A Baltimore hairstylist turned indie California frontwoman, a lover of antique shopping and a connoisseur of ‘50s to ’70s rock ‘n’ roll, Lauren Ruth Ward makes you feel like you’ve just stepped into Woodstock after pressing play on her music.
The Americana rocker is bringing her classic sound to San Francisco’s The Chapel this Friday night. Ward’s classic rock vibes reach into every facet of her life — the artist can wax poetic about her love for vintage clothes from the ‘60s and ‘70s. She did just as much in her interview with The Daily Californian, chatting about her music, fans and “the machine” while searching for timeless finds among dated trinkets and classic denim jackets.
“I might as well just not bring anything to the next tour because I find everything at antique malls,” Ward said. “My style is sentimental.”
This style extends beyond her clothing, a certain sentimentality imbuing itself into every track Ward releases. On their fourth tour and first headlining tour, Ward and her band will perform songs from new album Well, Hell with what Ward calls “lots of energy and rock ‘n’ roll” for her audience to experience.
“I’ve been one of the lucky ones that people are picking up what I’m putting down,” Ward said. “Every show, you treat it the same way — you aim to have fun. You still put the same effort into it and still go into it with the same intention, to go with the flow.”
Well, Hell is the perfect 30-minute taste of the Americana aura the group exudes — featuring energetic tambourine beats, raspy vocals and vulnerable lyrics. The four-person group of Eduardo Rivera, Livia Slingerland, India Pascucci and Ward formed shortly after Ward moved to Los Angeles from her life in Maryland.
“It was more thought-out than luck,” Ward said on the formation of her band almost two years ago. “I kind of just like to let everything go naturally. … Once I got that vibe, it was like, ‘Hey, this is something I’d like to explore’… I still take it really seriously — I need to be relaxed with who I’m playing music with.”
In the past year, Ward was included in Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist and featured in an American Apparel campaign, all on top of releasing her first full-length album in February.
The album, full of spunky charm and raw guitar rhythms, wonderfully complements the folksy voice of the frontwoman. The female powerhouse, comparable to the classic gritty, femme-rocker vibes of the Dixie Chicks or Stevie Nicks, is just getting started in bringing her old school sound to the music scene. She seems nothing but excited for the world to finally be able to hear all her songs now that her album is out.
“I feel incredible,” Ward said. “It’s fun to get your message out there. … It changed so quickly when I started writing with (Rivera) — I started running around onstage and (fans would) come to the merch table and all I’d have is an EP. It was feeling really frustrating for me.”
While she might emit a cool passivity as she croons “I am not your honey” in “Make Love To Myself” off Well, Hell, Ward states that all of her music is really for her fans.
“The connection with the fans, isn’t that what this is all about?” Ward asked. “It sounds so fucking cheesy, but it’s a really special thing to tell people your stories and have people listen. That’s what this is all about, that connection.”
Considering the Haight-Ashbury spirit San Francisco is known for, the band is sure to be welcomed with peace signs and gluten-free love. While this may not be the singer’s first time performing in the Bay Area, playing at The Chapel is a new venture for this “baby band,” as Ward affectionately dubbed the group.
“It’s one of the bigger venues that we’ve played in San Francisco. I can’t wait,” Ward said. “I’m excited to just be in San Francisco — that in itself is exciting. I love new places and I love traveling.”
Embracing the lifted weight of the album release and new tour era, Ward is feeling positive about her growth as a songwriter and performer in just the last year.
“We’ve got the whole album that we’re gonna play, and we just want everyone to have fun,” Ward said.