For his solo debut, Melancholy Waltz, singer-songwriter Richie Lawrence partners with a childhood friend: the family’s 1917 Model AIII Steinway Grand Piano. The disc, due February 2 on Big Book Records, features 12 gorgeous piano and accordion instrumentals and songs, harmony vocals by I See Hawks In L.A.

RIchie Lawrence and his Steinway Grand Piano featured in the Sacramento Bee:

A unassuming, yet beautiful collection, the title Melancholy Waltz aptly captures the sophistication of Richie’s unique blend of Americana, blues and folk: 10 original compositions haunted by the spirit of 1900’s New Orleans, one stunning blues interpretation of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise,” and one sweet duet with his wife, Katie.

Richie’s raw and quirky virtuosity is front and center, and the songs reflect a tumultuous decade in world history, expressed in a way that is deeply sad and sincerely hopeful, a Melancholy Waltz.

On “My Oklahoma Hills,” a tribute to his heritage, he longingly sings: “I left my home behind me/ My dreams do travel there still/ Through prairie ocean grasses/ My Oklahoma Hills.”

A debut 30-years in the making, Melancholy Waltz is a turn inward for Richie, deep into his own songwriting and personal world view, and a full embrace of his timeless and deep grasp of American piano.

Since leaving home for Colorado in the 1970’s Richie has been a session player in local blues bands throughout college, and again in the early 80’s in Los Angeles for The Tim Goodman Band. Fame and fortune didn’t quite happen, but Richie got to open for and hang with Bonnie Raitt, The Neville Brother, Willie Dixon, The Ramones, Timothy Leary and polka king Jimmy Sturr.

He co-founded with Paul Lacques (I See Hawks In L.A.), Rotondi, the whimsical and theatrical musical Polka extravaganza. Upon leaving Los Angeles for Sacramento, joined the cowboy folk music experience Horse Sense and later formed The Loose Acoustic Trio.

A staple of Farmers Markets and a performance at The California State Fair, the trio is an American original deftly blending folk, Cajun, old-time country, blues, jug band and ragtime that described as “an ideal soundtrack for a better world.”

And now with Melancholy Waltz, Richie comes full circle returning to the musical beginnings and his Steinway Grand Piano.

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