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 alright. 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 Dobro. 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 interview] 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.