Marshall Lawrence "Doctor of the Blues"
Calgary International Blues Festival (2010)

Marshall Lawrence was born in 1956, north of the 54th parallel in Canada, in a cabin in the woods. Ten years later, rock n' roll was in full swing thanks to Chuck Berry, and a boy with a dream begged his father for a guitar. Marshall loved his precious Echo semi-acoustic and was determined to learn how to play it, inspired by Jimi Hendrix: "I loved his freedom and expression. I first heard Jimi when I was ten years old on the steps leading up to my family's apartment. I was just starting to play guitar and something in his approach immediately moved and inspired me. Here was a person who could express his innermost feelings through an inanimate object. This just blew me away and I knew I had found my direction."

Marshall followed the path of many other aspiring rock 'n' roll guitarists, buying albums by Chuck Berry, Johnny Winter, most of the 70's lineup of all-star power guitarists, and eventually coming home to the blues by way of B.B. King. He played his first gig in 1969 in Windsor, Ontario, with a band called The Peanut Gallery. Playing a '69 Gibson SG through a Fender Dual Showman, he proceeded to blow the amp on "Johnny B. Goode" (an early example of his trademark adrenaline-driven sound). He spent much of the 70's and 80's exploring and exploiting rock guitar styles while employed at a car factory in industrial Windsor.

Marshall moved east to Kingston in the early 90's to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. Musically, things were also beginning to shift: he discovered Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic, a Jimi-inspired guitarist who blended funky James Brown-style phrasing with a killer tone. Marshall found Eddie's style irresistible, and started playing 70's funk, groove and reggae with the groups Masala and Shock Walter. He also began experimenting with MIDI technology, playing Tower of Power-style horn lines, solo flute and digital FX on his Roland-equipped Strat.

In 1996, feeling that he had matured enough to respect the genre, Marshall was back playing the blues with the Marshall Lawrence Blues Band. However, work took him to northern California, where he couldn't locate any hip local blues scene. Since going without live music was not an option, he bought a mandolin, learned how to play it, and joined a local bluegrass band called the Tubtones. This wild transition taught Marshall a great deal about rhythm and contributed significantly to the sound he has today. He came back to Canada a year later and headed north to Edmonton where he'd heard there was an active and talented blues community. Within two weeks of relocating, he'd formed the R&B group The Rhythm Chil'un, and secured a house gig at Brandi's Blues Bar. As the music naturally evolved into a bluesier expression, the Marshall Lawrence Band was born. Live, the band soars high, delivering classic and original blues tunes that have audiences up and dancing in a Mississippi minute. Fueled by Marshall's passionate and intense approach, the Marshall Lawrence band rocks the blues in a genuinely singular style. His latest CD, Where's The Party?, is a testament to this sound—it's a recording where Marshall pays homage to the great veterans of the blues, but anchors it all down with his wailing, energetic style.

In addition to his electric blues gigs with the MLB, Marshall also performs acoustic dobro blues as a solo artist or as a duo with a little harmonica on the side. His acoustic slide playing is steeped in roots music and has a true and genuine blues feel. His throaty vocals remind you of sitting in a smoky Gin Joint in the '30s and '40s listening to the blues masters, and his pounding rhythms and fierce attack on the guitar transform each song into raw emotion.

Marshall Lawrence "Doctor of the Blues"