Here are some excerpts from a new review of CD “Blues Intervention from Rootstime Magazine in Belgium. A friend translated the review for me.. Enjoy…
“….Marshall is superb on his three beautiful guitars… Marshall belongs to the group of artists such as Taj Mahal, Roy Bookbinder and Corey Harris who just like Marshall knows how to put new life into the old traditional Delta Blues style with an injection of raw energy and boundless enthusiasm … The sometimes very fast finger style of Marshall makes me sometimes think about the acoustic earlier work of Johnny Winter… a good hour of first rate sliding blues….. a very authentic blues sound….”
Here’s an interview that I recently did !! It was posted online yesterday !!! Enjoy my friends !
Sometimes a lot of us burn and ache in our lives but the best remedy for that is to listen to some of the acid blues from a man who knows definitely about a thing or two about this game called life. Marshall Lawrence who is known as being The Doctor of Blues will always relate to what you are going through and will always bring you to the point where you can say that everything is going to be alright. The fact of the matter is that Marshall does not isolate but rather embraces the sorrows you may have and inspires to you to take them on head strong. FERNTV was able to get an appointment with the one who prescribes the best medicine of all: music.
FERNTV: It’s funny that a lot of people would never think that there would be a blues scene in Edmonton but it is a city of hard working people and long hard winters…so do you feel that the music you produce now is a product of your environment?
Marshall: Absolutely, it has influenced my music. You can only write about what you have experience, what you know and what you feel. For example, the Blues is a healing music and my fans gave me the name “Doctor of the Blues” because of the approach I take to the blues. I play the blues to heal myself as well as to provide the healing sounds to the audience. I was initially called the “Doctor of the Blues” by a fan in Kingston, Ontario many years ago. As I was playing at a local pub I noticed a young man staring intently at me and smiling. After the set was over I approached him and thanked him for coming to the gig. He told me that he had been seriously depressed, did not feel very good about himself, and that after hearing and seeing me play he felt better about himself. He decided things weren’t really all that bad for him, and saw that there is still passion and caring in the world. He said I healed him, called me the “Doctor of the Blues” and the name stuck. The interesting thing is that he did not know that I had a Ph.D. in Psychology.
FERNTV: Blues artists like Dave Rotundo and Julian Fauth started their blues careers in Toronto in the Spadina and Kensington area…where would that place be in Edmonton?
Marshall: A similar area in Edmonton would be Whyte Avenue. That is where lots of bars are located within a very few blocks. There is lots of action and excitement on Whyte Avenue almost every night of the week.
FERNTV: Do you welcome freestyle musicians on stage when you perform?
Marshall: I welcome all sorts of musicians on stage with me. I like being surprised. When you see a fellow musician in the crowd it is considered a form of respect to invite them up. Interestingly, I’ve labelled my style of blues “acid blues” to describe the combination of all the various styles of music that I’ve played and now infuse into the blues and also for my fiery and adrenaline driven approach to playing the blues. I did the rock thing, I did the punk thing, I did the funk thing and, for me it was just a progression to come back home to the blues. I use all of these musical influences in my approach to playing Blues, whether I’m playing acoustic or electric. So for me, Acid Blues is a mixture of blues, soul, rock, punk, and funk and above all else, self-expression. It’s always exciting when a blues tune morphs and changes live on stage. It’s like a musical journey and it’s magical!!
FERNTV: Tell us a little bit about this album “Blues Intervention”. Does this album suggest that it can be a sequel to your album “The Morning After” which can be a sequel to “Where’s the Party?”
Marshall: My three CDs are definitely part of a trilogy…. As Richard Amery from the L.A. Beat so aptly wrote in his review of Blues intervention….. “……..Where’s The Party,’ was an electric blues powered uptempo number with a bit of horns and a lot of music to drink vast quantities of alcohol too, his second, ‘the Morning After,’ proved to be just that— a beautifully wrought, laid back acoustic CD to soothe the souls and the livers of those trying to remember the night before. That being true, ‘Blues Intervention,” is the CD acoustic blues aficionados listen to get pumped up for another night of partying. ‘Blues Intervention ’ splits the difference. It retains the spirit of traditional Delta blues, while adding a modern twist as well as some bluegrass influence and some very cool mandolin playing……… “ Richard really got it right, as far as the mood and vibe I was creating when putting this trilogy together.
FERNTV: Does it still hold true today that you cannot be a true blues musician if you are not a good storyteller. Can you comment on that?
Marshall: Absolutely, when you’re playing blues, you need to be real and you need to be able to tell a good story. If you’re singing about you’re a break-up in a relationship, well, you really need to know what a relationship is all about. You need to have had life experience to really put the emotion, to put the feeling, to put the healing aspects in your song. Overall, blues is a healing music. It allows you to express and sing about what you feel any way you want. Some people say that the blues is a down music, you know it’s sad and depressing, but it’s not. The blues is actually a happy music. You may be singing about some bad patches in your life but through the singing you are working through it and passing on a lesson to whoever is listening. Through the telling you feel good and so does the audience. Everyone can identify with the blues. Blues helps us laugh at our troubles, share our story with others, helps us put things in perspective and helps us move on. It lets us know that we are not the only ones that have experienced bad patches in life. I owe a lot to the blues.
Not many blues artists can call themselves “the Doctor of the Blues” without a whole stretcher-full of the idiom’s winking big talk. But Marshall Lawrence can, and with only the slightest bit of irony. The award-nominated Canadian bluesman actually holds a doctorate in psychology, and he knows how to use it—just as he knows how to use his slashing guitar, stinging, lightning-fast slide, and pleading, mournful moan: Marshall’s prescription for a maximum blues remedy.
As festival, theater, and club audiences have been finding out, the best place to get a dose of Marshall’s medicine is right in front of the stage. Thanks to his jaw-dropping technique, moving delivery, and engaging persona, crowds of all walks and ages have been blown away. Of course while nothing can take the place of one of Marshall’s amazing live shows, his excellent studio albums are riveting calling cards, each one a shot of rough-edged, high-energy, Delta-style sounds with an acid twist sure to delight long-time traditionalists as well as newer, perhaps less-reverent converts.
Marshall’s newest release, Blues Intervention, is another stunning all-acoustic offering, following his 2008 Roots Music Report chart-topping The Morning After. A deep, soul-baring set of his self-described “acid blues”—a reference to the music’s alchemical mix of blues and Marshall’s background of playing everything from rock to soul, funk, bluegrass, and even punk—Blues Intervention is stacked high with one searing nugget after another: the dark, tell-it-like-it-is social commentary “Lay Down My Sorrow”; the truckin’ rip through Tommy Johnson’s “Travelin’ Blues”; the sage, slide-lashed “You’re Gonna Find the Blues”; and 10 other down-home tracks fueled only by Marshall’s voice and guitar, Sherman Doucette’s harmonica, and bassist Russell Jackson’s acoustic upright. “Marshall plays the best acoustic blues in the Great White North,” raves Jackson, who’s toured and recorded with such legends as B.B. King, Charlie Musselwhite, Katie Webster, Kenny Neal, and Matt “Guitar” Murphy.
How do you describe your music to people, Marshall?
I’ve labeled my style of music “acid blues & roots” to describe the combination of all the various styles of music that I’ve played and now infuse into the blues and also for my fiery and adrenaline driven approach to playing the blues & roots. I did the rock thing, I did the punk thing, I did the funk thing and, for me it was just a progression to come back home to the blues. I use all of these musical influences in my approach to playing Blues & Roots music, whether I’m playing acoustic or electric. So for me, Acid Blues & Roots is a mixture of blues, soul, rock, punk, and funk and above all else, self-expression. Ultimately, it is important to me to respect the tradition but also make each song my own. Originality is very important to me!!
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I first heard Jimi Hendrix when I was ten years old on the steps leading up to my family’s attic apartment. Something in his approach to guitar moved and inspired me. I couldn’t believe it, here was a person who could express his innermost feelings through an inanimate object and convey the essence of what I felt it was all about. This just blew me away and I knew I had found my direction. There was no turning back for me.
I used to play in electric blues bands, rock bands, funk bands, punk bands and bluegrass bands. The thing about playing in a band is the camaraderie among the players. I also enjoy the musical interplay between the players and the various instruments in the band. You really can create a musical landscape with the other instruments in the band and you don’t always know where the music will take you. Musically it can be very exciting.
However, I later discovered that playing solo acoustic blues and roots music is more intimate than playing in a band. When you are playing solo, it’s just you, your guitar and the audience. What the audience sees is what they get. You are up on stage naked, so to speak. You don’t have the rhythm section to move the song along or other musicians to add variety melody-wise. It is a very intimate musical experience for both you and for the audience. For me, playing solo is the “real deal”.
For me, playing acoustic guitar is more real than playing electric guitar. It is just you and the guitar. There are no amps or pedals. What you see is exactly what you get and hear. When you hold the acoustic or resonator to your body and play, you can feel the guitar and the strings resonate and vibrate. It’s as though the guitar is part of you. All the music is coming from your heart, fingers, body, and emotions. For me it is a total and direct connection to the instrument and the music.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Playing my guitar !!!
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
I love what I do !!! Being able to connect with so many people so easily through social media is amazing. I love being able to connect with musicians and music lovers so easily. We live in such an exciting time !
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I really always only wanted to play music and be a full time musician.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I have a Ph.D. in psychology and being a counsellor is similar to being Blues musician and Blues music. The blues is a healing music. It allows you to express what you feel any way you want. Some people say that the blues is a down music, you know it’s sad and depressing, but it’s not. The blues is actually a happy music. You may be singing about some bad patches in your life but through the singing you are working through it and passing on a lesson to whoever is listening. Through the telling you feel good and so does the audience. Everyone can identify with the blues. Blues helps us laugh at our troubles, helps us put them in perspective and helps us move on. It lets us know that we are not the only ones that have experienced bad patches in life. I owe a lot to the blues.
What does your future hold?
I want to continue recording and touring. When all is said and done, I want people to say that my style of blues was original and that I brought something new to blues and roots. I want them to say that I had a unique sound and that my music made people feel good and less alone in this world. That my music made them feel connected to others, myself, and my music.
“….. I’m giving a shout out today for Canadian Marshall Lawrence‘s new record, “Blues Intervention.” Lawrence, who calls himself the “doctor of the blues,” make what I call “clean” blues. He’s got a smooth voice and a smooth guitar style–no grit, and, honestly, not a lot of pain. It’s not what I am used to when I pick up a blues record. It’s crisp.
It’s getting a write up because the musicianship, as a technical matter, is terrific. Lots of fun to listen to. He takes standards like “Walking Blues” and “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” (a personal fave) and makes them sound new and modern–which isn’t easy to do with songs you’ve heard played dozens of times by dozens of different artists…. “
Here’s a review of Blues Intervention, me and my music. I am a happy man !!!
“This is what I call a “Super Bad Blues Man” this CD has some of the best blues I haven’t heard for such a long time. It has pure originality, creativity, and loaded with talent.” – Indie Lady A on WSF Radio
Here is an interview that I did with the Edmonton Journal that was published today (June 11, 2010). Enjoy… Marshall
Blues doctor strums healing tunes By Roger Levesque, Freelance June 11, 2010
Some nicknames fall a bit short of the truth, but Marshall Lawrence, dubbed the “doctor of the blues,” actually lives up to his unofficial designation.
Apart from having a doctorate in psychology and experience in counselling adults and troubled teens, Lawrence actually earned his nickname singing the blues. A few years ago, after he’d done a show, a patron told the guitarist-singer that he’d been depressed until he got Lawrence’s healing message.
“He told me, ‘You’re a doctor of the blues,’ and he had no idea of what I’ve trained for. I’ve always felt that the blues is a healing music.”
Incidentally, Lawrence’s doctoral dissertation was on the psychology of birdsong. He can tell you a lot about the interaction of our winged friends from listening to their musical conversations, but now all that takes second place to his lifelong fascination for the blues.
Six months ago, he set aside his other career to focus solely on music, and the latest evidence that he’s making good career choices at age 53 is a new set of acoustic folk-blues tracks, Blues Intervention, his third solo album (see doctorblues.com,CD Baby or iTunes).
It’s an impressive collection of mostly original, mostly uptempo tunes with some notable friends, Sherman “Tank” Doucette on harmonica and ex-B. B. King sideman Russell Jackson on acoustic bass. The cover shows off the three beautiful National guitars Lawrence played on the set along with some work on mandolin, banjo and jug.
Tomorrow Lawrence expands his regular stint as a host of Saturday afternoon jams at the Crown Pub (10709 109th St.) to mark the CD release with a 12-hour music marathon, running from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Of course he’ll be taking breaks occasionally and he expects to have a series of bands with him following the acoustic portion of the show up to 6 p.m. The menu will feature a range of barbecue fare.
Born in Flin Flon, Man, Lawrence was raised in Windsor, Ont., from age 10, around the time he got his first guitar. His enthusiasm for playing took off when he got a Gibson a few years later and he was often playing music on the side. He even joined a couple of bands as his college education took him down to California for a while. Following post-doctorate work there, he settled in Edmonton in 1997.
Lawrence sees the upbeat Blues Intervention as a natural followup to his first disc, an electric set of his favourite covers called Where’s The Party (2003), and to The Morning After (2008), a quieter set of acoustic work. If you think about the titles, they take a certain progression to Lawrence’s happier blues.
Maple Blues Award nominee Marshall Lawrence walks the fine line of playing traditional delta blues while throwing in enough of his own touch to put a unique signature on the much beloved style of music.
Since his debut album, Where’s The Party, was released in 2003, Lawrence has become one of the country’s leading new blues payers, who are collectively injecting their own vibrant energy into the blues. While previous efforts have seen him playing electric guitar, 2008’s The Morning After was recorded solely with an acoustic, further demonstrating his willingness to continue to experiment with new ways to deliver what some might say is a timeless sound. It worked well enough, and he continued to use acoustic guitar for his most recent album, Blues Intervention.
While fans of the genre are no doubt familiar with Lawrence’s music, he has what it takes to win a crossover audience – a quality not found too often within popular music, but something Lawrence could very well possess.
Ben Conoley is a freelance journalist living in Fredericton, NB. He has written for chartattack, Exclaim!, Alternative Press, and more. Ben is also a proud member of the Polaris Music Prize jury.
Edmonton based acoustic bluesman Marshall Lawrence is back to give ‘a blues intervention’ to those who need it with his third CD.
While his first CD, ‘Where’s The Party,’ was an electric blues powered uptempo number with a bit of horns and a lot of music to drink vast quantities of alcohol too, his second, ‘the Morning After,’ proved to be just that— a beautifully wrought, laid back acoustic CD to soothe the souls and the livers of those trying to remember the night before.
That being true, ‘Blues Intervention,” is the CD acoustic blues aficionados listen to get pumped up for another night of partying.
‘Blues Intervention ’ splits the difference. It retains the spirit of traditional Delta blues, while adding a modern twist as well as some bluegrass influence and some very cool mandolin playing.
It is still all acoustic, but it is uptempo delta blues, with catchy, traditional blues playing backed by quite a bit of harp and some rock solid bass lines.
One of the CD’s highlights, other than the upbeat ‘So Long Rosa,’ and ‘Traveling Blues,’ is ‘You’re Going to Find the Blues,” reminds me a little of Ken Hamm’s singing.
‘Lay Down My Sorrow’ is a lot more haunting and ‘If I had a Nickel’ has some really good lines as well as some cool acoustic picking and a solid bass line keeping the rhythm going.
‘Going Down To Louisiana,’ is an uptempo sizzler with a vibrant harp solo and some deadly dobro playing.
It’s also great to hear Marshall ‘the Doctor of the Blues’ Lawrence play mandolin on tracks like ‘Going to the River.’
He has some exceptional hired hands on the CD as well, with Sherman ‘Tank’ Doucette who adds his expertise on the harp. He has played with the likes of B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and Albert Collins to name a few. Helping out on stand up bass is Russell Jackson, who was B.B. King’ s, stand up bassist for many years.
‘Detroit Motor City Blues’ is the only time on the CD where Lawrence really slows down.
Another of my favourites is ‘Once Loved a Cowgirl, which is an up beat slide powered rocker with some more fantastic harp playing.
He ends the CD on a traditional note with ‘Going down The Road Feeling Bad,’ featuring some more hot guitar playing.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Blues Intervention Artist: Marshall Lawrence Genre: acoustic blues Record Company: Indie