Singer, songwriter and bass guitarist Laura Love has always traveled her own musical path.
She started her professional career at 16 in an unlikely fashion — performing jazz and pop standards in the Nebraska State Penitentiary — before cofounding several bands, establishing a solo career and opening for the likes of John Lee Hooker, Lyle Lovett, Bo Diddley, Karla Bonoff and Elayne Boosler.
On Friday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m., Love will play a CD release show at The Palms Playhouse for “She Loved Red,” accompanied by guitarist Terry Hunt.
Earlier in her career, Love made her mark starting in the late 1980s/early ‘90s with such bands as the witty feminist quartet Venus Envy before concentrating on her solo career.
Love weaves her own musical genres by blending disparate types of music.
Call it what you will — folk/funk? African/Appalachian? House/Celtic? — the result is at once individual and deeply American.
Love took nearly a decade off the touring circuit to live off grid, grow her own food and raise her daughter.
She felt “compelled to get back on the road, reach out to other human beings, spread kindness and try to heal,” from what she has described as a “savage couple of years” which left her battling to recover from a brutal assault, followed by the sudden suicide of her beloved sister, Lisa.
Now, she’s returning to the stage to continue where she left off.
Last year, Love exploded back onto the festival scene, taking the Kate Wolf, Strawberry, Valhalla and Philadelphia Folk Music Festivals by storm. At these performances she and her guitarist, Terry Hunt, showcased a new batch of songs.
Love has expanded her story-rich, socially-conscious repertoire to include field hollers, Civil Rights-era songs and gospel music into her deep catalogue of original songs. The resulting album is the just-released CD “She Loved Red.”
In addition to her musical accomplishments, Love wrote a harrowing but hopeful memoir, which was published by Hyperion Books in 2004. “You Ain’t Got No Easter Clothes” chronicles her chaotic childhood with a suicidal and schizophrenic single mother.
When her mother was confined to mental institutions, Love and her sister bounced around living in orphanages, foster homes, convents, and homeless shelters.
Their biological father — jazz saxophonist Preston Love who worked with the Count Basie Orchestra, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday and Ray Charles — was busy with his career and his wife and five other children and was not present in Love’s life.
Although wrenching, the tale of survival is laced with Love’s trademark wit. Love recently published a new follow-up book, “Nights in Tents,” about her year of traveling with the Occupy Movement in 2011.
Tickets for Love’s Feb. 16 show are $20 and are available online via The Palms’ website, at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland and at the door if the show is not sold out.
For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com and lauralovemusic.com.