Alum Chris Lawson Charting Upward Path in World of Music
By day, Chris Lawson is an information technology specialist at Penn State Altoona, providing support to faculty, staff, and students through service, instruction, and operation of the Communications program’s state-of-the-art communications suite. On select evenings and weekends, he plays the upright bass and acoustic bass guitar for a band that recently earned the privilege of opening for a national act.
A 2008 Penn State Altoona graduate, Lawson and his band, Nobody’s Heroes, are going places. Literally. An established presence on the Altoona-area music scene, the band is negotiating with numerous summer festivals to book appearances that will place Nobody’s Heroes on the same stages with celebrated headliners. Lawson described the band’s music as “high energy Americana—Bluegrass, Folk, Country, Rockabilly, Blues, and even a little Celtic influence.”
On February 20, 2013, Lawson’s band opened for The Menzingers, a punk band that was nearing the end of a nationwide tour when it rolled into Altoona. Lawson described the experience as both fun and challenging.
“Our banjo player, Brian Dumm, who is also one of the main vocalists and songwriters for the group, had contracted a stomach bug,” said Lawson, 38. “I was notified the morning of the show that Brian was not going to be able to make it. We decided to play without him, modifying our set list and cutting out the songs that feature him as the lead vocalist. Brian was truly missed that night. The crowd loved our performance, and said we sounded great, but we felt it was a rough performance without him. You get used to hearing things the way you write them, and when an element is missing, it sounds empty.”
Nobody’s Heroes played a thirty-minute set of ten songs. For Lawson, it was familiar territory. When he played with the local punk-fueled Rockabilly band, The Marauders, he helped open for many national acts.
“We were even taken out on a national tour as the opening act for the Brian Setzer Orchestra,” said Lawson, who has been performing professionally for nearly twenty years. “Grammy-award-winning Brian Setzer even wrote a song about us called We Are The Marauders. He released it on his album entitled 13, and asked us to record a version as well.”
Nobody’s Heroes recently released its first CD, titled Nobody’s Heroes—American Band EP—and will continue exploring opportunities to perform for audiences throughout the region as the summer music festivals approach. The band also is booked to open for Michale Graves, former front-man of the Misfits, May 16 at Aldo’s in Altoona.
“It’s quite a remarkable feeling when a band locks in and the music takes over,” Lawson said. “When you’re fortunate enough to play in front of a large audience and you see this audience absorbing your music and singing along, it brings you and your performance to another level. I obviously enjoy it; that’s why I’ve stuck with it all these years.”