Alex Massa and Lawrence Undertaking

Homegrown Musician Alex Massa Brings New Orleans Band Lawrence Undertaking to Rapid City to top off Rally Week

Having gone through a number of groups throughout his studies and career, 28 year old, South Dakota born trumpeter Alex Massa has made it a mission to bring together people from all walks of life and give them music that speaks to everybody’s soul. Lawrence Undertaking is his latest New Orleans musical endeavor and rounds out a busy rally week with a special performance in the Historic Theater of the Performing Arts Center of Rapid City on Sunday, August 14 at 4:00 p.m.

Lawrence Undertaking is a constantly rotating collective of musicians that live in New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans is home to some of the world’s finest musicians in any genre. According to Massa, “The beautiful thing about the city is that it allows and encourages multiple different avenues of performance and growth. Because of this reality, in addition to the little known fact that many musicians here play multiple styles of music with great proficiency, it allows this group to be fairly inconsistent with set-lists, song choices, and styles in which they play.”

That inconsistency lends its hand to a certain freedom that Alex, Shawn Myers (drums), Evan Paydon (bass), and George Wilde (guitar) like to keep during their shows. Playing everything from complex, contemporary instrumental jazz to New Orleans jazz, funk, and R&B standards to Michael Jackson and Garth Brooks covers, every Lawrence Undertaking show is stocked with energy, dancing, listening, and thinking - the way music and art are intended to be experienced.

Alexander Massa, born and raised in the Black Hills of South Dakota, has spent the past 10 years tirelessly studying, practicing, researching, performing, writing, and teaching music in many of its forms. Upon graduation from Northern State University in December of 2011, he was offered a job playing on the high seas with Princess Cruises, where he spent 4 months before heading to obtain his masters degree in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with master trumpeter Mr. Derrick Gardner. The faculty at the U of M helped to begin rounding out his sound and truly instilling a concept of jazz and BAM (Black American Music). Upon leaving Manitoba, he traveled until he landed in New Orleans, Louisiana in early 2013. Since his arrival, he has made it his mission to learn as much as he can about the culture, the music, the food, and the people. While maintaining a busy performance schedule with high-caliber musicians, he has also helped found the Swamp Jam Music Festival, which debuted in 2015, and has recently moved in a more humanitarian direction, giving more time to non-profits and producing events that will directly benefit New Orleans natives and raise awareness to the growing inequality in the area. Lawrence Undertaking is the result of 10 years of dedication to growth as a human, and is also the beginning of a vision to show people that the mind and the heart are stronger than we tend to believe. Every human should have access to food, water, healthcare, and education.
Shawn Myers, drummer from the central coast of California, grew up with a diverse range of musical influences. His main mentors include drummers Billy Hart (Herbie Hancock, Dave Liebman), Jamey Haddad (Paul Simon) and Darrell Voss (Inga Swearingen). Shawn is currently involved in many different projects that have performed at acclaimed festivals such as New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Essence Music Festival, LEAF International Festival and many more. He has traveled to Haiti and Ghana to be a part of each country's musics and learn from their cultures. Shawn has a Bachelors of Music from Oberlin Conservatory and a Masters of Music from University of New Orleans.
Evan Paydon is a professional musician in New Orleans, LA who plays electric and upright bass. His relationship with music is significantly informed by improvisation. He believes it is the responsibility of a musician to become an open window through which the language of music can pass, and to understand music as the contribution of an articulate dialog to a greater conversation, the topic of which is betterment of self and community. He has played or shared the stage with Buddy Guy, Benny Golson, Willy Porter, Russ Johnson, Bill Dickens, Kathy and Dave Jensen (Hornheads, Prince), Warren Weigratz, Simon Townsend, Eric Schoor (Brian Lynch), Jamie Breiwick, Shonn Hinton (John Legend, Lil' Wayne, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott).
George Wilde grew up in Chicago, playing jazz in the vibrant youth music programs offered by public schools, civic organizations and philanthropic groups. He got the opportunity to study with Bobby Broom (Bobby Broom Trio, Deep Blue Organ Trio as well as Sonny Rollins, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ramsey Lewis) who instilled presence and passion in George's approach, inspired by a foundation in Black American Music (#BAM). He graduated in 2013 from Tulane University in New Orleans and plays as a sideman and bandleader in the city, including the free-love psychedelic funk outfit Sexual Thunder!