Bex Marshall, whose first name is short for Rebecca, is a blues artist with a knack for finger picking, slide guitar and writing her own songs. And if being a female blues artist doesn't make her stand out enough, she's also from London.
"I don't like to be predictable," she says, laughing. "There's a lot of women guitarists, but not so many people who do particularly what I do. You find a lot of women now who sing and they play, but if they do both, they don't songwrite. I'm coming in on a strong level, a jack-of-all-trades sort of thing."
While Marshall says blues is considered a "cool" genre in the United Kingdom, she is currently on her second U.S. tour, which brings her to Stargazers Theatre and Event Center on Thursday.
"When people love blues, they'll fight tooth and nail to say they love it, but I do believe there's more of a passion for it in the U.S.," she says. "It's where it was born."
Marshall's love of music was sparked by two of her uncles. She says one was a guitarist and singer in the 1960s whose performances got her into live music. Another uncle had an expansive record collection Marshall says she dived into.
Marshall, who turns 40 on the first day of her U.S. tour ("40 is the new 30," she says and laughs), picked up guitar when she was 9 and began learning classical music. In her teens, she says, she got into rock and roots music, which progressed into Marshall's love of the blues.
Her blues music is laced with ragtime influences, which is an American genre of music popular in the early 1900s known for its syncopated rhythms. However, she says her mood dictates her style.
"There could be some slide and ragtime or it could be some picking, like a banjo sort of ragtime," Marshall says. "It could be like a rock-blues-ragtime."
Critics all over the world have commented on her music. She says the closest description she's ever heard is that it's like "Bonnie Raitt and Led Zep jamming in an everglade moonshine joint," though Marshall's main focus is on her songwriting.
"You have to start with a good song and then you can play it and perform it however you like, to whatever beat or whatever rhythm, but it's all about the song," she says. "And then you can add the fun bits, the character, into the song."
She toured the United States after her first album, "Kitchen Table," was released in 2008, and says she got a good response. It reached No. 20 in the USA national Americana Music Association Chart, according to her website.
This tour will promote her second album, "The House of Mercy," which was nominated for the Best Blues Album of 2013 at the British Blues Awards. Marshall has also been nominated for Best Blues Vocalist.
"I'm looking forward to building a relationship with the touring circuit of America," she says.
As an independent artist, Marshall says she can only hope to break even with her tour. Anything extra is a bonus.
"As long as I can make a living and pay my bills by singing and playing, I think the future is quite bright," Marshall says. "I've always lived my life one day at a time. Every day I can actually get up and play is a dream come true to me."
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Stargazers Theatre and Event Center, 10 S. Parkside Drive
Tickets: $10, $15 day of the show plus ticket processing fees; 476-2200, stargazerstheatre.com