photo credit: Niniane Kelley
Rue Sanxay, the forthcoming release from musician/songwriter Richie Lawrence, is a flat out love fest; new love, old love, New York love, Parisian love, Bayou love and eternal pining. Typical of Lawrence’s ever-eclectic gamut of song, one finds both lyric and instrumental tracks. Tunes emerge from a sublime melancholy, a wry sense of humor, and honesty.
Richie’s debut Melancholy Waltz relied on solo instrumental music, stark and haunting. Water, the second record, was cut with his band The Yolos. Rue Sanxay draws from both and takes a step further. With four rocking instrumentals in Cajun/Zydeco, French Waltz, Jazz Trio, and Classic Ragtime styles, only the Tribute Rag is solo piano. Two are with fellow Yolos, Scott Prawalsky on upright bass and Bart van der Zeeuw on drums.
The real departure comes with three beautiful lead vocals by Katie Thomas: When I Find My Love Someday, Play On and Oxford Town. Play On and title track Rue Sanxay are co-written by Richie and talented longtime musical cohort Paul Lacques (I See Hawks In L.A., Double Naught Spy Car, Rotondi), who plays guitar on Rue Sanxay. Oxford Town, the sole cover, is penned by great blues troubadour and old friend Ray Bonneville.
Rue Sanxay was recorded by the newest Yolo, talented on all things stringed, Matt Baxter, at the fabulous Baxter’s Ranch Recording studio in Auburn, CA. Listen for these other featured master musicians: Shawn Nourse, Matt Baxter, Josh Rabie, Pete Grant and Wayne Wallace!
Richie’s musical backdrop creates the foundation for the varied genres that weave through his songs–styles absorbed, refashioned and born anew. Attending the opera with his grandparents at hometown Tulsa municipal theater; listening to country music permeating the Oklahoma airwaves; digging big band swing and Ray Charles with his father Richard Sr., also a pianist; older sister Elvis immersion; attending a 1965 concert with James Brown opening for The Rolling Stones; hanging with Chicago musicians and being initiated into the living blues; moving to Los Angeles, meeting Paul Lacques and together forging a new wave polka music in Rotondi; Touring the world with cowboy folk music purveyors, Horse Sense; plying the Farmers Markets of the central California Valley with The Loose Acoustic Trio; and a new partnership with Ray Bonneville–all define a rainbow of beautifully rendered song colors. If there’s a niche here, the category Americana comes to mind, but in the broadest sense of the word. Enter the eclectic music wonderland according to Richie.
“Richie has mastered the ability to take Roots Americana in its most August lazy and yet make it seem fresh. It is strange and wonderful.” – Dan Collins, L.A. Record
“… a special sound has been created that is very independent. Very expressive.” — http://www.rocktimes.de/gesamt/l/richie_lawrence/water.html
Richie Lawrence was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when Eisenhower was president, and that was just fine with Tulsa. Richie grew up as a townie and a country boy, spending summers cowboying on the family’s grassland homestead. He became best friends with the family’s 1917 Model AIII Steinway Grand Piano, which he plays to this day. Richie got deep into the blues and roots music, self-taught from vinyl, absorbing the styles of Professor Longhair, Otis Spann, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Garth Hudson.
Upon surviving high school, young Lawrence wound up in 1970’s Colorado, when bands were paid to play, rock musicians ruled the earth, and you could still drink from mountain streams. Freedom reigned. Acquiring a BFA in art history at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Richie also took his knocks in the College of Musical Knowledge, in local groups, such as the Ray Bonneville Blues Band, opening for and absorbing Willie Dixon, Mance Lipscomb, John Hammond, and The Ramones.
1980 brought the big move to Los Angeles. Richie’s first recorded song and session playing was released in ’81 with The Tim Goodman Band, on Columbia Records. The LP, produced by John McFee, featured every member of the Doobie Brothers and the incomparable Nicky Hopkins. Fame and fortune didn’t quite happen, but Richie got to open for and hang with Bonnie Raitt, Steve Goodman, Crystal Gayle, America, and George Thorogood.
In 1983 Richie met guitarist/songwriter Paul Lacques and the two would work together for the next 7 years in that uniquely creative and crazy theatrical Polka extravaganza called Rotondi. Richie would finally learn to play his uncle’s accordion liberated from Germany in WWII. The Rotondi exploit garnered, for both Richie and Paul, Los Angeles DramaLogue Awards for Best Music, and thousands of fans across the country. The band would release 4 CDs and appear on every major television network of the day: ABC, CBS, NBC, as well as Fox, HBO, and NPR’s Weekend Edition. Three U.S. tours and many festivals led to meeting, jamming, or hanging with The Neville Brothers, David Lindley, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Doug Sahm, Little Richard, David Byrne, Timothy Leary, Brave Combo and polka kings Jimmy Sturr and Eddie Blazonczyk.
Love and work brought Mr. Lawrence to Sacramento, CA in 1994. He married the beautiful Katie Thomas and joined the traditional cowboy folk music experience called Horse Sense, with Justin Bishop. On the rosters of The USIA, The Western States Arts Federation, and The Los Angeles Learning Tree, musical tours were made to El Salvador, Indonesia, Germany, Poland, many of the United States and more schools than one can count. Collaborating with the likes of cowboy poets, Paul Zarzyski and Wally McRae, and playing The Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, were beyond inspirational.
2004 brought The Loose Acoustic Trio and partnering with fellow writer and bedpandolin player Ken Cooper and bassist Steve O’Neill. The LAT’s debut CD, Brand New Mind (2005), inspired the inaugural release and creation of Big Book Records. With no reviews and no help, The Trio’s first CD was able to reach #27 on the Freeform American Roots (FAR) chart and wander into a few TV productions. The Trio honed their sound at Farmers Markets and entered the big time with The California State Fair.
Big Book Records scored a memorable twin release, on May 20, 2008, with the 2nd record by The Loose Acoustic Trio, Sorrow Be Gone, and the fourth CD by Southern California country rockers, the indomitable I See Hawks In LA, founded by Paul Lacques and Rob Waller. Things come full circle as Richie Lawrence and Paul Lacques once again combine artistic forces.
In 2010 Richie Lawrence launched his solo career with Melancholy Waltz and followed with Water in 2012. This was the critics’ response:
“Excellent pianist with passion” — Hallandsposten.se
“There’s something powerful and joyful about his piano compositions.” – Brian Fitzpatrick http://blogcritics.org
“I love records that are a bit nuts.” – Lonesome Music blog
“A talent like no other on the piano.” – Maverick Magazine
“This is what music is meant to do, I am transported…” – NBT http://nbtmusic.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/the-nbt-review-64/
“Brilliant songs …” – Peter Holmstedt (Hemifran)
In between solo projects, Melancholy Waltz and Water, Lawrence made time for some outside work, recording tracks on two I See Hawks In LA CDs, New Kind of Lonely (2012) and Mystery Drug (2014) as well as Ray Bonneville’s latest, Easy Gone (2014), and is heavily featured on the upcoming Earthworm Ensemble CD. Richie is currently touring with Ray and I See Hawks In LA, and will be touring to support his own new album, Rue Sanxay, showing fans his serious, musician/singer/songwriter side, with the help of his fellow Yolos. Lawrence states, “These songs are important to me. I want people to hear them.”
Download Richie’s full bio and press kit here.