Monday, June 27, 2011

Music – Shannon Curfman

Two years after Jonny Lang came along Shannon Curfman followed him up with her own debut album, Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions, in 1999.  She was just fourteen years old.  She had written and recorded the music when she was thirteen.  She garnered immediate attention for her ability to make her voice sound decades older than she was.  She could also play a pretty mean guitar.  Comparisons to Bonnie Raitt were numerous.

How does a teenage white girl from Fargo, North Dakota end up being such a celebrated new Blues musician?  Jonny Lang had come out of her hometown just two years earlier and set the Blues world on fire.  He was a major inspiration for her.  He co-wrote one of the songs on her album and played guitar on a few more.  She followed the same path he did to Minneapolis and signed her own recording contract.

If anything, her debut was even more celebrated than Jonny Lang's was.  He had gotten people to accept the fact that a white kid from the upper Midwest could play the Blues, so she didn’t have to fight that battle.  She did have to make people take her seriously as a fourteen year old girl playing the Blues, though.  She got a lot of help from the music critics.  Here is what Rolling Stone magazine had to say about her debut:

“Scorching blues guitar and gritty female vocals from a wunderkind who sounds like the younger sister of Jonny Lang. But Lang would probably feel a little heat from the competition -- Curfman was only thirteen when she recorded her debut, yet her singing and playing have the soul of someone many years her senior. Curfman speaks eloquently through her guitar. She's got a crazy skill for melody and an ability to extract real meaning and with the help of a top-shelf band, she turns in an introductory statement that makes you want to hear more. Her instrumental mastery is undeniable.”

Lang, being a talented young guitarist, would often be asked who he thought might be coming along after him.  Here is what he had to say:

“As far as young guitarists go, there's this girl in Minneapolis named Shannon Curfman. She does the old Chaka Khan funky blues kind of stuff.  She's only fourteen or fifteen, and she scares me.”

Here is Curfman playing at Farm Aid 2000.  Despite what the title of the video says, she had actually only turned fifteen less than two months before.  The songs she performs are I’m Coming Home, If You Change Your Mind, and Playing with Fire, all of which she co-wrote.  The best example of her guitar playing starts at the end of Playing with Fire (roughly the 13 minute mark.)  It’s also my favorite of the three songs.

Having to live up to all the hype was difficult when it came time for a follow-up album.  It was seven long years before she released Fast Lane Addiction.  The music on this one was much more in the rock and roll vein.  She released a third album, What You’re Getting Into in 2010.  This was more Bluesish music again.  She also joined Kid Rock that same year and performs with him, playing guitar and singing the Sheryl Crow parts on his songs.

She’s now twenty-five, a mother, and still plays a pretty mean guitar.  I have not heard her second and third albums, but I own her first one and I definitely recommend it.  All of the songs performed in the video above are on this album.

[Note: the links below are to CDs.  Links for the MP3 downloads are at the same page, so I did not include separate links for them here.]

     First Album            Second Album           Third Album           

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