By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Region – Singer-songwriter and guitarist Mick Lawless, a Southborough native now residing in Milford, began collecting vinyl records as a youngster and became a fan of The Monkees’ pop-rock songs.
Decades later, Lawless performs The Monkees’ repertoire in bands and at solo acoustic gigs. On several occasions, he has shared stages with two of The Monkees. Additionally, Lawless has been selling vinyl records and vintage collectibles as owner of the Nevermind Shop in Upton since 2008.
“I started collecting records in grade school – and it just kept going and going,” he relayed.
While attending Southborough elementary and middle schools, he participated in music and theater programs. His commitment to the performing arts continued at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough, where he graduated in 1980.
“My elective at Assabet was business and I always stayed involved in the arts,” he noted. “Music was the class I looked forward to the most. It was the only course I ever got an ‘A’ in.”
Beginning in the early-1990s, Lawless played bass in The Missionaries goth-rock band with guitarist Rich Maliska and drummer Doug Wedge. Rounding out the band was a female vocalist described in the now-defunct Worcester Phoenix newspaper review as “a hot-looking singer who would come unglued at a moment’s notice.” Lawless concurs with the assessment.
“You never knew what you were going to get from her,” he acknowledged. “It made for great theater!”
The instrumentalists continued for several years as a trio named White Knuckle Sobriety. In 1998, they released their well-reviewed album “Fat End First.”
“White Knuckle Sobriety was basically The Missionaries minus the singer,” Lawless explained.
Along the way, Lawless estimates he has written about 300 songs. He credits a particular composer as his “greatest influence.”
“Even as a young child, I found that Michael Nesmith’s songs always spoke to me – his candor and insight,” he said.
In 2004, Lawless formed the Loose Salute band to perform mostly music of Nesmith and The Monkees. Loose Salute was named after Nesmith’s First National Band’s 1970 album.
As a pinnacle gig, Lawless cites Loose Salute backing Peter Tork performing at 2009’s Super MegaFest at Framingham’s Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center. They were joined onstage by Micky Dolenz covering The Beatles song “Oh! Darling.”
“This gig gave us an opportunity to go forward and play with great musicians,” Lawless noted.
In addition to multiple gigs with Dolenz and Tork individually, Loose Salute performed alongside musical artists such as Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night and Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & the Raiders.
Nesmith and Lawless had communicated via social media before ultimately meeting in-person at a 2018 First National Band concert in Dallas.
Lawless recounted, “I’ll never forget Mike saying in his Texas drawl, ‘So you’re Mick Lawless!’ We had a great time talking about Loose Salute.”
Like many bands, Loose Salute experienced some personnel changes. Pedal steel guitarist Mike Castellano performed with Loose Salute up to 2009. Joining the band in 2011 were lead guitarist Tom Yates, bassist Pete Zolli and drummer Keith Prescott.
With a growing number of original songs, Lawless formed another band to play his compositions along with classic covers and Monkees’ favorites. Since 2017, Mick Lawless and the Reckless Hearts have performed original, alternative, folk and pop music. Bandmates are drummer Doug Wedge, lead guitarist Ken Kaiser and Lawless’ son, bassist Derek.
In 2018, they released their CD titled “On Your Frequency Line.”
“I’m very happy with the album and looking forward to releasing more original material,” Lawless said.
He’s also happily running the Nevermind Shop, stocked with mementos of the rock ‘n’ roll era from the 1950s to now. According to Lawless, 70 percent of sales are vinyl records.
“We’re always buying record collections,” he shared. “I enjoy the thrill of not knowing what’s going to come in every day that I open the door.”