The true mark that distinguishes a great musician from a good musician is their ability to create a conversation on stage with other artists. Someone that can take a piece of music, a folk song, a blues number, and bring it to a whole different level than the original composition or the songwriter's idea of what the song could be. They are able to transcend verbal communication in someway and speak through wood and steel in such a clear and profound way that its almost like they are actually speaking to you and the other musicians (using words that is). Laurence Scudder, ladies and gentlemen, is a great musician.
If you frequent any of our favorite local clubs around town you have likely seen Laurence playing. The man sits in with and regularly plays with so many acts around town I have a hard time keeping count, but a few of them happen to be my favorite artists. Danielle Miraglia, Ryan Fitzsimmons, Jim Larkin, Erik White, Dietrich Strause...and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Scudder's playing is on the forefront of what is means to adapt an instrument and bring what it is capable of to a whole new level. I mean, you don't often see a player of violin family instruments lugging around a pedal board with their viola case, do you? Each and every time I get to see Larry play it is a treat and a privilege. He is truly one of the special ones that only come around every so often.
Regretfully for me, I can probably only count on one hand the times I have been lucky enough to grace the stage with Laurence, so I thought it best to get some additional insight from someone who plays with him all the time as well...
"I think one of the aspects that makes Laurence's playing so compelling
is that he approaches the viola from a different perspective than most
string players. First of all, he's a violist, and very few string
players choose that instrument as a lead voice because of it's lower
register. Larry's playing makes it cut through, and that extra depth
gives him a sound that is really his own. He is informed and influenced
by some pretty non-traditional sources for a violist. Lead guitarists
like Jimi Hendrix and Nels Cline figure into the mix, along with a deep
knowledge and respect for a wide range of musical genres. That case of
his has Willie Nelson, Beastie Boys and Wilco stickers all displayed
right next to each other, and you can hear them all in his playing.
Most string players fall into two camps, those who were raised on
traditional fiddle tunes (bluegrass, celtic, etc...), and those who were
classically trained. You usually can hear which side they come from
immediately. While Larry was classically trained, to me his melodic
sense seems to come from somewhere else, somewhere that's all Laurence.
He can lay out lines that sound like the most ripping electric guitar
solo you've ever heard, then lay down the perfect melodic string
backing, and then kick in the effects to take you into some weird other
world's atmosphere. Best of all, he does all of that with true heart
and conviction, never afraid to go all-in when necessary." - Ryan Fitzsimmons
Be sure to check Larry out one of these nights...the guy seemingly gigs 7 nights a week so its not that hard!