Concert to be held in honor of Blair Lawhead

Published 9:18 am Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, a free concert will be presented at the Hormel Historic Home as part of the festivities leading up to the Austin Artworks Festival.

The concert’s theme is centered around the life of Blair Lawhead, an Austin native, and his life’s journey from Austin to New York City. The event will feature a program of various musical genres and artwork.

Blair played violin on Broadway, including cast recordings of “Annie,” “Ragtime,” “The Secret Garden” and more. He also played violin on the silver screen, and worked with Barbara Streisand in “A Mirror Has Two Faces.” He appeared as a violinist NBC’s Soap Opera, “Another World.” Those attendingo can expect classical pieces and Broadway hits from some of the shows with which Blair played.

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“In high school, Blair loved performing in the Austinaires,” said Blair’s brother, Brandon Lawhead. “You can expect songs from current and past Austinaires, such as Erin Schumacher and Brock Lawhead, Blair’s nephew.”

Brandon will perform on his brother Blair’s violin.

“This concert isn’t a memorial service, it’s a celebration. And it’s not about the past; rather, it’s focus is the future,” Brandon said.

Brandon credits his brother for his own musical success. Brandon won the violin portion of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition and was one of eight finalists competing from a pool of the finest students in the upper Midwest. Brandon attended St. Olaf College and won the honor to solo with the St. Olaf Orchestra twice, “which is a rare feat,” according to St. Olaf Orchestra conductor, Steven Amundsen.

He was selected to be a senior soloist … “which is the highest honor bestowed to a musician at St. Olaf,” Amundson said.

Brandon has played his violin professionally with Marvin Hamlisch (“Chorus Line” and Barbara Streisand) who one of two people to ever win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and Pulitzer Prize awards. Additionally, Brandon played with the Minnesota Orchestra, The Who, The Moody Blues, James Ingram, Roberta Flack, Johnny Mathis, Amy Grant and Richard Marx among others.

At the concert, Brandon plans to play Blair’s rendition of the Orange Blossom Special.

“Rather than doing a typical teenage summer job, like mowing lawns, Blair started a country western band called the Turtle Creek Band, who regularly performed to large followers at the Paramount Theater, the Red Cedar Inn and other venues in Austin,” Brandon said. “Blair’s Orange Blossom Special became an Austin favorite and Blair regularly stirred the Miss Minnesota Pageant to standing ovations when he played the Orange Blossom Special.”

Blair Lawhead. Photo provided

Blair also started a hair business, called Blair Hair, and he became an avid art collector including works by his favorite artist, Louise Fishman, who was also his next-door neighbor.

Fishman, is a world renowned abstract painter, rooted in her cultural, political, emotional experiences. Fishman was extremely active in the feminist movement, and this led to her 1973 “Angry Women” series, which represented important figures in the feminist movement.

“You don’t need to travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see a Fishman work, “ said Brandon Lawhead. “You can come to the Austin Arts Festival.”

The evening will conclude with a cocktail hour, featuring a performance by the Jazz Missionaries, a group which includes Donaldson Lawhead, Blair’s father, and Brian Koser.

Don was one of only 10 selected to serve as a composer-in-residence under a two-year Ford Foundation grant.

After completing the Ford Foundation grant in Chicago, Don and the family moved to New Orleans, where Don played in jazz clubs of the French Quarter and throughout the city.

During this period, Don was the first trumpet teacher for Wynton Marsalis. While Don enjoyed a performance career with Henry Mancini and the Stan Kenton Band, his works have also been published and played by the Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony and Louisville Symphony.

The concert will feature also Susan Radloff and Sonia Larson, Blair’s violin and voice teachers, respectively.