Marshall Lamm supports music in the schools, and whatever MC Hammer wants

In addition to being a longtime board member of Music in Schools Today, Marshall Lamm was the publicist of the renowned west coast jazz club Yoshi’s for eight years before launching Marshall Lamm Promotions and Public Relations in January of 2006.

Prior to Yoshi’s, he founded Astor Place Recordings in New York, an imprint of Profile Records, the home of famed rap group Run DMC. He was also director of publicity at GRP Records, which included Impulse!, Chess, Decca, Blue Thumb, and other labels, and he began his career as a publicist at Verve Records.

SVR: Do you have a favorite story about your career in the music business?

Marshall: There are so many! From backstage at Metallica in Dallas with the Moss Brothers to making a CD with Jason Newsted to seeing all of the great jazz artists, but one that my friends sure like is this one. I helped start Astor Place Recordings with Profile Records in New York, the home of Run DMC and other rap artists. On several occasions, rappers would come up to the office and have a beef with someone, or there were threats and the like. One day, MC Hammer and Eric B, the DJ, came up to the office. I was a big Eric B and Rakim fan, so I went to introduce myself to them and as I got closer, MC Hammer looked at me and motioned into his jacket like he was pulling a gun out to shoot me or something. It was more funny than scary. At that time Hammer was on Death Row; they wanted to talk about Run DMC with the label owner. Turned out that a few days later Tupac Shakur was killed in Las Vegas, on the way from the Tyson fight to a Run DMC show at a local club. I have now met Hammer a few times and I did bring this up with him. He certainly remembered me!

SVR: Tell us about your work with young people in your business.

Marshall: I try and do so much with young people, from my involvement with several local organizations including SFJAZZ, Yerba Buena Gardens, Union Square, Music In Schools Today, and the Oaktown Jazz Workshop. When I was at Yoshi’s I created the very popular and ongoing Sunday matinee series to create an environment for families and to cultivate the future jazz lovers. As the publicist for SFJAZZ, families are very important and the organization presents family matinee programs; some have included the amazing Orff programs. I have worked with the Young Musicians program at Cal and have worked extensively as a board member of the Oaktown Jazz Workshop. I also book and promote the annual Jazz on 4th Street festival in Berkeley that benefits the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble. I am most proud of my work with the Moss Brothers, Reuben and Evan. I produced their two albums, the second of which included Jason Newsted. Reuben is now a sophomore at Stanford and Evan is a senior at Cal.

SVR: Why should music and art be taught in schools?

Marshall: If music and arts are not taught in school, where else can they be taught? Kids need active programs from recess to arts and music. It is imperative that creativity is fostered and nurtured not only at school but also at home.

SVR: Based on your experience mentoring young people, how does music education help kids academically and personally?

Marshall: It helps by giving kids discipline, goals, and the courage to overcome difficult obstacles, and to conquer seemingly insurmountable challenges in life.

SVR: Was there an important person in your life who provided a positive influence on your becoming involved in music?

Marshall: Duke Dubois at GRP Records. He passed away several years ago, but he had a profound effect on my life, as well as the lives of many others.

SVR: Tell us why you support Music in Schools Today.

Marshall: MuST is one of the best youth music programs that I have worked with. The people involved truly care about the future of the arts and are committed to seeing that kids can realize their dreams.