Jack Lawrence Interview

Q:  How and when did you start working with Doc?

JL: I got a phone call twelve years ago [this interview was done in 1995;
Jack filled in for Merle even before Merle passed away], and I've worked
with Doc ever since. I was a good friend of Merle and we played together a
lot. I guess Doc called me thinking if I got along with Merle, I should be
I got the phone call, I think, on Friday, and Doc said "there's a show
tomorrow in Illinois". So I got on plane on Saturday morning to Chicago,
and did soundcheck as the practice right before the show. I didn't even
have time to get nervous! I knew most of the tunes already but I remember
that I had to memorize some finer arrangements.

Q:  Does Doc tell you how and what to play?

JL: No, not at all. Very rarely, I guess when we did the rockabilly
album, he mentioned the "feel" for some intros but that was the only time
I remember. He let me do what I like.

Q: Speaking of guitars, you used to play Martins?

JL: I have a few Martins. I have several D-18's, one of which is from
1945 that Doc used a lot in 60's. That's one of my favorites but it's
been used a lot and has been repaired so many times that I stopped using
on stage. I'm using this Collings, and that's two years old, just
beginning to break in. I went to a music shop and saw this there, played
a little and fell in love with it. Since I got a number of guitars, I
decided not to get it. The next day, I went back just to check and when I
came to, it was in my car.

Q:  Does it have a pick up?

JL: Yes, it have two McIntyre pick ups. I get great sound when I feed it
to an old Ashley amp. I think Jerry Douglas uses the same pick up on his

Q: Strings?

JL: Right now, I put on John Pearse 80/20 medium. I used to use phosphor
bronze but I didn't have it when I changed so I used 80/20.

Q: When you finish playing, do you loosen the strings? [see Del McCoury

JL: I wipe them but I don't loosen the strings unless I go on a vacation.
If I don't play for a couple of months, I do loosen them. I don't change
strings often either, since I don't break strings much.

Q: You play chromatically often.

JL: Yes, I think so. My playing is influenced by chromatic style banjo,
and I like the sound of open strings. I've been using the same pick for
eight years. If I lose it, I may panic.

Q: Which do you prefer, flatpicking or fingerpicking?

JL: I'm mainly a flatpicker. Fingerstyle is fun but I never really worked
on it.