Saxophones / Clarinet
Mitch Lawrence grew up in Steubenville, OH; forty five minutes from Pittsburgh, PA. When he joined middle school band and got his first rental saxophone, he immediately started to show an “interest in music”- if not an “obsession.” Noting his inclination, Mitch’s parents enrolled him in music camps in the region. When Mitch was old enough to drive, he often went to Roger Humphries’ Thursday Night Jam Sessions in downtown Pittsburgh . Around this time, Mitch played in the Pittsburgh Jazz Society Student Big Band and studied saxophone with Eric DeFade (then of Carnegie Mellon University); and (Eric’s dad) the legendary Ray DeFade Sr.
After high school, Mitch attended Youngstown State University and studied with Dave Kana, Dave Morgan, Kent Engelhardt, and Jim Umble. Among other groups, Mitch played with the YSU Frank Zappa Ensemble (with the CPB’s Bob Young on percussion). Youngstown, Ohio is notably halfway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and groups of students frequently traveled to both cities to learn at the best jazz jam sessions around. Various Youngstown gigs and connections ultimately led to a phone call from Jake Kouwe of The Chardon Polka Band.
Before coming onboard as a full time member of the CPB team in 2016, Mitch was a regular substitute for the group. Mitch had also worked for the group as an arranger, doing some compositions for the band’s studio album A Fistful of Polka. When the band went recruiting for an additional full time saxophone player, he was the first call they made.
Polka fans and audience members delight in Mitch Lawrence’s animation on stage. His obvious enjoyment of what he does is contagious. Mitch never stands still for long; punctuating his performances with kicks, spins, and other funky fresh moves. This tremendous and enthusiastic liveliness onstage is rivaled only by his expertise with his instrument.
Mitch has honed his musically skills performing with over seventy groups and artists. Over the course of his career, Mitch notably played with Mojo Generations Jazz Orchestra, Sammy DeLeon Salsa Orchestra, his own 3-5 piece jazz combos, and the highly explosive 9-piece original band FunkyardX. Mitch can play smooth jazz, gypsy jazz, classic rock, modern r&b, and whatever is catchy. He doubles on all 4 Saxes as well as flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet.
Mitch’s diverse musical background and training in jazz make him an asset to The Chardon Polka Band. The Chardon Polka Band is known to throw virtually anything into their zany Oktoberfest sets and Mitch’s ability to improv allows him to jump from polka, to punk, to country, to hip hop. His love of music and his the joy he gets from performing are readily visible throughout any performance. Mitch Lawrence is The Chardon Polka Band’s kicking wild man on sax.
Check out Mitch’s “artist page” on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mitch26two
Check out Mitch with FunkyardX: “No Diggity”
Mitch Lawrence is endorsed by Cannonball Musical Instruments: www.cannonballmusic.com
Location: Burton, OH
Birthday: January 26
Hobbies: Biking, Hiking, and Vikings