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Elizabeth McQueen, Asleep at the Wheel

How would you describe your music?

"Asleep at the Wheel plays Western Swing, Big Band Jazz, Blues and Country. On my own I play a little of everything. Some Americana, country, roots pop, blues, some jazz and some rock and roll. Some originals and some covers."

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

In the Wheel I'm an employee, which means my role in anything outside the realm of live performance or studio recording is pretty limited. Within those realms I'm given pretty free reign to do what I feel. But I don't have any power over business decisions. In my own career, I'm in charge of everything from writing the songs, booking the gigs, marketing anything we do and leading the band.

Describe your gear.

With the Wheel I play a Gibson J-150. It's actually my boss' guitar. I have a wireless rig for the guitar. On my own I play a Gibson LC-1.

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

"Being a woman musician is definitely different from being a male musician. First off, there seems to be major differences in the early life of male and female musicians. All the guys I know who are pros spent a fair amount of their adolescence ensconced in their rooms, woodshedding. The really got into their instruments during that time. I only know a few women who had the same experience. That time of their lives is usually spent concerned with more social things. Women tend to come to the game later and with less musical experience than men, which makes them very often dependent on men to create the actual music, talk to other musicians and generally navigate the musical landscape. And also, women have kids. Not that men don't have children, but let's face it, it's different when you gestate and birth another human being. Your priorities shift in a huge way, one that can make a career in music seem less important. My husband and I had our first child almost 15 months ago. And I'm extremely lucky, because my husband is the drummer for the Wheel, so we've both been able to stay on the road and continue playing music. We simply bought another vehicle and brought the baby along (she was 6 weeks old when we went on our first tour). It's been amazing, but pretty grueling. And the guys in the band think we're nuts. Because those of them who have kids, well it never occurred to them to bring their kids along on the road. They missed first steps and soccer games and recitals and pretty much everything, so they could continue playing music. Me, if I had to make a choice between my baby and the road, there would be no choice. I'd choose watching my daughter grow up, hands down. Luckily my husband and I have reached a compromise, but many women don't have such flexibility. So careers and creativity may veer off track during the childbearing years. "

Related Themes: The First Time

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

I see the next generation of girls approaching music, especially tradtionally male instruments like guitar and drums, in a much less timid manner. Which makes my heart soar.

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

The best advice I got was from my male musician friends, who encouraged me to learn as much as I could and become as capable as I could. Not having to be dependent on men to express my ideas or create is huge.

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

I gravitated towards guitar because I wanted to be able to accompany myself. Also, I've learned the vocabulary of theory through guitar, which I think is crucial to making your own music and playing with other people. Being able to speak the same language as the people (mostly men) I play with is huge. Chick singers do not normally command a lot of respect in that area. Plus, you can get a lot more done.

Related Themes: The First Time