British solo bassist Steve Lawson is a musician on a mission. Having twice toured the UK's major theatres and concert halls as the opening act for '80s brit-funk legends Level 42 and ex-King Crimson conglomerate 21st Century Schizoid Band, Steve's musical message of 'the bass, the whole bass and nothing but the bass' has been making serious waves.
Taking his solo bass show to audiences largely made up of people entirely unfamiliar with the notion of real-time looping or Steve's bass-as-orchestra approach to processing his sound ('a one man cosmic symphony' was how aural innovations magazine described it), the response has been amazing, garnering applause and praise from press and public alike.
But for those in the know, this was no surprise. Five albums in, Steve has already built up a substantial worldwide audience, as word about his one-man jam band solo bass shows has spread through the bass and looping communities. Listeners to eclectic music stations across the world visit his website in their thousands to find out more about the distinctly unbass-like sounds they've just heard.
And with the recent release of Grace and Gratitude, his third all-solo album, the buzz about Steve is growing once again. As with Steve's previous two solo albums Ð Not Dancing For Chicken in 2002 & And Nothing But The Bass in 2000 Ð Grace And Gratitude received rave reviews around the world, many writers hailing a brave new voice on the bass.
Having already performed across the USA, France, Italy, Germany and all around the UK over the last 18 months, the future is bright for Steve. Grace And Gratitude ups the ante once again, and continues his musical mission - to take solo bass to a non-bass playing crowd. Says Steve, "While it's great that bass players like what I'm doing, they do have a tendency to listen with their eyes rather than their ears, and judge the music on how complex it looks to perform, rather than how it impacts them as 'pure music'. The recent support tours have given me the chance to really test the water regarding playing solo bass to a non-bass crowd, and I was delighted with the response."
As well as his solo work, Steve regularly collaborates with other musicians, having recorded duet CDs with sax/flautist Theo Travis. and pianist Jez Carr, and played live with American solo bassist Michael Manring, pedal steel maestro BJ Cole, percussionist extraordinaire Orphy Robinson, and his latest project with acclaimed jazz vocalist Cleveland Watkiss.
Recent appearances include two visits to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the world's largest arts festival), Greenbelt festival, the Detroit BassFest, European BassDay and numerous solo and collaborative shows around England.
Steve Lawson (born 1972) is a British solo electric bass guitarist and looper.
Based in Birmingham, UK, Lawson also regularly tours in the United States and Europe as a live performer. In addition to his own headline concerts, he has supported both Level 42 and 21st Century Schizoid Band as a solo act, shared bills with other solo performers (such as Michael Manring), worked as a third of the political doom metal band #TORYCORE, and performed and recorded as a duo with his wife, the American singer Lobelia.
A vocal advocate for musicians retaining control over their own work and career, Lawson releases his music exclusively via his own Pillow Mountain label (latterly, through Bandcamp). His releases have included solo works and various duets and trios, all of which feature Lawson's signature technique of live looping (mingling multiple layers of both traditional and unusual sounds generated from bass guitar). He was one of the first three artists on Bandcamp to be offered the opportunity to trial their subscription service
Lawson is highly active and visible on the internet, interacting with fans and other musicians and using web technology such as Twitter to promote his own career and the work of other independent musical acts. In addition to this, he is a music journalist and cultural commentator, regularly contributing to Bassist and Guitarist Magazine (as well as writing for The Independent On Sunday, Third Way Magazine, Bass Player and Bass Guitar Magazine, and frequently publishes essays and hosting discussions on various social media).
Lawson co-hosts a bass guitar forum with Michael Manring at talkbass.com and is a regular contributor to ScottsBassLessons.com and basschat.co.uk. He also teaches bass guitar in Birmingham. He is undertaking a Ph.D looking at how audiences relate to improvised music