Bellingham Herald

Texas native Laura Overstreet's day job is teaching psychology at Whatcom Community College and sociology at Western Washington University. But she's never lost her love for country blues tunes and, after moving to Bellingham in 2007, she began performing at local nightspots here, including at the Wild Buffalo and the Honey Moon Winery. She's recorded two CDs, composes and is a single mom. She'll play at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23, at the Allied Arts Holiday Festival of the Arts, 1308 Cornwall Ave. Question: What's your background, musically? Answer: I remember enjoying family jam sessions with my extended family since I was 5 or 6. I took up the guitar at 11 and in junior high started playing and performing in a garage band called Southbound Train doing three-part harmony acoustic music. I later joined a duo and started playing keyboards. At that time I didn't play any country. I never even listened to country. After majoring in music in college for a couple of years, I decided to go on the road. I toured from the southern tip of Texas to northern Minnesota for almost three years and was coerced into playing country by the audiences at the resorts we played. I love working the audience and getting totally lost in the performance. Q: What about your academic career? A: After the tour, I decided to minor in music and major in psychology. I continued to play keyboards in a country dance band for several years. But after finishing my bachelor's degree, I went right into graduate school and finished a master's degree in sociology. I started teaching while in graduate school and music took a back seat during those busy days. I began a career in counseling in psychiatric hospitals and private practice. I continued to teach from time to time and eventually began work on a doctoral degree in sociology Q: Then back to music? A: I picked up the guitar and started writing songs again after completing most of my doctoral coursework. During that time I continued to teach college. Still, my heart wasn't really into country until the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou" came out. The music in that movie was very familiar to me. The tunes sounded like the ones I had played with my grandmother during those family jams. My current musical interest is in blues as well as country. I write some blues tunes and enjoy performing tunes from Freddie King and others. What I appreciate most about all the music I perform is that it's down to earth. It helps people connect. No pretenses. It's relaxed, comfortable and heart-felt. I love being able to play my originals as well as playing songs that make people look up, start to move, smile and sometimes even join in. Q: What's it like playing your tunes for audiences here? A: It's been interesting transplanting "Texas" music to the Pacific Northwest. I think the people in Bellingham are more familiar with classic rock or folk or jazz and less with country or country blues. It's almost like its "uncool" to like country. But then when they come out, they love it. I have a colleague who would chat with me for a few minutes each day as he was leaving a classroom we both taught in and I was getting setting up for class. Somehow the conversation turned to music and he found out that I played. I told him I was a singer/songwriter and played sort of country blues. I could see him turn off when he heard the word country. However, he eventually came down to see me perform at the Archer Ale House a couple of months ago and he's been back almost every Sunday night since. He told me how much he enjoyed the music. So I think a lot of people just think they're not supposed to like it, but when they hear it, they're sold. Q: Where do you play, locally? A: I have played Honey Moon Winery several times and done nothing but originals. I had a great time sitting in at the Edison Tavern with the Bo Diddlers and enjoyed playing my songs at the Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema this summer. I'm currently at Archer Ale House every Sunday night from 7:30 to 9:30 and we've got a good following there. I'm joined by Robert "Gold Tooth" Ray on bass, Dave McGuire on guitar and Mike Brodsky on harmonica. Q: What's fun for you in your spare time? A: Singing and writing songs is one of my favorite pastimes. Going places with my kids, Lizzie and Angie, is another. I also enjoy taking long walks (Bellingham is the city extraordinaire for that), cooking, trying out new restaurants, taking pictures and traveling as much as possible.

KISM

SOON ON LOCALS ONLY Keep checking in for updates on future guests This Week: Laura Overstreet started playing guitar and writing songs at 11-inspired by her grandmother who played Carter Family tunes and folk tunes. She began performing at 13 in duos and trios playing folk/rock and progressive country. After traveling a couple of years playing in a duo, she settled down to go to school and minored in music at the University of North Texas. She eventually had a family but kept playing as much as possible. Now transplanted to the Northwest, she provides additional support for songwriting and recording by teaching college. She also keeps busy raising two daughters.

The Bellingham Herald

JESSICA HARBERT THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Country artist Laura Overstreet has been playing music for most of her life. Starting at age 11, Overstreet was inspired by her grandma’s favorite tunes. Originally from Texas, Overstreet moved to Bellingham in 2006 and has since been playing all over town. Her smooth voice paired with her attitude gives her a confident and talented sound. Her 2000 release “As Is” got her back into the swing of her music after attending college in Texas. Her second album, “Sundays,” is set to be released in February. For her day job, Overstreet teaches psychology at Whatcom Community College, and she also taught for a bit at Western Washington University. She also enjoys spending time with her two daughters, Lizzie and Angie, who are students at Kulshan Middle School. Check out Overstreet performing Saturday at Honeymoon (in the alley behind Pepper Sisters restaurant) on State Street. Overstreet is playing with John Neighbor, Dan McDonald and Bob Caloca. The show starts at 8 p.m. For more on Overstreet’s music, go to www.lauraomusic.com.

Laura Overstreet covers the vocal spectrum and shows a mature ability to write songs that strike a chord in many people's lives. She is a new breed of singer/songwriter who knows where she'd been, where she wants to go while holding the audience's attention with her style.

Laura's project is one of the best I've worked on all year. What great singing and songwriting! It was a real treat to play on this record.