Guitarist Julie Winter Proves You’re Never Too Young to Rock

She’s with the band.

  • Category
    Arts, People
  • Written & photographed by
    Kat Monk

Julie Winter is living a version of her life she never imagined. “This window of time at my age is like having a second childhood—only way better because I have perspective now and can appreciate music, art and so much more,” she says. 

Growing up, Julie aspired to be an art major in college but opted for a route guaranteed to earn her a living. As a young adult, she sold commercial time for television nationally. She prided herself on being that hyper-responsible, carry-the-weight, take-care-of-everything, I-got-this kind of gal. She worked hard with long hours and long commutes. 

Much to her husband’s surprise, one day she spontaneously quit and didn’t look back. “I thought, ‘I am taking one year off; someone will take me back,’” she remembers. “But I was instantly six feet off the ground not working.” 

She made it her goal to figure out how to spend less money while enjoying quality time doing all the things she loves. A healthy eater, she started by making bread from scratch every week.

With two grown children out of the house and a grandchild on the way, she converted her ocean-view dining room into a dedicated art studio. This is where she does all of her painting and ceramic work. She now has a kitchen full of her homemade ceramic cups, bowls and plates. 

The pandemic shutdown gave her an opportunity to loosen up her interpretation of painting from memory rather than from models posing—allowing her more freedom with her renditions. One of her paintings is on display at the Malaga Cove Library. Even though she doesn’t like to market her art, HomeGoods/T.J. Maxx reached out to her to sell reproductions of her work. 

“There is not a day I don’t play my guitar. Plus, I’m always smiling when I leave a rehearsal.”

About eight years ago, she teamed up with a couple friends and started taking guitar lessons with Mark Fitchett. Another friend set out to learn how to play guitar, and her friend Diane—a classical pianist—joined the group and began to improvise on the keyboard. Soon after, they met two other women who played drums and bass. They found a vocalist, and a band was officially formed. 

Appropriately named GirlBand, they quickly became a hit around Palos Verdes, playing gigs at house parties and local venues. She describes the experience as addicting. “There is not a day I don’t play my guitar,” she says. “Plus, I’m always smiling when I leave a rehearsal.”

By far her highlight was having her band perform at her daughter’s wedding. Now she spends most weekends jamming with other musicians. Sundays often start with mimosas in her garage as different musicians stop by to jam. It might begin as a brunch session, but soon they realize the sun is starting to set. 

Julie feels most at home, though, when she plops herself into a little guitar-playing ball on the comfy couch in her family room. Achieving what most only dream of, she successfully got off the hamster wheel at a young age. Now she has no desire to leave her cocoon in Palos Verdes. She is more fulfilled than she ever thought she could be at this stage of her life.