Tools: Anthem SL Classical
Lawson developed a love for the Spanish guitar in his mid-teens when he discovered the recordings of classical guitar maestro, Andres Segovia. He put aside what had been his primary instrument since the age of 8 - the drums - and dedicated himself to learning the music of the great Spanish composers that Segovia popularized. Through private study and with encouragement and inspiration from guitar teachers and master class workshops, Lawson quickly developed his own expressive voice on the guitar and honed an uncommonly dexterous classical fingerstyle technique that he exclusively uses to this day.
"The LR Baggs Anthem SL Classical system is amazingly powerful and accurately reproduces the warm tones of the guitar, yet it is remarkably feedback resistant, qualities that set it apart from other pickup systems I have tried."
By his early twenties, Lawson's keen sense of rhythm, knack for composition, and love of improvisation led him away from the classical repertoire and in the direction of the rhythmically enticing Spanish folk guitar styles and the improvisational freedom of Latin jazz and South American music. "While studying the classical guitar obsessively in high school I simultaneously discovered Latin jazz through some of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie's playful Latin-infused collaborations. Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan led me to bossa nova and Miles Davis's performance of the "Concierto de Aranjuez" opened my eyes to Spanish-tinged improvisation. Duke Ellington's world-jazz album "The Far East Suite" was also a revelation." Lawson quickly developed his own unique style, a combination of salsa, Latin jazz, blues, samba, bossa nova, flamenco, and classical music, punctuated by his distinctively sparkling technical proficiency.
After graduating with an English major from Duke University and a graduate degree from the London School of Economics, Lawson moved to Washington, D.C. and in 1998 partnered with guitarist Daniel Young to form the genre-busting Latin guitar fusion group Young & Rollins. Shortly after striking up a musical rapport during a chance meeting at a local flamenco guitar shop, the duo began performing on the vibrant local music scene and subsequently released their debut album SALSA FLAMENCA which landed on the Billboard Chart in 2000. Focusing on originality and experimentation, they performed only their own compositions and drew upon an eclectic mixture of salsa, Latin jazz, blues, samba, bossa nova, flamenco, and classical styles, brimming with improvisational flair and the fast-paced interplay between the guitars and the Latin percussion rhythm section. Young & Rollins quickly established themselves on the international music scene through their 3 subsequent studio albums SEVILLA (2001), ESPERANZA (2005), and MOSAIC (2006), and through their widely broadcast televised concerts and extensive live performances as a quintet in venues ranging from the Sydney Opera House to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In addition to landing on the Billboard Chart, their music has been included on 8 major top-selling compilation albums alongside all the leaders in their genre, including Ottmar Liebert, Strunz & Farah, Jesse Cook, and Armik, among others. The most recent compilation is the 2013 release, Guitar Greats: Best of New Flamenco, Volume 3.