Bluesdays is having a baby and they call it the Laurie Morvan Band.
A five-piece group from Southern California is the first new arrival to the 2022 Bluesdays season at the Village of Palisades Tahoe. It follows three shows with familiar faces of Chris Cain, Mark Hummel and The Blues Monsters.
“I’ve wanted to play Bluesdays for a long time and the next thing I know get a call,” Morvan told Tahoe Onstage. “When we’re doing targeted shows for a blues crowd, that’s when I’m at my best. I absolutely love it. I get to just wail away at the blues that I know everybody is loving. I am always so thrilled when we’re playing blues events because we get to stick to blues rock, rockin’ blues, whatever you want to call it.”
Morvan has a contingent of fans in Sacramento and this year is making waves at Lake Tahoe. She played at Big Blue Music & Blues festival at South Shore during a very chilly Memorial Weekend, guested at Buddy Emmer’s Tuesday Night Blues at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, and for the first time in more than a decade had a show in Reno at the Peavine Taphouse.
After the pandemic-caused hiatus, Movan’s live show schedule had more starts and stops then July 4 traffic on Highway 28. But the second half of 2022 is packed full and includes a seven-show run in Western Canada.
Morvan was destined to become a blueswoman.
“I grew up on Bittersweet Lane in New Lenox, Illinois, and dad walked out,” she said. “Is there more of a blues beginning than that?”
A fiery lead guitarist and prolific songwriter, Morvan’s recording career began in 1997.
Truckee’s Mighty Mike Schermer has been featured a few times and has performed with Morvan on a few occasions.
“She’s badass,” Schermer said. “She’s more in the blues-rock idiom but what I’ve always admired about Laurie is her energy. She just puts the pedal to the metal and really takes no prisoners.”
Morvan has been a badass in a lot of endeavors. And that’s due to her hard work.
A standout, multisport athlete in high school, Morvan received a scholarship to play volleyball at the University of Illinois. She earned a degree in electrical engineering. Her degree provided the opportunity to move to a warmer climate in southern California.
“I was recruited,” she said. “I was more of a rock star as an electrical engineering graduate of University of Illinois than I have ever been as a rock star. I was flown all over the country on interviews with engineering firms.”
Morvan worked three years at TRW, an aerospace corporation. She played in cover bands weeknights and weekends. An acoustic strummer, she had an epiphany after picking up an electric guitar.
“At 23 I said I want to play lead guitar,” she said. “I went into my boss and said I am leaving engineering and I was going to play music full time. He about fell out of his chair.”
Morvan applied the same work ethic to mastering guitar as she did with athletics and school. She would perform five or six days a week and practice three more hours each night.
“It’s the same drive,” she said. “It’s the same sort of stamina you have to have to do the hard, inglorious work of just practicing, studying, learning. Repeated practicing of those same things until you are flowing properly. Building blocks of playing the fun riffs that I want to play. Dedication to tiny details that make a difference between OK and great. It’s those little things.”
And the Illinois native finally discovered the blues after moving to California. She said Stevie Ray Vaughan was her gateway. And in typical blues style, she held on to her Stratocaster but had to sell her Les Paul to pay rent.
When it came time to make her first record, Morvan first went back to school to get a master’s degree in applied mathematics and got a teaching job to fund the production of an album. She’s taught college math now for 30 years and works at Cypress College in Orange County.
“I have two full-time careers,” she said. “It stabilized my income and I can tour all summer. Sometimes I am on the road driving 400 miles and I am grading calculus exams along the way.”
“Gravity,” released in 2018, is Morvan’s recording highlight. An all-original song filled album, “Gravity” was produced by Grammy winning drummer Tony Braunagel, who also has made records for Trampled Under Foot, Danielle Nicole, Curtis Salgado and Coco Montoya. Studio session all-stars Jim Pugh, Bob Glaub, Mike Finnigan and Barry Goldberg appear on the record.
Village at Palisades
6-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays
Bring your own chair
- July 5: Laurie Morvan Band
- July 12: Terry Hanck
- July 19: Dennis Jones Band
- July 26: Albert Castiglia
- Aug. 2: Aki Kumar
- Aug. 9: J.C. Smith
- Aug. 16: Studebaker John & The Hawks
- Aug. 23: Eddie 9V
- Aug. 30: Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings