Farmington/Farmington Hills is home to many talented musicians, writers, craftspeople, and artists. Each week we will examine their work, process, and creations.
Laura Mendoza, former music director at School of Rock Farmington, talks about her band White Shag.
Tell me about your band? Who are you performing with, how long have you been working together?
We are a 3-piece hard rock band from the Detroit area. People say we sound like a mix of the MC5 meets Queens of the Stone Age meets Motorhead and we’re known for our live show. This past March we went on tour to play at SXSW in Austin, Texas and last year we won a Detroit Music Award for best hard rock band. We were also on Music Connection Magazine’s hot 100 unsigned artists. Right now we’re working on putting out an EP in September and then heading to the east coast for another tour.
The band consists of Laura Mendoza on lead vocals and bass, Jorge Cortez on lead guitar and vocals and Joe Leone on drums and vocals. We’ve been playing together for about two years now.
If I were to follow you around to hear music in the Detroit area, where would we go? Who would we see?
Well, we would probably head out to Hamtramck, Corktown or Ferndale. Just a few of the venues we hang out at are Lager House, the Loving Touch, the New Way, the Magic Stick, the New Dodge or Small’s. One of the better recent shows that we saw not too long ago was Fu Manchu with Electric Citizen (a band from Cincinnati) and Bison Machine, who are a local band. A few weeks ago we caught our friends the ILL Itches at the New Dodge. There’s a lot of music that goes down in Detroit. It’s a shame we don’t have more people in the city to be part of the audience.
What was your first instrument or musical training?
Laura: I’ve always been singing since I was 4 years old, but I’d have to say it was when I picked up the trumpet in 5th grade and started choir that year too.
Jorge: I started playing piano when I was 4 and hated it. Later on I picked up the guitar and stuck with that.
Joe: I started on piano and then took on the drums. A few years later i started singing.
What advice do you have for young or aspiring musicians?
Being a musician requires a lot of work and dedication. Chances, luck and “being discovered” really don’t happen anymore. You have to make your own opportunities and the only way to do it is with hard work. The band is a full time job. There are so many aspects involved that you have to almost be a jack of all trades in order to cover everything that needs to be done and even then it isn’t always enough. Deciding to be a musician is a big choice.
You can find more information, including music, blog, videos, photos and upcoming gigs at the White Shag web site.