Michael Paul Lawson
 
Photo by Rico Marcelo

Photo by Rico Marcelo

Lawson creates visceral Americana, blending prose and raw realities into folk songs that recall the early work of Jason Isbell and John Prine
— Northern Transmissions
 
 
 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Provided direct opening support for: Sons of Bill, The Steel Wheels, BoDeans, and The Brook & The Bluff.

  • Shared performance bills with: The Last Bison, The Hackensaw Boys, Logan Vath, The Tillers, Nico Franc, Victoria Canal, ROEBUCK, and Brackish Water Jamboree.

  • 2 time SeaLevel Singer-Songwriter Competition 1st-runner up.

  • VEER Magazine Artist of the Year nominee (2015, 2016, 2017).

Steeped in the lyrical reverence and enigmatic poeticism of a modern alternative singer/songwriter scene but not devoid of a classic country swing, “Wolf by the Tail” is a decadently designed, brutally honest ballad that isn’t afraid to hit us where it hurts the most
— Too Much Love
Michael Paul Lawson is on our 2019 artist watch list and should be on yours as well
— Nashville Music Guide
Poignant, emotive and well-crafted “Wolf By The Tail” is a very welcome introduction to a new voice in the Americana and Alt Country cavalcade.
— The AU Review

STORY

Michael Paul Lawson was born into a deeply musical family, with generations of band leaders, classically trained academics, and brass band legends before him. While his early inclinations were to follow in their footsteps, his contentious relationship with his father and the urgings of his family to pursue more lucrative career paths, dampened his musical ambitions. Trading in the rust of northern New York for the luster of Long Island’s gold coast, Lawson set his artistry to the side in pursuit of corporate life. Eight years later, saddled with student loan debt and weary from the relentless New York City grind, Lawson moved, on a whim, to Norfolk, VA. 

In Norfolk Lawson found space and clarity. He could watch the sunrise over the Atlantic and the sunset across the Blue Ridge Mountains in the same day. In Virginia the music started to flow. Plain-spoken ballads with deceptively straight-forward lyrics. A mix of beautiful prose and raw realities, conjuring up the early work of Jason Isbell and the slow burning, sobering lyrics of John Prine. Lawson was soon singing these songs in breweries and bars across Virginia, working it out, making up for lost time.

A disciplined artist with a punch-clock work ethic, Lawson began building a reputation as one of the most prolific writers and performers in the area, and he quickly began securing notable slots at the Norfolk Folk Festival and providing opening support for The Steel Wheels, and Sons of Bill. Eventually, his songs reached producer Daniel Mendez (Noah Gundersen, The Native Sibling) who offered Michael a development deal and an invite to track a debut EP in Austin.

Returning to Austin, where Lawson spent childhood summers visiting his father, was cathartic. It had been 16 years since Lawson was last in hill country, and 16 years since he last saw his father’s silhouette in the back of a squad car, when the constant drinking and violence came to head in the Texas night, ultimately leading to their estrangement. It was an odd place to return now that he was carving out a new life path, but it also felt strangely in step with the material he had written for his debut EP, Some Fights You’ll Never Win (July 12, 2019). He was reconciling his relationship with his father, there in the flesh, and in the studio, as he committed his highly personal songs to tape. It was a healing experience, coming full circle, continuing the lineage of musical craftsmanship that had run in his family for generations.

“It’s taken a long time for me to get to where I should have been going from the start,” Lawson reflects. But taking the ‘back roads’ gave him the clear understanding, as the songs on Some Fights You’ll Never Win attest, that the most important battles to dive into are internal.

 

9/25/19 | New York, NY | Rockwood Music Hall
9/14/19 | Knoxville, TN | WDVX Blue Plate Special
7/27/19 | New York, NY | Sofar Sounds
7/19/19 | Norfolk, VA | Goode Theater***
6/20/19 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard (opening for Steve Earle)

5/29/19 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
5/23/19 | Virginia Beach, VA | The Bunker
5/15/19 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
5/8/19 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
5/3/19 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
4/24/19 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
4/13/19 | Norfolk, VA | Mojo Bones
4/10/19 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
3/30/19 | Virginia Beach, VA | VBSPCA Gala
3/21/19 | Virginia Beach, VA | American Brew
3/8/19 | Virginia Beach, VA | New River Tap
3/6/19 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
2/22/19 | Virginia Beach, VA | American Brew
2/22/19 | Virginia Beach, VA | American Brew
2/16/19 | Norfolk, VA | Smartmouth Brewing
2/15/19 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
2/13/19 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
2/9/19 | Norfolk, VA | Toast**
2/8/19 | Suffolk, VA | Brick and Mortar
2/7/19 | Richmond, VA | Garden Grove
1/27/19 | Virginia Beach, VA | American Brew
1/18/19 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
1/10/19 | Virginia Beach, VA | American Brew
1/5/19| Virginia Beach, VA | Zeider’s Theater*
12/31/18 | Norfolk, VA | O’Connor Brewing NYE

*Opening support for
The Steel Wheels
**Opening support for The Brook & The Bluff
***Record Release Show

12/19/18 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
12/15/18 | Virginia Beach, VA | American Brew
12/5/18 | Smithfield, VA | Wharf Hill Brewing
11/21/18 | Virginia Beach, VA | American Brew
11/7/18 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
11/3/18 | Norfolk, VA | Norfolk Folk Festival
11/1/18 | Suffolk, VA | Brick & Mortar Brewing
10/28/18 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard***
10/26/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
10/24/18 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
10/20/18 | Norfolk, VA | Smartmouth Brewing
10/14/18 | Williamsburg, VA | 2nd Sundays
10/13/18 | Chesapeake, VA | Private Event
10/6/18 | Virginia Beach, VA | Proteus Festival
10/5/18 | Suffolk, VA | Brick & Mortar Brewing
9/30/18 | Hampton, VA | Victorian Station
9/28/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
9/26/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
9/25/18 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
9/19/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
9/12/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
9/7/18 | Indiana, PA | North App. Folk Fest
9/5/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
8/18/18 | Norfolk, VA | Smartmouth Brewing
8/15/18 | Smithfield, VA | Wharf Hill Brewing
8/3/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
7/29/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Cogan’s Deli
7/27/18 | Norfolk, VA | WHRO Radio Station

***Opening support for BoDeans

7/20/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
7/13/18 | Hampton, VA | MoMac Brewing
7/7/18 | Wintergreen, VA | Private Event
6/23/18 | Virginia Beach, VA | Zeider’s Theater
6/20/18 | Smithfield, VA | Wharf Hill Brewing
6/15/18 | Portsmouth, VA | MoMac Brewing
6/8/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
5/19/18 | Norfolk, VA | O’Connor Brewing Co.
5/18/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
5/2/18 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
4/29/18 | Virginia Beach, VA | American Brew
4/28/18 | Norfolk, VA | Smartmouth Brewing
4/27/18 | Portsmouth, VA | MoMac Brewing
4/24/18 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
4/11/18 | Hampton, VA | The Vanguard
4/7/18 | Norfolk, VA | O’Connor Brewing
3/30/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
3/23/18 | Hampton, VA | TFAM Showcase
3/17/18 | Suffolk, VA | Brick & Mortar Brewing
3/14/18 | Smithfield, VA | Wharf Hill Brewing
3/9/18 | Portsmouth, VA | Copper & Oak
3/3/18 | Murfreesboro, TN | Peter D’s
3/2/18 | Nashville, TN | The Local
2/23/18 | Norfolk, VA | Sofar Sounds
2/16/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31
2/7/18 | Smithfield, VA | Wharf Hill Brewing
1/13/18 | Norfolk, VA | O’Connor Brewing
1/12/18 | Williamsburg, VA | Craft 31

 

ADDITIONAL VIDEOS