The music man sets up in Kamas
October 21, 2008
He is a little bit country, he’s also a little bit rock and roll. He looks good in a tuxedo playing classical as well.
Musician Jeff Lawrence has been teaching guitar and playing in clubs in Summit, Wasatch and Utah counties for years. Last month he opened up Lawrence Guitars on Main Street in Kamas between the theater and the Chevron.
Lawrence has been a professional musician since age 9 when he played the mandolin in a touring Blue Grass band. Since then he hasn’t stopped playing and has mastered several genres. He played in the thrash metal band, Hallows Eve. He has a degree in classical guitar. He’s even toured with Buddy Holly’s niece.
Some time ago he decided to move to Utah to live near his son in Salt Lake City. With money from a record deal he bought a house in Kamas and started giving lessons around the county.
Recently he noticed a For Rent sign on a shop on Main Street next to the theater. The landlord allowed him access to the stage for recitals, and it was a done deal, he said.
There are even plans to turn the old theater into a music conservatory by mid-November he said. It has the governor’s support, he added nonchalantly. That’s because Lawrence teaches the governor’s son in the governor’s mansion.
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Most of Lawrence’s guitar students come from Park City, he said. But he also teaches three classes a week at Treasure Mountain International School, the Heber UVU campus and for the Alpine School District in Utah County.
On weekends, he plays gigs and is booked until March, he said. As a side hobby, he’s also become an agent for comedians, professional wrestlers and television personalities.
The mountains and low-crime rate of Kamas appeal to him, he added.
The shop on Main Street Kamas is mostly to provide a studio so he doesn’t have to teach in homes all the time. He also has 30 to 40 inexpensive guitars for sale for new students.
"I already have students lined up to come down," he said.
He’s got two other teachers helping him who handle beginners while he teaches the more advanced students, which include respected local musicians as well as teenagers who can’t learn fast enough, he said.
Stephanie Polukoff, the mother of one of his students, said she’s known Lawrence for a long time. She appreciates how her son is able to connect with him.
"My son responds to Jeff like nobody else and he’s had lots of lessons. The key is finding person he relates to," she said.
Zac Polukoff, 11, called Lawrence a "really nice, good person" who is always at lessons early and allows him to choose what he wants to study. Other teachers have a tendency to push hard, which Zac said makes him flustered and stressed. Lawrence pushes him, he said, but in a way that he learns what he wants.
Matthew Whitby, 17, has been taking lessons with Lawrence for about three years.
"I was actually kind of desperate for a teacher it’s been going really great. He doesn’t tell me I have to learn a certain thing, he lets me choose," he said.
That doesn’t mean he’s slack. Whitby said Lawrence teaches him everything he needs to know to get where he wants to go, but lets Whitby make that decision.
"He’s definitely a lot more enthusiastic than other teachers I’ve had. For me, he gives his students a great amount of confidence. This pays off, we learn pretty quick," he said.
50 North Main Kamas