Watch this space for Rohn's new album, "See Ya Around" (JZZ 20300-2)
Whether in the studio or on the stage, creating a feeling of joy is guitarist Rohn Lawrence's ultimate goal.
"That was one of the things that impressed me when I first heard George Benson," Lawrence explains. "I liked what he was doing on guitar--the melodic sense of it--but what really hit me was that he sounded like he was having fun."
The list of other guitarists that have influenced Lawrence's style include Wes Montgomery, Charlie Chrisitan and John Tropea. "I bought Tropea's Short Trip To Space album when I was 14," he recalls, "because at the time I had a black Les Paul (guitar) just like the one on the cover. Listening to that album had a profound impact on my approach to the guitar and really influenced the way I play in a band."
A native of New Haven, Connecticut, Lawrence doesn't even remember the day he wasn't playing guitar-- something he's been doing since the age of two-and-a-half. "My first instrument was a plastic Mickey Mouse guitar," he admits, "on which my parents swear I was playing real songs."
As a youngster, he cultivated his own concepts by listening to his musical heroes--including non-guitarists such as Count Basie and Lionel Hampton. He played acoustic guitar through elementary school, began building guitars before he turned nine, got his first Stratocaster at age eleven, and switched to electric guitar exclusively when he was about thirteen. "I like electric because you can control the volume and you just have more to work with as far as sound is concerned."
Playing in New Haven Funk bands such as "Good News" and "The Lift" (which included saxophonist Marion Meadows), Lawrence soon developed into a first-call axeman for several of the most active players on the contemporary music scene. He has continued to perform with Meadows, while also cultivating associations with other notables like George Duke, Diane Reeves, Jonathan Butler, Alex Bug˝on, Freddie Jackson and Najee.
It was in Najee's band that Lawrence met "Bread" of the duo "Bread & Butter", who are the producers on his Atlantic debut. Since arriving in Boston just over two years ago, Lawrence has been performing regularly with "Bread & Butter", primarily at noted local nightspot Wally's--immortalized on the tune titled "Waitin' On Wally".
While Lawrence has been leading bands on stage for years, Hangin' On A String was his first studio session as a leader. "The main thing that concerned me about recording as a leader," he confesses, "was keeping myself from being bored with my own playing." Fortunately, Lawrence admits that he didn't get bored. "I was pretty comfortable with it," he says. "There have been times that I haven't been comfortable with material I was receiving for a record, but this time, everything just clicked."