guitar playing has been compared to everyone from Carlos Santana to Stevie Ray Vaughan and
her voice has been compared to everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Janis Joplin. After arriving
on the music scene as a solo artist a few years ago, Liz has established herself as one of
the most exciting and promising new artists on the music horizon.
Considered by many to be one of the top lead guitarists in the country, her live
performances demonstrate her versatility, often paying homage to her influences as a
highlight to her own clearly defined lead guitar and vocal style. Many believe Liz's
guitar prowess alone puts her far ahead of her contemporaries but combined with the
strength of her vocal ability and her skills as a songwriter she is a genuinely unique and
Chicana y Chingona
Born and raised in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Liz moved to Atlanta in
the late 1990s to continue her burgeoning music career as a formidable guitarist,
vocalist, songwriter and performer. While she prides herself on the strengths of her lead
and rhythm guitar proficiency in almost any genre, she is most often compared to Stevie
Ray Vaughan and she does a full Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute show about every 2 months to
pay homage to the man who changed modern blues guitar forever.
As an independent recording and performing artist she has proven to be a passionate and
driven individual; writing, arranging and producing her own releases and is an
uncompromising advocate for her artistic creations and performing career. With two
original CD releases now to her credit, Liz's talent as a songwriter has not gone
unnoticed. Both CDs have been praised for the quality and substance of the guitar work and
songwriting and nearly every track on Mercy and Sweet Southern Soul quickly became fan
favorites recieving accoldes in publications worldwide and receiving airplay on several
radio stations across the globe.
Known far and wide as an intensely dynamic performer, Melendez has garnered a sizable
following touring the southeast and beyond. She has headlined major festivals such as
Riverbend Music Festival's Bessie Smith Strut in Chattanooga (the only female headliner in
Riverbend history besides Koko Taylor), and co-headlined major festivals such as the Cape
Fear Blues Festival in Wilmington, N.C. and the Blues 2003 Festival in New York and been
invited to open for artists like the Nappy Roots. She has performed on stage with such
notables as Bob Margolin, Henry Butler, Francine Reed, Hubert Sumlin, E.G. Kight, Chris
Duarte and Candye Kane.
The 70s at 120 Decibels
Growing up, Liz was taught and heavily influenced by her father Dan Melendez, who, she
admits proudly in the liner notes of her most recent CD, "lovingly blasted at
deafening volume the great album rock and blues of the 70s during her tender formative
years." Liz dedicates all of her musical pursuits to her dad who passed away shortly
after the release of Liz's first CD Mercy in 2001.
At age 5, she heard the guitar intro to Freddie King's I Wonder Why and her fascination
with the electric guitar began. Her father started teaching her rock and roll and blues
standards like Johnny B. Goode and Hideaway and challenged her early on to learn Bill
Doggett's Honky Tonk. While much of what he taught her seemed to make no sense, he assured
her as if he could see into her future, "This will all mean something very important
to you someday." And he was right. By the time Liz had discovered the rockin'
Brit-blues of Led Zeppelin, the harder rock of bands like Black Sabbath, the out-of-body
Latin rock of Santana, and the life-changing Texas shredding of then new-comer Stevie Ray
Vaughan, she found that learning their songs came very naturally as her father had
equipped her with the tools she needed to tackle just about any style of music. Much of
the earliest techniques and guitar fundamentals Liz learned from her father can still be
heard in her music to this day.
"Probably more important to me than the guitar methods themselves," she
emphasizes, "my father taught me the fundamentals of what it meant to be a great
musician. He was an exceedingly intellectual man and he drove home his philosophy that
becoming a great rhythm guitarist was an essential part of being a great lead guitarist
and that the importance of learning to be a good support player as part of an ensemble was
paramount in my pursuit of becoming a great musician."
Her father's support and wisdom are the basis for much of Liz's conviction. "He
always told me 'Liz, never be afraid to get on stage with anyone. Don't ever be
intimidated. You can hang with anybody out there.' He was always saying things like
that." she remembers. "One afternoon he was listening to me practice in the next
room. I don't remember what I was playing, but it was probably loud and wild. After a
minute he came in and said matter-of-factly, 'Liz, you are going to be one of the best
guitar players on the planet someday.' It was a very powerful thing to say not because I
think I am one of the best or that I think I will be one of the best but because when he
said it I knew I didn't have to be it, I just had to believe it."
Liz says the guidance and support of her father combined with the unconditional support of
her mother has been the key. "My mother has to be the hippest and most enlightened,
intelligent and tolerant person I know. She put up with all my early band practices,
endured some of the loudest music known to man, and my late-night tests of the Ampeg V4's
maximum volume. She has always supported and encouraged my music and is always the voice
of reason when things go topsy-turvy on me in my music business endeavors. I could not
have survived the challenging life of a music artist without her support and counsel. I
can honestly say that everything I know and everything I've become I owe to being blessed
with great parents."
While she focuses much of her time on her musical pursuits, Liz has vastly varying talents
and interests. She is an accomplished writer and graphic artist, designing her own web
site, CD covers, logos and promotional materials as well as designing web sites and CD
covers for only her closest musical friends such as Atlanta folk legend Caroline Aiken and
blues diva Diane Durrett.
Liz is also an avid golfer whose game, while impressive, is perpetually in varying states
LIZ MELENDEZ BAND
Review by Jesse Fox Mayshark
I have a friend who once told a young Alison Krauss that she was a terrific fiddle player.
And then, for some reason, he added, "I mean, for a girl..." Alison walked away
in disgust and my friend felt really, really stupid. He meant it as a compliment, but it
came out all wrong. The fact is, string-instrument virtuosity is still a primarily male
trait; women, by nature or nurture or just plain old male chauvinism, whether in bluegrass
or blues, tend to get confined to rhythm playing. Liz Melendez, an Atlanta-based blues
singer and guitarist, probably hears things like that all the time. Because while her
throaty vocals and sharp, moody songwriting would be enough to distinguish her, she really
can play the hell out of an electric guitar. Even more than her few female blues-guitar
peers, Melendez combines grinding passion with fiery precision. The most obvious influence
on her playing is Stevie Ray Vaughn, and it's a mantle she carries ably (she also carries
off some muy convincing Santana-flavored Latin playing). She and her band treated
Knoxvillians to a reportedly storming show on New Year's Eve at Sassy Ann's, and now she's
back for a double header. From 5-8 p.m., Melendez is the feature of the week at the
Knoxville Museum of Art's "Alive After Five" series. Then, from 9 p.m.-1 a.m.,
she'll be back at Sassy Ann's. Catch her at one or both stops. She rocks and swaggers and
moans and sizzles as well as any current blues player-of any gender.
BLUES MATTERS MAGAZINE - UK
LIZ MELENDEX BAND
Liz's previous CD, Mercy, was reviewed in issue 6, here we have her new one and how she
has grown - the sound is fuller and the voice stronger! This is one fine album, if you
like the rocky side then here is a lady for you. The title track is catchy and the voice
soulful. No More Love has a building intro to power level and lift off! Like warming up
your car then taking off on a hard drive. Drink From My Cup is Liz in ballad form, neat
organ here and electro acoustic plays neatly, Caza De El Nino is a short instrumental,
Justice County lifts to an emotional climax then fades, Do My Thing has a good groove,
Battle Cry Rhythm has an interesting start and climactic tribal sense about it, eerie but
hooks you in. What a great album!
Mija Magazine, by Roberta M. Rosas
While walking in to a venue your ears would lead you to believe that you were attending a
Santana concert, but we are entering into a new era when it comes to Latinas and guitars.
Liz Melendez, whom I refer to as the ?Latina Santana? has been around for years. Born and
raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Liz began playing guitar at the tender age of 5 with
her father (Dan Melendez) teaching her rock & roll and blues standards. ?He really
taught me about music, not just how to play the instruments, but how to be a good
"musician". Just like her father, Liz listened to a lot of blues & blues
rockers of the 70?s as a child. As the vocal/guitarist area Bonnie Raitt was a big
influence to Liz as well as Carlos Santana, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi
Hendrix for solo guitar players. Liz was also inspired as a song writer by Paul Simon and
Van Morrison. More...
Blues Revue Magazine
BLUES BITES - by Jeff Calvin
Liz Melendez Band
Sure to give Deborah Coleman some competition in the years ahead is the Liz Melendez Band.
The songs and arrangements on Mercy (self-release) mine the same groove; meaty modern
blues with tough-yet tender singing and effective soloing. Out of Duluth, Georgia,
Melendez is an accomplished guitarist with a nice rhythm touch; she's also got an
appealing voice. With those tools and some simple arranging touches, she and her band
manage to make straight-on shuffles like "Don't Wanna Leave You Alone" and the
Jimmy Reed cop "I Never Do" fresh and interesting. More unusual tracks, like the
tricky instrumental "Cisco's Revenge," will keep you on your toes. One to watch.