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Once again we’ve made it through to March and this year’s International Women’s Day. Haters might say we don’t need it, and how can we be equal if men don’t men have a day of their own? Well, men don’t tend to get grabbed and get abuse shouted at them when walking down the street, they don’t get paid less because of their gender, and you know, they don’t have to give birth either so, yeah, we kinda deserve this day – we can grow a human inside us but in some eyes not even that makes us good enough, yikes! Anyway – enough politics for our end, let’s chat music.

At Orange we’ve got quite a few women working for the company such as myself, my name is Ella and I do freelance content creation and artist relations, plus a bunch of other ladies in our offices keeping this ship afloat as well as the wonderful female artists we endorse. Now, there might not be a secret that rock and guitar music might be slightly more male dominated but that doesn’t mean that it’s a boys club, there’s a bunch of rad ladies out there, and today we’ll be shining a light on a few of them:

Orianthi

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Orianthi’s got a pretty spectacularly impressive resume, having performed for Steve Vai at the age of 15, and been asked to jam on stage with Carlos Santana at 18. Her big breakthrough came in 2009 when she played lead guitar for Carrie Underwood at the Grammys, which led to Michael Jackson reaching out to her, inviting her to join his band for his “This is it” concert series, which unfortunately fell through due to his death. Since then, she’s played with Alice Cooper, as well as releasing various solo albums as well as winning the award for “Breakthrough Guitarist of the Year” 2010 by Guitar International Magazine.

Hannah Wicklund, Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin’ Stones

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Despite her young age of 21, Hannah Wiklund, the soulful blues guitarist that could probably fit the description of the love child Janis Joplin and Hendrix never had, has got a remarkable 2000 shows behind her. Hannah was gifted a guitar from her dad an an early age, and had her first ever The Steppin’ Stones band practice back in 2005, with the first ever song they played being Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” By the time she finished high school at 16 they had already played over a thousand gigs together. The band released their debut album last year, and are currently touring and gigging, as they’ve always done.

Thao Nguyen, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down

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Thao Nguyen is a guitarist and banjo player and the front woman of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, a San Francisco based alternative folk rock band. She started playing music around the age of 11, and ended up starting a country pop duo with one of her friends. Shortly after she began performing acoustic solo shows, before eventually forming Thao & the Get Down Stay Down with fellow students. Thao’s lyrics are often about relationships and childhood, with some crossing over into politics. She has also been featured in the 2017 documentary “Nobody Dies: A Film about a Musician, Her Mom and Vietnam”, which follows Thao and her mum as they visit Vietnam, Thao for the first time, and her mum for the first time since the Vietnam war, where she is faced with the two conflicting cultures that helped shape her and her music.

Laura Cox, The Laura Cox Band

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Laura’s career got a kickstart in 2008 after joining Youtube and sharing videos of herself playing guitar, the response was overwhelming and she quickly built up a following which has now reached over 363k followers and 80 million views. Due to her online success, she formed The Laura Cox Band, which is influenced by Southern legends Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top as well as Aussie rockers AC/DC. There was no other musicians in her family when she was growing up, but hearing her dad play Dire Straits and AC/DC records she felt inspired and intrigued to play that music herself, and was shortly after gifted a guitar for Christmas. The rest is, as they say, history.

Becky Blomfield, Milk Teeth

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MILK TEETH bassist Becky grew up in a music loving household with a musical and saxophone playing dad who regularly  However, it wasn’t until the age of 11 that she found her own taste thanks to bands such as Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, which are two of the bands that led here to where she is today. Influenced by the above, punk band MILK TEETH was born in 2013 and have been playing together ever since, although with a few line up changes along they way. The band’s latest release is the single “Stain” which was out just before Christmas, and brings to mind bands such as Hole and Nirvana.

Who are you, and what are you about?
My name is Steve Bello, and I was born at an early age. Been a guitar player for 38 years, turned professional in 1988, and have been a teacher for 21 years as well. I’ve had my own band, in various incarnations, since 2003, and recorded six albums to date. Right now, my line-up features bassist Jimmy Donegan and drummer Tommy Irwin. I released my sixth album back in December 2015 called LAYERS OF TIME, which can be streamed and purchased on stevebellorocks.com
So it’s been nearly 40 years since you picked up the guitar, do you remember what sparked your interest and made you do so?
I heard Led Zeppelin when I was four years old, thanks to my aunt, not that she was aware of it at the time. My grandfather was a jazz guitarist way back when, so while I liked that there was a guitar player in the house, I wanted to play heavy rock from the start. Grew up listening to Zep, Queen, Aerosmith, Kiss. Started learning guitar at age 9 but didn’t take it seriously until I saw Ritchie Blackmore on MTV smashing his guitar, and seeing videos of Jimi Hendrix lighting his Strat on fire. Both of those moments made me think “I have to play guitar for life!” I’ve never smashed or burned one…yet.
Having been a professional guitarist for nearly three decades I’m sure this is a tricky one, but is there any highlights that sticks out in your career?
Getting endorsed with Ibanez guitars back in 2003 was a major life-changer. I’ve had small victories along the way. Opening for Uli Roth at Starland Ballroom in 2012 was another biggie. And then when I played with TM Stevens and TC Tolliver in Germany in 2014, I saw that as a huge boost. Opened for King’s X recently at Stone Pony, so that’s another nice notch in my bedpost. 
What do you look for in an amp?
First of all, the tone has to hit me the right way. I don’t like futzing with too many knobs and controls, just want to get a good clean and solid rock sounds out of the box. There has to be versatility too. Having just one staple sound isn’t enough for me personally.
You’ve mentioned before that your daughter introduced you to Orange – clearly you raised her well – does music run in the family?
She unknowingly introduced me to Orange, let’s put it that way. She plugged an Ibanez guitar into a Rockerverb 50, and as soon as she hit that low E string, I said “Gimme that guitar!” Music does run in my family, for sure. Emma was a bass player but now she’s more focused on singing and studying music theory. My son Julian plays clarinet in high school band, and was fooling around on drums for a bit. 
Can you tell us about your relationship and experiences with Orange?
I’ve had nothing but amazing experiences and relationships with Orange since I started writing to Alex back in 2013. I got to meet him at NAMM 2014, and he introduced me to Cliff Cooper. I plugged into the CR120 head in the demo room and was sold. Ever since then, Alex has been prompt with returning my emails and helping me get the right gear in my hands. And he likes my cat Linus too.
What’s your dream set up?
I have all Ibanez guitars, main ones are my 7-strings, but I have some 6s for other gigs. For amps, I have the CR120 head into the PPC212OB cabinet. Also have a CR35RT combo as well as the CR20. And I had to get a Micro Terror because it’s just too damn cool! As for pedals, I have Morley, Digitech, Electro-Harmonix, Boss, Ibanez, and my signature Nuclear Paradise pedal designed by Checkered Pedals. Why all of this? Because it makes my legs look longer…oh and it sounds good too. I also stick to Von York strings, and my signature Spectraflex guitar cable called BelloFlex.
You also teach music, what would be your advice for people wanting to get into playing?
Find a good lawyer after you learn your first E chord. From there, learn as much as you can, as best as you can. You will have the one staple genre that moves you the most but it’s good to dance around other platforms. 
I’ve seen you’ve got quite a few shows lined up at the start of the year, how is the rest of 2017 looking? Are you working towards a new record?
Got a couple of shows lined up in 2017, working on getting more of course. I have 11 new songs written and demoed for my next album, so if all goes well, I will begin recording in the Summer of 2017 and release the album in the Winter.
Last words of wisdom?
Never cook bacon with your shirt off. 

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