Echo Park Rising is the musicians music festival. What started out as an intimate, DIY pop-up event to showcase local talent in the burgeoning East Side music scene has risen to become one of Los Angeles most popular music festivals.
Now, in its seventh year, the four-day festival (Aug. 17-20) has gotten bigger and better (over 400 bands will perform this year), yet remained true to itself and the musicians and fans that have supported the local indie scene, unlike say the FYF Festival which is still great, but almost unrecognizable from its early punk rock roots.
Lauren Ruth Ward is what Echo Park Rising is all about. A Baltimore transplant, who came to LA to pursue her musical dreams, she is a hairstylist by day and a “Blue Collar Sex Kitten” by night, prowling around local stages like Robert Plant and Janis Joplin’s love child, belting out folk, rock, soul-bearing songs that connect both on a visceral and visual level.
I chatted with Ward about what it feels like to “perform” on stage, backyard festivals, and the long line of three named artists she’s following.
Crave: There’s a vulnerability and power to your voice and songs. How do you tap into and balance the two so well?
Lauren Ruth Ward: Most songs, I’ll purposefully try to use all parts of my voice. My songwriting however is a reflection of what I’ve gone through. I would say I am strong (emotionally) and comfortable with being vulnerable/exploiting my truths.
You’re not just a singer, but a performer in the vein of Robert Plant or Janis Joplin. Put us in your shoes when you’re on-stage.
I love our songs, so I enjoy singing them. Our drummer, India, fuels my dance moves. A little over a year ago when Eduardo and I wrote our first songs, me playing guitar wasn’t necessary – that’s when I started dancing. Having my hands free is still new to me.
What’s the most memorable thing you’ve done that shocked you?
I haven’t shocked myself but I do remember the first time I got down on the floor (at Dirty Laundry, April 2016). My friend Matt Steinberg, an amazing photographer, had gotten a photo of it and I looked at it like ‘who is that girl?’.
— Lauren Ruth Ward (@laurenruthward) June 7, 2016
Was there a moment earlier in your life where you knew music/performing was going to be it for you?
I always enjoyed it. I never thought I would ever make a career out of it. Writing songs served as a cathartic release only few people in my life knew I could “sing”.
As one of the leading voices in the local scene, what makes Echo Park Rising special?
EPR is so great. Personally, it was one of the first “real” shows I did (she also played it in 2016). It lead me to supporters and connections I’ve needed to get where I am today. It’s also free. So free love from your community = win.
How does the LA music scene compare to your hometown of Baltimore?
Baltimore offers beautiful gatherings of this nature as well. Two faves: 89.7 WTMD Thursdays in the park where I met my fiancé (singer/songwriter LP) in 2014 and Artscape, a music, food, art, (festival) that runs through blocks and blocks in Baltimore Proper. Both are free too 🙂
You’re active on Instagram. What’s something that people who follow you wouldn’t know?
My entire life aside from my music. Ha! I have a perfect niece named Mila, I love cooking, knitting, crocheting, sewing and I work in a salon four days a week. I’m not hiding this life, I just choose to keep my Instagram solely about my music. With occasional snaps of my fur child, Orson Johnny Valentine.
There are many legendary artists with three names. Who’s your favorite?
Jessica lea Mayfield, John Paul Jones, Laura Jean Anderson <3
Lauren Ruth Ward appears at Echo Park Rising: Sat. Aug. 19 at 7:30 at the Echo. For more info on the free, mostly all ages shows at Echo Park Rising go HERE.