As the Lauren Mitchell Band prepares to go out on the road, specifically to Memphis to compete in the next levels of the Blues Festival competition there are so many questions I had about how does this work with all these people, equipment, rough schedules and also, knowing Lauren, when do they eat? This and Q and A I had with her and you can hear her humor and tenacity about how badly she and her band want to come away as THE WINNERS!
Q. Tell me and all who don’t know, what is the Suncoast Blues Society and when did you become a member. What are the benefits?
A. The Suncoast Blues Society (SBS) was founded in 1997 and has been supporting Tampa Bay’s Blues scene very well ever since. The board of directors are all volunteers who do what they do for the love of the blues. The SBS helps to keep the community informed about blues concerts, festivals, and other events going on here in the Bay Area. They also sponsor a few live blues shows on a monthly basis, like their current “Soul Food Sundays” partnership with Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe. Ella’s serves up some great southern soul food while an SBS member band plays the blues for the crowd … what could be better? It’s easy and inexpensive to become a member. Just go to www.suncoastblues.org and click on the “Become A Member” button, or you can sign up in person at area blues festivals, partner shows, and other events where you see the SBS booth. The benefits of being a member are great. You are always “in the know” about the best blues in Tampa Bay, you receive a copy of the SBS newsletter “The 12 Bar Rag”, get weekly emails detailing upcoming blues shows, and, on top of all that, you get to meet some awesome people at the shows who are all into the blues!
Q. Do you consider this event to be a pivotal point in your career, and what do you hope, at the very best, will happen as a result of winning? Because I had a talk with God and put in a good word for you!
A. I definitely consider competing in the 30th International Blues Challenge (IBC) a pivotal point in my career. The slogan on the IBC program is “5 Days of Blues and Schmooze” … Meaning, the “who’s who” of the blues world will be at this event. This competition will put The Lauren Mitchell Band (LMB) in front of record executives, A&R people, booking agents, talent buyers, and more … all of whom are dedicated to the blues genre. Our performance at the IBC will be a way for us to showcase our talents to all of those folks … and hopefully get us noticed! And should we win (which is what we’re going to do!) we will play on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, several major festivals all over the U.S., and we’ll receive national recognition that will put us in a league with some of the top blues bands in the world. So yes, it’s a game changer for us.
Q. I see that you will be traveling 1800 miles round trip. What are the ways you pass the time during the drive? Is it a good time to collaborate on writing?
A. Honestly, in the past, we’ve all just kind of talked & told stories. The time in the van is more about camaraderie & fun than anything else. On the last tour, though we did work up a new song and Howlin’ Bob even made a chart for it. So, it just kind of depends on where our heads are at. Mostly, we eat a lot of bad “road food” & laugh.
Q. Would gas cards be a good gift for someone to donate?
Q. What size are those sexy red shoes, and in case someone wants to buy you a pair, what size should they be?
A. Well, that’s a tough question … I’m actually a size 10.5 and most designers don’t make that size. So the rule of thumb for me is this: if they’re open toed, sandals, or material that will stretch (leather, cloth, etc) I can wear a 10. If they are high end fashion shoes, I look for an 11 – those tend to run small. And a new pair of red shoes would be a wonderful thing to take to Memphis (the higher the heel the better … no platforms though, I’m a klutz!). I am partial to Christian Louboutin due to the red soles)
Q. Your next fund raising event is on December 12th at Ace’s Live Music, Bradenton. Will this be representative of your material for Memphis?
A. We will play from 8 pm – 11pm and the show will be a NON-SMOKING show. It’s $10 at the door & 100% of the money collected goes directly to us to help fund our trip. We will also be debuting the set that we’ll be taking to Memphis with us that night. So if anyone wants to get an idea of what we’ll be doing at The IBC’s, the show at Ace’s will be a great way to do that. ALSO: Should anyone from out of town, or who can’t make it to the show want to contribute, they can do it via mail by sending a check made out to The Lauren Mitchell Band to: Suncoast Blues Society. P.O. Box 4232, Tampa 33677 Attention: James Randolph. You can also pay via PAYPAL. And thanks for your donations!
Q. The competition starts out with 200 bands. On January 21st the semi-finals will pare down the competition to 28 bands. I can’t imagine how nerve-wracking that will be. And the competition is an international one, so you’ll be competing against bands from all over the world. How do you handle this type of pressure, waiting to find out if you will be amongst the final 9 to play at the Orpheum Theater?
A. I am used to pressure and typically do well in a situation where the stakes are high. I just do my best to stay as calm as possible & know that God already has the plan in place. So whatever happens, it’s happening for a reason … HIS reason. I just have to trust that. It can be hard, especially when I want to win so badly (I’m a pretty competitive person). All I know is that the band & I will be as prepared as possible and that’s all we can do. A friend once told me that there is no such thing as LUCK … LUCK is really just PREPARATION meeting OPPORTUNITY. This is our opportunity & I plan to be as prepared as possible. I can’t ask for anything more than that the guys & I give our best.
Q. When it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, what is it that keeps you forging ahead and keep on keepin’ on?
A. I guess you could say that it’s my desire to be the best at what I do. I am always finding new ways to use my voice & to perfect the music & the performance. The funny thing is, is that it will NEVER be perfect & I know that. There is always something to learn or discover when you’re making art or any kind. It’s not about fame & fortune … even though those are things that come along with being the best in the entertainment industry. It’s more about the journey to get to the place where I’m at the top of my game … and even then to continue working on it!
Q. Is the band like a family? How important are your relationships with the other band members?
A. It is kind of like a family. We all have our own lives, but when we come together it’s wonderful. We all have our specific functions & quirks … and that’s what makes it work! I love all my guys. They are a big part of why I can do what I do. I try to listen to their concerns & ideas with an open heart & mind when they arise. And in turn, they listen when I express what I need & they usually (they ARE men, after all!) do their best to give it to me. I know any one of them would follow me to the end of the Earth if I asked them. It’s a wonderful thing to know I have their support & confidence behind me. It’s a pretty special relationship & I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Break a Leg, LMB! We’re here praying and cheering you on!