Country’s Linsday Ell Is a Total Rock Guitar Player
Even in country music, there are artists finding ways to incorporate their love of rock into what they do. One of those promising young artists doing that these days is up-and-coming country star Lindsay Ell, who shares with The Music Experience's Squiggy some of the rock and blues roots that first got her hooked and influenced what she's doing today for this edition of Gear Factor.
Ell got an early start in music with some legendary musicians helping fuel her music education. Randy Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive and Guess Who fame was one of her early mentors.
"Randy became like another dad to me growing up and he was the one. He originally learned to play guitar from Lenny Breau, so there would be all of these jazz chords up and down the neck and I’d just sit there when I was 13, like, ‘Randy, what is that? I want to learn this stuff.’ So he was the guy that got me playing a lot of jazz and blues growing up. I think it was those riffs that opened up my mind to a whole new world," says Ell, while also jamming a Bachman favorite.
She adds that Jimi Hendrix was also one of her first musical discoveries at a young age: "When I discovered [Jimi] Hendrix, his riffs were just so inventive. He would do his own thing altogether, and I was like, ‘Man, that is inspiring.’"
So how did Ell end up playing country music? “I grew up listening to country and bluegrass, so that’s where I started my roots and Shania Twain was my idol. Watching her play acoustic guitar onstage, I thought maybe I could do that one day, but just electric," says Ell. Then years later, she moved to Nashville, and after seeing Keith Urban perform it further pushed her belief that she could meld her blues and rock influences within the country genre.
"I’ve always written country music as a songwriter so it was just finding ways to mesh the two worlds together," says Ell. "You take an artist like Keith Urban who plays very bluesy things in his country songs, you watch his show and it’s a rock, blues show with country songs. He’s so inventive. So after watching Keith play I was like, ‘Alright, I can figure this out. I can totally figure this out.'”
When asked about her own favorite riffs, Ell digs into a track called "Wildfire" that encapsulates her blues undertones, while also rocking a bit of "Castle" as well.
Ell also jams out a couple of John Mayer riffs, which is fitting as she was tasked by her producer during a case of block over what to do next to jump into the studio and record her favorite album she was listening to at the time. That turned out to be John Mayer's Continuum album.
"I’ve played ‘Slow Dancing’ or ‘I Don’t Trust Myself,’ but when you love a song, you don’t always understand why and when you pick apart the pieces, it just makes sense more,” says Ell.
Lindsay Ell is currently on tour. You can catch her on dates currently booked into October. Get ticketing info here and check out The Continuum Project album here. Watch the full Gear Factor episode with Lindsay Ell above.
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