand and shouldn’t really trouble ourselves with the details. It’s a talking down to rather than a conversation with and coming from nice guys it’s often quite subtle. After years of going into music stores and being ignored while the guy accompanying me gets asked what he needs, I recognize this feeling.

The best part of my story is what happened next. At my music store, I have a great connection with one of the staff. He’s a very tall bearded hipster who is soft-spoken, introspective and shares almost the exact taste in music and guitars as I do. We’ve spent quite a few lunch hours simply talking – about our mutual preferences for telecasters and older Gibson’s over anything Strat-like, about weird guitar modifications and the players we most admire. He listens well, has heard me play and really gets me. So as I talked to the young British clerk, my buddy on staff walked over to the counter and said listen to Jill – she’s a seriously good blues guitarist – “she’s ridiculous”.

Now, not being a hipster, I’m not entirely sure what he meant by “ridiculous”, but I think it was a huge compliment. He was telling this well-meaning clerk to take me seriously as much as he would any other player – he was demanding respect for me. I returned to my part time day job beaming – not because of the compliment about my playing, but because after all these years of struggling to be respected as a player, a fellow guitarist stepped up and softly affirmed my credibility and requested that I be given respect. In that moment, I felt proud and had the thought that maybe things are shifting – maybe women players are starting to be taken more seriously and I just hadn’t noticed.

Whether or not things are getting better, we need guys like my buddy in the music store who realize that women players deserve the same respect as the guys. Not only does it make a difference, but it just might just show upcoming female players that they too can be seen as “ridiculous”.

Ebey Island Freedom Fest

Saturday September 2nd

9pm

Women Play the Blues at

Ebey Island Freedom Fest

1206- 55th Ave SE

Everett, WA

Summer Shows 2017

One of the things I love the most about playing shows in the summer is the opportunity to play outdoor shows on big stages to enthusiastic Pacific Northwest crowds. This summer season has not disappointed with our kick off on what might have been the hottest day of the year at the Eagle Haven Winery. It’s a gorgeous location set in the hills outside of Mt. Vernon with spectacular views of Mt. Baker. We were greeted with a basket of ice cold drinks including some of the finest local wine I’ve sampled in quite some time. Tina and Jim were accommodating and lovely hosts with a great spread of food, big outdoor stage and an enthusiastic blues crowd. Despite the sweltering heat, we had a great experience at the Winery and have been invited back to play next year. We’re looking forward to returning.

Every Thursday in July I’ve been playing shows with Bellingham keyboardist & vocalist, Margaret Wilder (MWB Band) at the Beach at Birch Bay. It’s been a blast to share shows with Margaret and to enjoy playing at this hidden gem on a great outdoor stage with views of the ocean.

Upcoming shows include a featured performance at the Madison Avenue Pub at Unbound Blues in Everett in August and a performance at the summer event of the year with an all women blues band at the Ebby Island Freedom Festival later this summer.

Stay tuned for more details and enjoy the summer!