In all of my years as a promoter or a musician, I seldom come upon a guitar genius with such flare and poise until I happened upon John Sheehan. A guitar style from the Jersey area that speaks to you in a subliminal way. I play guitar but I can’t hold a candle to Mr. Sheehan, and if I tried, I would be there until my hands were covered in wax, no doubt. Sheehan bordering on many styles of influential guitar work has sent a message to the world through those lovely 6 strings and I want to help push it further into a world that has long forgotten the beauty of such things. I am going to place where I hope to find answers from genius. I am going to get into the mind of a soon to be guitar legend.
GOM: Hi John, welcome to the beat beast’s lair. So tell me, when was your first experience with a guitar?
John Sheehan: Well, In junior high school ,at about 14 years old, I remember hitting the low E string on some friends unused guitar and scratching my nail against it and realized I had just discovered the intro to “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles. I felt like I was cool for a few days. Two years later I picked up the guitar and never put it down.
GOM: What did you think you were going to do in the future with being an aspiring guitar player?
John Sheehan: A few months after I picked up the guitar for good (my sophmore year in high school),I announced to everyone in my family and my friends that I was going to be a guitarist/musician. I was viewed as quite the jerk by almost everybody, especially the baseball coach.
GOM: (laughs) Who was your most influential guitarist then?
John Sheehan: Unreservedly,John Fahey
GOM: Excellent choice, what about now? Who’s your biggest influence now?
John Sheehan: More so than any one guitarist it’s usually a genre of music that influences me. Lately I’m enjoying Jazz saxaphone I hear on the radio while driving to gigs. Coltrane,Pharoh Sanders etc. I love Rennaisance and Baroque lute and classical guitar and the composers of those periods :John Dowland ,Fernando Sor,JS Bach,F.Carulli.and plenty of others.Rock guitarists; Mark Knophler,Eric Clapton,and Steve Morse have always had my ears. Soloists; Jorma,John Renbourne,Joe Pass, Charlie Byrd and all the old blues and Ragtime players. Also,Country players like Doc Watson and Norman Blake and the bluegrass repertoire.
GOM: Damn that’s a hell of a list. So tell me, were you ever in a band?
John Sheehan: Several bluegrass and country rock bands as well as Blues/Rock bands and a few pop bands. It was all cover material at bar gigs, parties, weddings,etc. I did a little singing, played mandolin and banjo once in a while but mostly electric and acoustic lead guitar playing.
GOM: So, why the solo career? A guitarist of your aptitude could take his pick of bands out there.
John Sheehan: I prefer playing solo it draws on my classical guitar backround in a big way.I guess I like the control I have to do what I want. I write and play so much original solo instrumental fingerstyle that desires to be in a band have been squelched. I do miss ripping it up on electric,guitar,however. But hey,if I had a band that I could do a lot of writing for and with that would be great!
GOM: Give us the John Sheehan “Philosophy of Life”.
John Sheehan: Do what you want to,define and attain your goals by developing a strong sense of self, but don’t hurt anyone in the process. See my song “LIFE SONG”
GOM: John, you seem like a very mellow fellow, what’s it like living with John Sheehan in an everyday setting?
John Sheehan: We get along most of the time.But his laziness annoys the hell out of me!
GOM: What are your favorite venues to play?
John Sheehan: House concerts,Folk Fests and clubs where I can play my cd material for an enthusiastic audience that are there to listen. Also, restaurants, wedding ceremonies and dinner parties, where I can combine classical with my instrumental fingerstlye originals.
GOM: Least favorite?
John Sheehan: Low paying cover gigs,where the audience treats you like a court jester or a slave. I like all my gigs these days!
GOM: Ok if you had to choose, what would you prefer “Martin 6-string” or “Taylor 6-string”? (I had to ask)
John Sheehan: Day in and day out a Martin, richer sounding. They cut a noisy room great!! I did however get a nice recording out of my Taylor 8-12C on “Buggy Ride”. I appreciate variety. They both have their applications. I also love to play my Panhuyzen classical.”Sleepy Eyes”,”Ancestry”,”Cliffs of Moher”,”Beauty Road”,”Governor Mountain”,and “Jump into the Fire”, were all recorded using that guitar.And of course there’s the Strat….
GOM: Do you have a favorite song that you have written? Everyone usually has that one song that is special to them, What is yours and tell us why?
John Sheehan: Not really. Each song has a mood and it’s my favorite for the moment, but “The Villian” has been with me the longest so I might favor that one. Also, I played it in a guitar competition and it helped me win a Martin D-16 which I use gigging and recording. So that song has earned it’s keep in a big way. A fairly recent song “Imprint” is special to me as well as two other new ones “Last night in a dream”, and “Self made man”. They all show a side of me I don’t think I’ve let out before.
GOM: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?
John Sheehan: Not done as many low paying cover gigs,otherwise everything was good experience. Perhaps, I should have believed stronger in myself earlier on as a composer/songwriter.
GOM: Good answer, I think a lot of us felt that way early on. What is your greatest guitar achievement?
John Sheehan: Completing my first cd; “Instrumental Solo Guitar”
Well Thanks for being such a good influence on my songwriting since I have first played your music. Perhaps I could send you a copy of my new demo when its done and get you to critique it. Well there you have it folks, the words of a genius John Sheehan. I would highly recommend you visiting his page at http://www.mp3.com/johnsheehan and downloading some great tunes. Well, this is the beat beast signing off, peace.