Ben Shannon

Ben Shannon

 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
SoloFolkSinger/Songwriter

Ben Shannon is a national award winning songwriter residing in Pennsylvania and performing regionally. A multi-instrumentalist with formal training in poetry, Ben was the New York Song Circle 2012 finalist, an ASCAP LA Lester Sill Songwriter in 2013, and the 2015 winner of the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriter Showcase. He has released two albums, Move On 2013 and Farewell Mountain 2016.

Band Press

Ben Shannon comes home with ‘Farewell Mountain’ – Pittsburgh Post Gazzette

Ben Shannon had an eventful summer, spending July and August on a nationwide tour that included a stop at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival on a bill with the Decemberists, a prize for having won the festival’s 2015 Songwriter Showcase.

The Nashville-born Pittsburgh-bred singer-songwriter who teaches English at Shaler High School says the tour went so well, “ I literally punched myself in the face for not doing it every year up till now.”

Although it was a solo acoustic tour, it supported a very polished second album, “Farewell Mountain,” recorded at Treelady Studios in Turtle Creek with producer Dave Hidek and a cast that included guitarists Chris Parker and Dan Marcus, keyboardist Skip Sanders and drummer Dave Throckmorton, among others.

He says that while he feels like he do could a “great stripped-down dirty folk album, when you have these players and that studio team, you don’t do a one-mic, one-guitar record — you build a castle.”

“Farewell Mountain,” which includes musical settings of two classic poems — W.B.Yeats’ “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” and Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” — is a rich and sometimes rocking Americana record that he describes as a “midlife-crisis album in which almost every song is in part a meditation on death and the inevitability of loss and disappointment.”

Move On – June Caldwell, Bryan Farrish Promotion

Artist: Ben Shannon
Album: Move On

Ben Shannon delivers an intimate album that gently shows his range while at the same time a signature style. Ben’s music can fit right in to AAA, Country, Blues and Adult Contemporary music lovers. Fans of: The Eagles, Jack Johnson, and Tim McGraw will all come together to add Ben Shannon to their favorites.

Track #1 Break on Through – A sassy bluesy beginning to this album pulls you in right from the first notes. This is an upbeat song that I can see playing full blast riding through the lush countryside on the cd’s artwork. Strong melody line shows off Ben’s ease with a range of vocals. You will want to sing along after one listening to “Break on through!” This song is perfect for roots blues radio.

Track #5 You Got Away – A more laid back track will help you get away from all your troubles. Breathtaking vocal harmonies and a poignant sweet melody have a way of winning the listeners heart. This is a true love song, which is the staple of adult contemporary radio.

Track #9 Don’t Break My Momma’s Heart – Heartfelt song perfect for country radio. Catchy music telling a story that rings true with the twists and turns of life. A story about his Mom that is going back to school and a guy comes in a pick up truck to sweep her off her feet. He is warning him not to break his momma’s heart. I won’t giveaway the story but he rhymes “brand new start” with “broke my mamma’s heart”! I was totally engrossed in it. Emotional slide guitar, a strong voice, a catchy chorus, and a real life down to Earth story to make a powerful memorable song.

Reviewed by June Caldwell, Bryan Farrish Promotion

Triple A Radio Friendly – Pittsburgh City Paper

The familiar local singer-songwriter takes on some heavy subjects in his debut release -- local depopulation, family strife -- but doesn't let it weigh him down. The country-influenced pop singer is joined by an all-star local cast (David Throckmorton, Skip Sanders, Autumn Ayers, Paul Luc) on the recording, which is largely made up of narrative tunes that range from slightly sluggish to straight-up rockin' ("Addiction Road"). It's Triple-A radio-friendly and an admirable first effort with occasional lyrical gold nuggets ("No one is cryin'/ That's just water that's tryin'/ To turn itself back into rain," in "Ghost Town", for example). The titular final track is the record's real gem. -- Andy Mulkerin

American Songwriter Announces Top 12 For 5th Annual Songwriting Contest – American Songwriter

New York, November 9, 2010 – The SongCircle (www.songcirclemusic.com) is proud to announce that from the thousands of entries it received for its fifth annual songwriting contest the field has been narrowed down to a top 12. The twelve finalists are Charleston, SC’s Slow Runner, Los Angeles, CA and Fairview, OH’s Lucius, Milwaukee’s Mighty Kate, New York City’s Todd Alsup, Kansas born-and-bred Barnaby Bright, Pittsburgh’s Ben Shannon, Coopersberg, PA’s Freak Owls, Seattle’s Merrily James, New Jersey’s Amber Skye, Chicago’s Stephanie Nilles, Brendon Thomas from Vermont and Flearoy from Macon, GA.

The SongCircle’s contest, a hotbed for discovering aspiring artists, has helped launch the careers of previous grand prize winners Kate Voegele (Interscope), Company Of Thieves (Wind-Up/Sony), Mieka Pauley, and Reed Waddle.

The SongCircle also revealed today that up and coming Canadian singer songwriter and fiddle virtuoso Sierra Noble is the 2010 recipient of its “International Writers Award” and Brett Steinberg from Greenwhich, CT, wowed the judges to take first place in the 2010 “Young Songwriters Award.” Finishing second in the “Young Songwriters” competition was Kelsey Muse of Nashville, TN, followed closely by Clay Garner from Connecticut.

“This was not an easy decision with all the amazing talent that came through our site this year,” said Tina Shafer, founder/artistic director for the SongCircle. “We listened carefully to every song before coming up with our amazing group of finalists.”

The SongCircle’s 2010 Grand Prize winner will be determined by live performances by the twelve finalists before an esteemed panel of judges on November 18 and the 19th at the City Winery in New York City.

The contestants will be competing for over $25,000 in cash and prizes for the best original songs which includes a recording, publishing and full label services joint venture agreement with SongCircle Music distributed by EMI, cash awards up to $10,000, a chance to perform at the Bethlewoods Center for the Arts, guitars from Gibson and Martin, studio sessions with a top record producers, and more. The songs were judged based on structure, melody, lyrics, uniqueness and performance/presentation.

Ben Shannon: Live – Neighborhood Voices: Saturday Light Brigade Radio

He’s the real deal. Talented, sincere and genuine! Love his music and love to see him live!

A real person who loves life and sharing it. Talented and good hearted. Lovely!

Get Out! – Beaver County Times

Nashville-born, Pittsburgh-raised singer Ben Shannon hopes "Break on Through" will be his breakout track.
The opening cut of a debut album he will release Friday, "Break on Through" is a Jason Mraz-meets-Citizen Cope-ish slice of plain-spoken pop. A song aimed at the commitment-phobe in us all, here's a verse: "You saw her in a coffee shop/sippin' on a double shot/Typin' something slow on a silver laptop/She was looking real hot/Wanna give her what you got/You think once, you think twice/and you think 'I think not.'"
Another of Shannon's songs, "Don't Break My Momma's Heart" sounds like Lyle Lovett at first, before taking a surprise dark turn.

Tidbits – Beaver County Times

WYEP morning host Cindy Howes also asked me to contribute to the station's year-end local music review.
Howes asked me to pick three favorite local releases.
Wow, tough task there, but keeping in mind 'YEP's adult album alternative format, I selected the self-titled album from the Bastard Bearded Irishmen, "Shifting" by J.D. Eicher & the Goodnights, and "Move On" by Ben Shannon.

91.3 WYEP: The Buzz – 91.3 WYEP

Ben Shannon, “Break on Through” – This Nashville-born, Pittsburgh-based artist launches his debut album with a catchy Jason Mraz-meets-Citizen Cope-ish slice of plain-spoken pop. The lyrics are aimed at the commitment-phobe in us all: “You saw her in a coffee shop/sippin’ on a double shot/Typin’ something slow on a silver laptop/She was looking real hot/Wanna give her what you got/You think once, you think twice/and you think ‘I think not.’”

Ben Shannon Move On – The Herald Standard

“Sometimes you got to judge a book by its cover,” sings Ben Shannon on the opener “Break On Through.” Judging by this likeable and infectious arrangement which follows in the footsteps of the laid-back style of Jack Johnson, Shannon has a promising musical future ahead of him. The Nashville-born and Pittsburgh-raised singer-songwriter breaks on through in a big way with his full-length debut release “Move On.”
The raw emotion displayed on songs like “Without a Lie,” “Ghost Town” and “Darpo,” showcases the depth of the lyrical content and add an honest charm to the organic instrumental structure. The simplicity of Shannon’s arrangements parallels some of the older works of Bob Dylan in texture and style.
Shannon’s backing band is stellar with a beautiful blend of banjo, violin, cello, mandolin, organ, piano and guitar that add an attractively rich layer to his picturesque wording.

Ben Shannon breaks on through – Pittsburgh Post Gazzette

Some songwriters just pick it up on the streets. Ben Shannon did that and went the academic route as well.

The Nashville native, who moved to Pittsburgh when he was 4, started writing for the Peabody High School journal and went on to create a street-culture magazine called Urban Visions.

Now, he's an English teacher with a bachelor of arts degree in writing from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's from Duquesne. He cites his influences as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Tracy Chapman.

Throw in the fact that he was an accomplished skateboarder, for a little danger, and a background that deep leads to some vivid lyrics -- like "She hits you on your blind side/gets you so you're tongue tied/Makes you watch her/while she serves your heart to you deep fried."

It comes from "Break on Through," the opening track from "Move On," an easy-flowing folk-rock debut that highlights his melodic vocals and a strong supporting cast featuring bassist Justin Brown, drummer David Throckmorton, violinist Matt Pickart, cellist Rachel Smith and organist Skip Sanders.

If his name sounds familiar, it might be because two of Mr. Shannon's songs, "Move On" and "Wanted," were featured in WYEP's best-of local music show "Year in Review."

He notes in his bio that the first song he could play was "Mr. Tambourine Man" and that he started writing songs in ninth grade.

A decade later, he was riding in the car, going to meet up with his band Pledge Drive, when he heard Darrel Scott's "Great Day to Be Alive" come on the radio.

"Listening then I knew I wanted to write plain-spoken songs that talked sense and had something to say."

A good example from the album would be "Ghost Town," a song about an idyllic little place victimized by hard times. "No one is cryin'," he sings, "that's just water tryin' to turn itself back into rain."

Just about every song on "Move On" comes with one of those gems.

You can check out Ben Shannon on the WDVE coffeehouse (102.5 FM) Friday at 9 a.m. The release show is at 8 p.m. Friday at the Rex with New York City duo Barnaby Bright, Mark Dignam, Broken Fences and Frank DiNardo. Admission is $10 for 21+/$5 for 17+ with student ID.

From Nashville to Pittsburgh – CD Baby

Author: Christopher Mark Jones

I really like this disc. There are some lyrics that are just right: "sorry bout the year we lost / walkin' in our sleep / sorry 'bout my nickname /tatooed on your cheek" -- among others, the kind of writing you just give thanks for when it happens and don't try too hard to understand. Ben writes in a sort of alt-Nashville mode that I find very appealing. Tunes like Ghost Town and Addiction Road definitely add some meat to the bones of the album with social commentary, and the Keb Mo-esque Darpo makes a nice break. If there were any justice, Don't Break My Momma's Heart would get him some joy in Nashville... love the insouciant swing of Break on Through.

The production is fabulous; Autumn Ayers singing harmony on Wanted gives me chills. The pedal steel and string contributions (Without a Lie) are seamless, and the electric guitars add muscle. I really like the way many of the tracks build from acoustic intros into full-fledged wails. Lots of good textures--organ, Rhodes, acoustic piano.

Production is punchy, with the rhythm section pretty hot--David Throckmorton hits the snare hard all the way through.

Executive summary: best thing i've heard this year in Pittsburgh. Come to think of it, anywhere else either.

Unbelievable! – ITunes/Ryan Poole

I was actually just at his concert in the Southside of Pittsburgh last night, and I'm going to be honest, I was VERY pleasantly surprised. I was truly inspired by his music. His voice is to die for, the harmonies were great, the overall balance of every member of teh band was absolutely beautiful. And I overall just loved the sound that this wonderful band has. I wish these guys the best. Lord knows they deserve it.

Ben Shannon is the winner of 2015 Folks Fest – Redstone Review

"Shannon was born into a folk singing family..."

Farewell Mountain Review – The Funhouse Mr. Smalls

Ben Shannon (Ben Shannon Music) is releasing his second full length studio album after a coast to coast string of shows that landed him an opening slot for Connor Oberst and Mavis Staples. FAREWELL MOUNTAIN is his best album to date and follows the wide ranging stylistic template found on his debut album MOVE ON. Flexing the same high polished production quality courtesy of TreeLady studios' Dave Hidek, FAREWELL MOUNTAIN is artistically a more mature album with Shannon having expanded dynamically and structurally with arrangements that breathe more freely. With four co-written tracks and two musical settings of classic poems, (W.B.Yeats' "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death" and Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz"), FAREWELL MOUNTAIN is a testament to Shannon's collaborative abilities.

Spanning from plaintive Americana folk to fully orchestrated Rock ballads, FAREWELL MOUNTAIN finds thematic cohesion in the socio-cultural ripple effects of a region shaped by multiple generations of an energy extraction economy and the bitter irony of "home" as a place one primarily leaves behind.

This could be easily be categorized as a "midlife crisis" album in which almost every song is in part a meditation on death and the inevitability of loss and disappointment. The 44year old Shannon delivers a wry litany of dissatisfaction on the track "So Long Heaven" from the first person perspective of a wayward soul. Heaven itself is merely annoying stop-over on the way to a paradise on earth and a family "waiting on a new life". Yet there is a yearning in each of these songs for a level of tranquility only possible when one releases ones attachment to the mountain of material possessions. Shannon drives this sentiment home on the last line of "All I Remember," which is the last track on the record: "all that matters anyhow is the love."

Outdoorsy – Outdoorsy

"This easy to see music fest can be viewed from a blanket, if so desired, and it features one of the best sound systems in the world.

You can camp on-site at the Planet Bluegrass Ranch, or at several local campgrounds, whichever works for you and your RV. Musicians include the Decemberists, Ben Shannon, Kathy Mattea and Darlingside, with many others to make an appearance."