Laurie Lewis learned to play the violin as a child in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a teenager in the 1960s, she immersed herself in the city's thriving folk scene and fell in love with the innovative bluegrass of Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and especially Doc Watson. She won numerous fiddling contests during the 1970s and was in and out of assorted area combos. Together with friend Kathy Kallick, Lewis co-founded the pioneering bluegrass group Good Ol' Persons in 1975 and remained with the popular group until 1979. She then formed the Grant Street String Band before bowing as a solo artist with 1986's Restless Rambling Heart (Flying Fish), which mixed old-timey sounds with contemporary bluegrass and folk.