RICHLANDS, Va. —
He remember listening to his grandfather play music. Don Horn wasn’t an advance player. Lawson said he played old gospel hymns and a few bluegrass songs.
“He was the first person who I remember seeing play the guitar. He was my first inspiration,” Lawson said.
When his mom married his stepfather, Don Armstrong, he heard him and his brother, Mickey, play an old surf song called “Pipeline” by The Ventures. Lawson knew he had to learn to play the song.
“Don spent many hours teaching me how to play old instrumental songs that he and his brother had learned as children,” Lawson added.
The Armstrong family were also teachers.
“None of these people were formally trained, but they all played in bands professionally their whole lives,” he said.
He has a lot of favorite songs. But a few hold memories like “Sunday Morning Coming Down” as sung by Johnny cash, a favorite of his father, Tom Lawson.
“My dad didn’t play but we listened to a lot of music together. He introduced me to ZZ Top, also one of my influences.”
Other artists he draws inspiration from include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and old blues artists Howlin Wolf, Buddy Guy and Robert Johnson.
“While performing the audience inspires me. If they get into the music and enjoy it, it gives me energy to play and perform better than I think I can sometimes,” he said.
He is also encouraged to work hard as a teacher and musician by his family and his faith in Jesus.
“I’m inspired when I think about what Jesus did for all of us. I believe He died for us so we could be saved. I can’t do anything good with Him. He is the greatest inspiration to me — period.”
His daughters, Isabella and Emma, are his biggest fans. He also credits his mom for building up his work ethic and teaching him he could do anything he wanted to do.
When it comes to the classroom, he looks toward other teachers.
“We have teachers that truly give it their all in Southwest Virginia. All teachers at my school care and do their best for their students every day. They also have high expectations for their students. When teachers and students have high expectations, it is easy to inspire each other,” Lawson said.
For Lawson, it all about the connection — in the classroom or on the stage. One art project and one song at a time.