The name Liz Melendez is becoming synonymous with great guitar across the globe. While her lead and rhythm guitar prowess alone puts her far ahead of her contemporaries, the strength of her vocal ability and her skills as a songwriter make Liz a genuinely unique and powerful artist.
Her dynamic live performances thrill audiences as she effortlessly demonstrates her versatility, often paying homage to her influences as a highlight to her own clearly defined lead guitar and vocal style.
I recently had the honor of seeing her perform and I have to say,
“She is FABULOSO”
Wanting to know more I had a few questions:
There is not many Female Player’s of your caliber!What has it been like making a name for yourself going up against the Boys?
I’ve always said that ignoring the gender line has gone a long way to wiping it out for me. That is still true to some degree. But while I’ve never had any interest in tiptoeing around the unspoken rules and limitations of the gender roles, I can’t deny that It probably would have been a lot easier to defer to more congenial gender norms – to work at being good enough to be interesting but not so much that it becomes threatening. That just wouldn’t have been true to what I felt I was meant to do. People of either gender who are ok with who they are and what they are doing don’t seem to have a problem with that. Anyone who does have a problem with it can meet me on stage with a guitar and we’ll talk about it.
Share the Stage with anyone dead or alive who and why?
Janis. I have always been haunted by the transparency of suffering in her music. Stevie Ray Vaughan had that same powerful, haunting quality. It resonates with people because there is something uniquely authentic about it which, to me is what art is all about. I could rattle off a lot more names – Carlos Santana would be transcendent, Clapton would be amazing because I grew up listening to so much of his music, Albert King, Freddie King, Emmylou Harris, Roy Buchanan, Alvin Lee, Jimmy Page, Joni Mitchell, Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh, Levon Helm, Etta James, Mavis Staples… I was raised on the great music we all love so my ultimate jam would be a monster lineup of epic proportions that would probably make the planet explode.
I love your Tune “Justice County” tell me about it?
I wrote that song while visiting my home state of New Mexico. The lore in my family is that my great-great-grandfather was a member of the Billy the Kid gang – a real western outlaw. And I love southern rock so I married the anthemic southern rock style with the story of a fictional western outlaw. The track that precedes it on the CD, Caza de El Niño (Chase of The Kid) is a musical narrative of this fictional outlaw as he is pursued through the desert, through different parts of the chase and culminating in his being cornered and gunned down in a field. A “killing field” as it says in the lyrics of Justice County. The subtext is of course a metaphor for some of the experiences I have had in life and in the music business as an artist learning from my mistakes and often going against the grain of what other people think to maintain the integrity of my path.
Advice for up and coming Players?
That’s an interesting question. It really depends on the goal of the person. My default answer to this used to be based on what I think is important – the craft, serving your talent, the integrity of your art, creating, etc. But in reality, not everyone is trying to be an artist. Not everyone feels the calling to create or to serve the talents they’ve been given. Some people just enjoy the attention that comes with performing and would like to get famous doing it. Some are attracted to the idea of the rich, glamorous life they believe comes along with life in the music business.
So, my advice would be if you’re an artist, stick to your vision and stay true to your art and yourself always. Conduct yourself with integrity, surround yourself with positive and successful people who support and share your interests, regret nothing, learn from your mistakes and continue to grow in your craft and creativity. Some artists create work that can make them famous or earn them money so learn about the business and how to protect your interests.
“If you just want to be famous, then learn how that game is played and decide early what you’re willing to do and not do, how far you’re willing to go and for how long.If you want to be rich, get out of the music business.”
When your not Rockin the Stage your a Teacher tell us about that.
Teaching was an unexpected byproduct of the recession, and it has been a great addition to my musical life. It is another unique opportunity to pass what I was so fortunate to have been given along to people who want to experience music in their lives and that is profoundly rewarding.
What is coming up for Liz Melendez?
Another CD, some touring, teaching, writing, working… and most importantly, staying focused on gratitude and keeping life in balance. I’ve got some exciting shows coming up at the 120 Tavern and Music Hall, which is my local home base.