Women who play the blues

While playing at a recent festival, I asked the audience members to come up with the name of five female lead guitarists (without cheating by looking on phones and other devices). I offered my newest CD free to the first person who came to the merch table after the set with the names. It’s not surprising that many people can’t name more than a few players in any genre – Bonnie Raitt tops the list as well as a few well- known rhythm players like Joan Jett. I had a man approach me sheepishly and ask if Elizabeth Cotton counted and I said “of course, she was a trailblazer.” He beamed as he walked away without providing any other names. As a lead guitarist I have been inspired by many of my favorite players like Debbie Davies, Joanna Connor, slide guitarists Ellen McIllwaine, & Bonnie Raitt, rocker Carrie Brownstein and jazz great Emily Remler. I’m also encouraged by some of the newer batch of players like Orianthi and Samantha Fish.

So what’s my motivation for asking audiences about women who play the lead guitar? Well it’s a great way to meet people who come to see me play, but more importantly it’s a way for me to encourage folks to notice that there are a lot of women guitar players who deserve to be heard and known. I hope I can inspire and challenge people to think about the blues as more than female vocalists supported by the boys in the band. Here’s to the women who can really play the blues!



This year’s Northwest Folklife Festival is all about beats, rhythms and the traditional roots of the music we enjoy today. I’m thrilled to be a part of the 44th Annual Festival as a blues performer and have been inspired by the artists who paved the way for contemporary blues artists, especially the women. From the guitar stylings of sister Rosetta Thorpe and Memphis Minnie to the slide playing of Bonnie Raitt and Debbie Davies, there are plenty of women who’ve led the way for the next generation of female blues musicians. I’ll be playing a featured set as part of the Lady Sings the Blues Showcase on Friday May 22nd at 4:45pm. C’mon out and enjoy the Festival.

Musings on Mother’s Day and Lovestruck Blues

It was one year ago, the day before Mother’s Day that I released my original blues CD, Lovestruck Blues and performed my songs at a club in Vancouver, BC. The evening was delightful with a full house including friends, family and talented musicians who’d been a part of my project and who joined in the performance. But the most poignant moment of the show came when we dimmed the lights and my daughter, Michelle and I sang together on my ballad, Without You.

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Jill Newman & daughter Michelle

It had been a great experience recording with Michelle. I’m not sure if I was inspired by Levon Helm and daughter Amy or perhaps the Judd’s, but there’s something really special about recording and singing as mother and daughter, no matter how divergent the styles. We were never a typical family; performing together in musical theatre shows with my daughter acting and singing and me playing guitar while dressed in black so the audience wouldn’t be distracted by the band. We often found ourselves driving home from shows way too late on school nights. And it wasn’t unusual in our household for me to be rocking out on Kurt Cobain riffs or Led Zeppelin, while my daughter, as a young child, belted out the newest show tunes and told me to turn it down.

Michelle recently graduated with an opera degree, while I continue to write and play my roots infused blues. It seemed fitting that we  recorded together and sang the new tunes in front of an audience filled with family and friends. As Mother’s Day approaches I am reminded of that special CD release performance and of how proud I am of my daughter and the recording we made together.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

International Women’s Month


As part her month long International Women’s Day celebrations, Marlee Walker of Blues To Do will be featuring female musicians and I’ve been invited back to the Feedback Lounge in Seattle with my blues trio on March 24th.

Ladies Play the Blues:

At the Ladies Play the Blues event on Feb. 24th at Seattle’s Feedback Lounge I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Beth Wulff on keys, Melanie Owen (Groovetramps) on bass, Kim Wrede on drums with a special guest appearance from Portland based vocalist, Lucy Hammond.


Reflections on the New Year

I’ve been having a great time since the release of my CD Lovestruck Blues, playing gigs from Seattle to Vancouver with some very memorable shows and notable reviews along the way. I look forward to returning to some of my favorite venues like the Conway Muse in Conway, WA which has a magical vibe –a former dairy barn with high ceilings, rich wooden walls and a warm sound that fills the room. The Muse is all about original music and it has some of the best touring blues and roots acts in the Pacific Northwest.

This year also brought me opportunities for musical collaboration – as the guitarist with some fabulous women of the blues at Marlee Walker’s Pink & Blues show in Seattle. I’ll be returning there in the spring for the Women of the Blues shows and also for a televised show with my trio. At the Madison Avenue Pub (Ladies First III) I shared the stage with some very talented women including Mary McPage, Lori Hardman, Cindy Lang and Sheri Roberts Greims. I’m returning in February as a featured guitarist with Paul and Willow, the fine team behind the Unbound Sound Production.

From festival shows to the Dakota Creek Winery and the International Art Festival in Peace Arch Park to the Kulshan Brewery, Madison Avenue Pub, Cottage Bistro, Porter’s Coffeehouse and one of my favorite Vancouver venues, Guilt & Company, it’s been a music filled year and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love to do, play music for anyone who’s willing to listen. Here’s to a 2015 filled with adventure, collaboration with friends old and new and playing the blues.

Church of the Blues




Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 

The COTB is proud to present Jill Newman

at the Songwriter Showcase

Ladies First III show success!


 Jill_ladies first

November’s been a busy month with shows in Seattle, Bellingham, Everett and Vancouver, BC.

Bellingham bassist, Jeff Gray (formerly with the Dusty 45’s) joined me on upright bass for a post Halloween duo show at the Kulshan Brewery which was a blast.

The Ladies First III show last Saturday night at the Madison Avenue Pub in Everett was a great success.

The venue was packed and the women being featured, Cindy Lang, Mary McPage, Sherry Roberts Greims, Lori Hardman delivered strong sets of covers and original material.   I rocked out in the middle set on slide with my original tunes and the backup band with Brian Butler, guitar, Paul Quilty, bass and Wayde Leslie, drums was really solid.   And I have to thank Paul not only for sharing his birthday with us, but for creating a really cool poster that audience members had the performers sign. I love the shared show idea as it makes for an entertaining night for audiences who get to support their local favourites and to check out artists they’ve never heard before.

Women in the Blues

Pink& blues


At a recent benefit for WA drummer and veteran, David Chapman’s family held in Bellingham, I met some fine women musicians. There were a lot of players who came out to honor David and his family. The “girl power” portion of the show where Mary McPage led a group of female vocalists with me on lead guitar performing one of her original song. It was an awesome experience. After some folks heard me play, I received a number of invites to perform at some very cool events. I’m thrilled to add these to my calendar.

Two upcoming events include Marlee Walker’s Blues To Do Live “Women in Blues Musical Collaboration” at the Feedback Lounge - 6451 California Ave. SW, Seattle. I’ll be playing there on October 21st with a group of fine women players and singers. After two successful Ladies First Shows, the Madison Pub - 905 Madison St in Everett features the Ladies First III Show on Saturday Nov. 8th. The event showcases five female artists for a set per artist and I’m thrilled to be part of that event. Stay tuned for pictures and updates!

Leaning in to the fall season

After an extended summer season of playing on outdoor patios well into September, it’s time to take the show indoors.

I’m looking forward to exciting gigs from Vancouver, BC to Seattle, WA. I’ll be playing a show on Saturday Oct. 18th at the funky Conway Muse in Conway WA with Jeff Gray (Formerly Dusty 45’s) on upright bass.

On Saturday Nov. 1st, Jeff and I play a show at Bellingham’s Kulshan Brewery. It’s my unofficial wedding anniversary that day, but fortunately I have an understanding spouse.

Women in the blues shows this fall: Pink & Blues: Oct. 21st at 8pm.- A Women in Blues Musical Collaboration Tuesdays at the Feedback Lounge, Seattle. On Saturday Nov. 8th it’s Ladies First III at Madison Avenue Pub in Everett where I’ll be featured as part of a women artist showcase.

December 7th I’m back in Vancouver, BC with my trio for an evening of originals and covers at Guilt & Co. Check out my gig calendar for show locations and details.