Sara Butler | Editor
From ’70s psych-blues swagger and old school rock ‘n’ roll, to folk/acoustic and modern alternative pop, singer-songwriter Lauren Ruth Ward doesn’t assign a specific genre to her music.
“When someone asks me, I just say that I have texture,” Ward said. “I do love the [musical] runs but I have vibrato, and Eddie [her guitarist, Eduardo Rivera] likes to use the ’60s guitar tones. We like to drum with strumming patterns so it’s slightly tribal influence. It’s just high energy and I guess our version of rock and roll.”
The self-proclaimed “compartmentalist” moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Southern California three years ago. Currently, Ward is based in Los Angeles, working in the music scene for about a year and a half.
Ward will stop by Uptown to perform at Observatory North Park with Americana artist Shakey Graves on Sunday, June 24. Her debut performance at the iconic venue isn’t her first visit to Uptown music scene.
Her previous local concerts include two shows at Soda Bar — with Yip Yops and Somme on May 29; and Nicole Atkins in December 2017 — as well as at Casbah with Vista Kicks and Veronica Bianqui last September.
“I’m liking these 300 capacity venues – they’re kind of divey,” she said. “It’s very bar centric — and then like, ‘Oh, and it’s a venue?’ I like it, it gives me kind of like a Baltimore feeling.”
Though Ward loves the “divey” feel of Uptown’s bar/venue scene, she is thrilled to step on a bigger stage at the 1,000-person capacity Observatory North Park. She admitted that she “did her homework” on the restored 1939 theater before the show and follows the venue on Instagram.
“[Observatory] is super beautiful, and I love going to new places,” she said. “To open up for Shakey Graves — sold out, massive venue. We’re feeling very, very fortunate.”
In addition to her tour — promoting her new album “Well, Hell,” released last September — Ward also made an appearance at LA Pride Festival on June 9. Ward said the experience was “absolutely life-changing.”
Ward left her hometown on the East Coast, where she had a successful cosmetology business and male partner. However, she decided to pursue her love of music, landing her to the drastically different climate of Southern California.
“I could have very easily have gotten married to a man and had a kid,” she said. “I’m definitely pro-love, but my heart is queer. Coming out here and people just being a bit more easy and more free with people’s connection with love and other people — that was incredible and eye-opening.”
LIVE at LA Pride 2018! #JUSTBE
Posted by Lauren Ruth Ward on Saturday, June 9, 2018
“California’s very, very progressive,” she continued. “It’s super smart with the way that I think everyone should be looking at how we are allowed to love — there should be no limitations.”
Despite connecting with more “like-minded people,” she admits adapting to the West Coast standard is an ongoing journey.
“L.A. has taught me to unlearn certain thought patterns and behaviors,” she said. “I thought I was ‘pro-humanity’ […] realistically, you’re a product of your raising — yeah, that’s a fact. But that’s not a crutch though. You need to unlearn what is clearly a wrong way of thinking.”
This love and acceptance bleeds into her relationships with band members. She plays with her friends, but the nature of the music scene — “everyone’s in three different bands,” she laughed — means her amoeba group has shifted throughout the years. Yet she is understanding of everyone’s journey as they come and go into her life and music.
“It’s hard — this thing that we’re doing out here where we’re all fighting for our voice,” she said. “It’s nice when there’s maturity and communication and oodles of talent involved. It just makes for a community family.”
Ward’s current band on her tour consists of Rivera (guitar) and Dean Passarella (bass) — who have been “OG players” since Day 1 — along with Madi Vogt (drums). The four will be performing with her onstage at her upcoming Uptown gig.
“It just feels good to be playing with family,” she continued. “When friendship and the bond of playing music together are existent and they outlast hands of time.”
For Uptowners who can’t find last-minute tickets to Ward’s sold-out North Park show, she will also perform at the Ohana Festival in Dana Point on Sept. 29. To learn more about Ward or to view her tour schedule, visit laurenruthwardmusic.com.
—Reach Sara Butler at email@example.com.
Sara is the editor of San Diego Uptown News.