Justin Lavash (born London 1968) has been based in Prague for ten years and during that time has established himself as a must-see act on the Czech music scene and abroad. His music crosses borders – somewhere between blues, folk and jazz. His phenomenal guitar playing has left many audiences wondering how so much polyphony can be made by one man on one instrument. Lavash identifies himself as a fingerstyle guitarist, following in the footsteps of British folk guitar gurus like Richard Thompson or John Martyn, but he is of a younger generation and traces of New Wave and even dance culture can be found in his music. Prior to living in the Czech Republic Lavash worked as a guitarist in south London’s jazz scene in the 90s and later in the last years of the British Cabaret scene, backing acts whose names shall not be mentioned.
His voice is deep and raw and entices the listener to sit and absorb the beautiful songs this artist has penned. In fact his skills as a performer are matched with his talents as a songwriter. He has written or co-written and performed songs by some of the Czech Republic’s most repected artists – Lenka Dusilova (“Brother” on Baromantika and “Mayday” on V hodine smrtii), Michal Horacek (“Dizzy and stranded in Prague” from Cesky Kalendar), Sunflower Caravan (“A little bit more”), Monika Naceva (“Milostny Slabiky”) and he has also worked with Raduza (Marathon), DG307 and Vladimir Merta. Two of his songs (“Brother” and ” Dizzy and stranded in Prague” were on releases which received prizes in the Czech gramophone industry’s Andel awards in 2012 and 2013. His latest studio album, Changing of Tides (Tranzistor, May 2015) shows Lavash flexing some songwriting muscle, and moves through genres like blues, country, jazz, funk, soul and electronica with breathtaking ease. The constant is Lavash’s voice and inimitable guitar playing, leading each song from the front and ensuring that the album embraces genre more as perspective than pastiche. There are guest appearances from top Czech artists like singer Lenka Dusilova and pianist Beata Hlavenkova as well as a guest vocal from Dan Reed Network’s lead man on the driving “Keep on pushing forward”. The album won top marks in the Czech national press and features regularly on Czech radio.