Jim Lawlor came to music performance late at age 20. He had moved to the new gambling Mecca, Atlantic City NJ, in 1979 from his native Philadelphia and found it bursting with possibilities. After navigating some rough starts, he found his mentor, local legend Chris Columbo, who had been a long time drummer with Louis Jordan, and was the father of drumming legend Sonny Payne. Through his many decades of experience, his friendship, and guidance, Jim learned how to feel the very soul of jazz music, how to really listen, and how to properly accompany others.
Jim soon went on to become a familiar face in Atlantic City clubs and casino lounges, as well as clubs up and down the many Jersey Shore resorts. He and the Midiri Brothers discovered each other at the Atlantic City Sands Casino in 1989. Successful runs with their small groups and large orchestra ensued, and it is a musical and personal friendship that still endures.