Benjamin Carl Paul Lawrenz (Benj) was born 7.7.1975 to John and Phoebe Lawrenz. He began playing music already at a young age encouraged by his mother who had trained to be a concert pianist. He picked up the alto saxophone during his grade school years in Saginaw MI, which morphed into a first chair (and only chair) position for tenor sax in the Michigan Lutheran Seminary Pep Band. It was around this time that he discovered the guitar.
While his father was a mission pastor in Gainesville, FL an optimistic member gave Pastor Lawrenz a guitar in hopes that he would learn it. Optimism didn’t translate into music however. The guitar was unstrung, packed away, transported, and laid to rest in a back closet in the Lawrenz house until young Benj found it. After scouring a few books, and tuning it to the piano Benj fell in love and has not put the instrument down since.
In high school he performed a few events with fellow classmates in a group called Indian Circle. It wasn’t until College that Benj teamed up with more ambitous musicians Phil Retberg, Andy Schwartz, Art Faught, Jason Ewert, and Peter Reese to form Good Mustard. Good Mustard began as cover band and slowly morphed into something more serious as members drifted away and Lawrenz began writing his own material. After acquiring drummer Robert Buss, the power trio of Bob Buss, Peter Reese, and Benj Lawrenz was set. They primarily played in Milwaukee with a few tours to the US Northwest while living out of their van. Interspersed in this time was a one-year stint at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.
Settling down in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, Benj, Bob and Pete became 3 of the founding 5 members of Koiné. Together with Brian Davison and Seth Bauer Koiné grew from a weekend project to a more demanding endeavor. As the volume of requests increased, members unable to keep up drifted away and a new cast was assembled. First came drummer Seth Kock, then Bassist Matt Scott.
Today, Benj lives in the Brewers Hill Neighborhood in Milwaukee’s North side. He is married with 4 children. When not playing in Koiné, Benj can be seen restoring an 1860’s Victorian Duplex that he acquired while learning carpentry during the Good Mustard era.
Benj plays Landric Electric Guitars.