Jack Lawrence (bluegrass)

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Jack Lawrence
Born (1953-10-05) October 5, 1953 (age 70)
Charlotte, North Carolina
GenresBluegrass music
InstrumentsGuitar, 1945 Martin D-18 (named "Arthel")[1]
Years active1970–present
LabelsG Run, Little King

Jack Lawrence is an American bluegrass guitarist. He was Doc Watson's performing partner since the early 1980s. As major influences, Lawrence cites Doc Watson, Clarence White, and Django Reinhardt.


Early years[edit]

Lawrence was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina His father began work as a sound engineer for a local music hall when Lawrence was age 10. This allowed him to meet and learn from some performers such as Buck Owens, Don Rich, Bill Monroe, George Shuffler, and Flatt and Scruggs. In his teens, Lawrence played in local folk and bluegrass groups. A job with luthier C. E. Ward in Charlotte introduced Lawrence to Carl Story, and landed him his first professional job in 1970.[2]

Early career[edit]

In 1971, Lawrence joined the progressive bluegrass ensemble New Deal String Band, which also included Frank Greathouse (mandolin) and Al McCanless (fiddle). Then in 1972, he joined the Bluegrass Alliance, replacing Tony Rice and joining Lonnie Peerce (fiddle), Steve Maxwell (bass), Chuck Nation (mandolin), and Garland Shuping (banjo, vocal).[3] This lineup recorded the album Tall Grass on the Bridges label in 1973, and Lawrence left in 1974.[4] After a second stint with the New Deal String Band, Jack played electric guitar in rock and country bands for several years.[2]

In 1978, Lawrence formed a folk duo with Joe Smothers. Through Smothers, Lawrence met Doc Watson and his son Merle Watson.[5]

Doc Watson[edit]

1983, began working with Doc Watson in concerts and on recordings as Merle pursued other interests. When Merle died in 1985, Lawrence became Doc's full-time musical partner.[6][7][8]

In 2015, Lawrence coordinated a Doc Watson Guitar Tribute set at MerleFest, with participation by Sam Bush, David Holt, Stephen Mougin, Tim Stafford, Roy Book Binder, T. Michael Coleman, and Jack's son, Adam Lawrence.[1]

Other projects[edit]

Lawrence released his first solo album About Time in 1997, and in 2002, he released I Don't Need The Whiskey Anymore, featuring Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Tony Williamson, the Del McCoury Band, and Doc Watson.[9]

In 2013, Lawrence released Arthel's Guitar album, using Arthel "Doc" Watson's guitar on the recording.[10] The album contains bluegrass and fiddle tunes performed with Curtis Burch and Dale Meyer (resonator guitar), Wayne Benson (mandolin), Don Lewis and Shadd Cobb (fiddle), Steve Lewis (banjo), Ron Shuffler (bass), and Jody Call (drums, percussion). The album also includes several unreleased tracks by Watson.[11]

Lawrence has performed in and recorded with the ToneBlazers, along with Billy Gee (bass), Dale Meyer (resonator guitar), Jim Ashton (banjo, pedal steel), Jody Call (percussion), and Randy Gambill (guitar, mandolin).[12]

Personal life[edit]

Lawrence and his wife Katie live in Harrisburg, North Carolina. They have three children: Matthew, Adam and Jenny.


Solo recordings[edit]

  • 1997: About Time (G Run)
  • 2002: I Don't Need the Whiskey Anymore (G Run)
  • 2013: Arthel's Guitar (Little King)[13]

With Joe Smothers[edit]

  • 1981: Smothers/Lawrence (Park St.)

With Doc Watson[edit]

With the ToneBlazers[edit]

  • 2011: Red Clay Roots (Little King)
  • 2012: Grass Roots (Little King)
  • 2013: Gold Rush Town (Little King)

Also appears on[edit]


  1. ^ a b Renee Wright (April 23, 2015). "Remembering Doc at MerleFest: Interview with Jack Lawrence". AXS. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Guitarist Jack Lawrence Shines as Solo Artist - 2002-08-21". VOA News. October 27, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  3. ^ Claypool, James C. (2010). Kentucky's Bluegrass Music. Arcadia. ISBN 9780738585611. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Bluegrass Alliance". The Amplifier. July 3, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  5. ^ Holley, Chuck (May 2, 2017). A Perfectly Good Guitar. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9781477312582. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  6. ^ Kaufman, Steve (1999). The Legacy of Doc Watson. Mel Bay Publications, Incorporated. ISBN 9780786633937. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  7. ^ Gustavson, Kent (Feb 29, 2012). Blind But Now I See: The Biography of Music Legend Doc Watson. Sumach Red Books. ISBN 9781937753009. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  8. ^ Molly McGinn. ""Acoustic guitar is where I started. So that's who I am. That's who I've always been."". The Rooster's Wife. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  9. ^ Steven Stone. "Jack Lawrence: I Don't Need The Whiskey Anymore". Enjoy The Music. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  10. ^ "Bluegrass Unlimited". Jack Lawrence: Arthel's Guitar. October 1, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  11. ^ John Lawless (June 28, 2013). "Arthel's Guitar – Jack Lawrence". Bluegrass Today. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  12. ^ "ToneBlazers". Walnut Valley Festival. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  13. ^ "Jack Lawrence Dedicates New Album to Musicians Who Inspired Him". Cybergrass. April 26, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  14. ^ Rich Kienzle (April 1, 2016). "Doc Watson: Live At The Bottom Line - Doc In NYC". Vintage Guitar. Retrieved September 1, 2017.

External links[edit]