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Debbie Ritch
          I was born and raised in Tonawanda, NY. My interest in music began at the age of 9, when I received my first guitar for Christmas. Currently my musical interests lie mainly in the blues, with influences such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Debbie Davies, Joanna Connor and Buddy Guy, but I enjoy listening to and playing all styles of music. I've only been playing seriously (i.e., in a band) for the last 4 years or so. My current band Ethyl, is an offshoot from another band my bass player, drummer and myself were in about 4 years ago. We hooked up with a lead singer/guitarist who was doing a solo acoustic gig and Ethyl was formed. We currently do a mix of covers and original material, all of which is written by the lead singer. Our music is pretty much high energy rock. We released our debut CD, Ethyl, last November and are working on more originals for the next one. 
          My first 'real' guitar was a 1977 Fender Strat which I bought new, which I still have. I bought an Epiphone Les Paul Standard when I joined the first band because I needed a fuller sound. About 3 months ago, I was at an open blues jam and was invited up on stage. The guy running the jam let me use his PRS and I was hooked. I couldn't believe how that guitar played and sounded. A month later I went out and bought mine. I use it for all but 2 songs that we do, using the Les Paul with a slide. I play thru a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp and have a Zoom 1010 pedal and Vox Wah-Wah for effects.

 

Forum: Could you tell us a bit about what brought you into music and how you see that fitting in with the other parts of your life?

Debbie: Well, no one else in my family plays a musical instrument but there was always a love of music in my house. I'm the youngest of 3 and was exposed to all types of music growing up. 

Forum:  What are your musical interests and guitarist influences?

Debbie: I love all types of music but I'd have to say my first love is the blues. Buddy Guy, Albert King, Debbie Davies, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Going back to the first question, I remember my older sister constantly playing a Johnny Winter album. I was only 9 or 10 but I'd have to say that album was probably the biggest influence on me and wanting to play the guitar. 

Forum: Tell us about your choice of a PRS and related equipment, along with your reasons for choosing same.

Debbie: I had been looking at them for a while though I never actually played one. I had the chance one night at a blues jam when the guy running the jam invited me to play and let me use his PRS. That was all it took. I think only a month went by before I bought mine. I always wanted a Custom 24, bird inlays. The music store that I always deal with still had the one I had been eyeing up for a while so it didn't take much deciding on my part. 

Forum: What are some of the joys and problems you've experienced with being a part of an all-female group?

Debbie: We've been pretty lucky as far as not having any problems. We have to prove ourselves just like any other band. If anything, people don't expect us to sound like we do. I think they're expecting the "typical" girl band like the Go-Go's or something. But we're nothing like that. We get a lot of good feedback during the breaks. We play some pretty kick-ass rock'n roll/blues and people are pleasantly surprised by that. It's very cool to hear someone yell out a request for one of our original songs. We released our debut CD last November and it's been very well received by both our audience and the local music critics.

Forum: Can you talk a bit about what you see as your future direction in music?

Debbie: Ethyl is the first really serious band I've been in. There are four of us and though we all have different musical interests and styles, they seem to mesh well. We're all on the same page as far as what we want out of this band. I know that personally I have become a better musician as a result of it and would like to think that the future holds even bigger and better things.