John Sheehan
Gig Seeker Pro

John Sheehan

Band Folk Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Press Review"

John Sheehan "Modern Man", 1999 John Sheehan, on his 1995 CD "Instrumental Solo Guitar", doesn't so much blend classical and fingerstyle blues forms as jump the chasm separating these styles back and forth and tune-by-tune. And he does it astoundingly well. On "Modern Man" Sheehan chooses to toss his hat into the ring with a cadre of fellow players who definitely tend towards rootsier things. He also suppresses his virtuosic guitar impulses to concentrate on vocals and lyrics on six of the 16 original tunes herein, as well as pick up the banjo on six. He does the latter too often in my mind, only because it makes less room on the CD for the solo fingerstyle gems such as "Old Mill Rag" and "Cliffs of Moher". His forays into the vocal arena are very successful, carrying both the biting social satire and feel-good aura of Jimmy Buffett. -

""Notes from Suburbia" is # 14 of top forty 2004 Cd's"

Reviewer: Rebecca Schmoyer

The 13 pieces on John Sheehan's latest CD, wryly titled “Notes from Suburbia”, offer a wealth of finger picking as they reflect on human experience — from the revealing nature of dreams to the discovery of the awe-inspiring in the mundane. John Sheehan is a guitarist of unusual and varied accomplishment. “Notes from Suburbia” is John’s third CD and it is diverse, including Renaissance lute pieces, a guitar arrangement of a traditional Irish harp tune and candid songs influenced by jazz, blues and to a lesser degree, eastern music. All of these ingredients form a showcase for expressive, smart and forceful guitar playing. “Notes” opens with ‘Desert Prayer’ an ethereal instrumental reflection on events following the September 11, 2001 tragedy incorporating the blues and a melody suggestive of North Indian devotional music. With tablâ accompaniment, ‘Last Night in a Dream’— a song about the consciousness-expanding power of dreams — is reminiscent of a 1992 collaboration between blues guitarist Ry Cooder and the Indian musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Throughout “Notes” John employs a sophisticated variety of chords in his arrangements of songs and instrumentals. ‘Together we Dream’ is a moody contemporary fingerstyle piece. ‘Cabin Fever’, a driving, acrobatic boogie of ascending and descending licks and chords, leaves you breathless. (It should really be witnessed live to be believed.) The CD’s final song, ‘All Around Me Now’ brings to light John’s ability to draw inspiration from the natural world, as well as his ongoing fascination with mushrooms. This regard for nature, along with John’s lack of cynicism and his respect for the aspirations of the individual, makes me feel that in addition to being a great guitar album, the songwriting on “Notes” is quite transcendental. And in these politically and economically uncertain times, appreciation of the transcendental is unquestionably an American sensibility worth nurturing.

"Notes From Suburbia Review"

John Sheehan plays the guitar like a man in mid-conversation. On Notes From Suburbia he picks, strums, and sings his way through 13 audio lectures, on topics ranging from self-made men, to imported beer and mushrooms. Sheehan is first and foremost an instrumentalist, and his gifted fingers flip through the pages of six-string history with a dexterity that rivals heroes like Doc Watson and Leo Kottke. His love for classical, jazz, blues, and folk finds its way into almost every piece, allowing for a worldly breadth of emotion that causes self-penned tunes, such as "Cabin Fever," to resonate with the same personality as traditional pieces like "Five Ricercars." As a vocalist, Sheehan employs a dusty croon that brings to mind a less mumbly Mark Knopfler — an obvious influence on his electric guitar work — and filters his wry observations into an easy matter-of-fact dialogue with the listener. The nostalgic "Imprint," a sweet salute to the inspired and inspiring, is among the record's finest offerings, and "It Don't Come Easy" features a first-rate melody and fine harmonies from Jessie Holladay. While "Last Night In a Dream," with its subtle percussion and moody atmospherics, showcases Sheehan's bluesy roots — and is strangely reminiscent of "Books of Moses" by Moby Grape casualty Skip Spence — it's the Celtic-tinged "Lord Inchiquin," and the remarkable "Bader's Field" that place him in the top tier of contemporary folk artists.
- James Christopher Monger, All Music Guide

"Article from 'The Record'"

On the Northeastern folk circuit, guitarist John Sheehan established himself as an independent thinker and a rugged individualist who championed the finger-style techniques of musicians as diverse as Julian Bream, Doc Watson, John Fahey, and Joe Pass.

Sheehan began work in 2001 on new songs and instrumentals for his third CD, Notes From Suburbia, which included "Self-made Man," a tale about a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, an outsider living on the edges of civilization. The disc also showed his versatility on the song "Cabin Fever," a jazzy instrumental inspired by guitarists Tal Farlow, Pass, and Charlie Byrd. On his first two CDs, Instrumental Solo Guitar and Modern Man, Sheehan moved through a wide variety of musical styles, including classical and jazz, folk, bluegrass, and rock. Throughout his career, he tempered his playing with a keen understanding of the techniques and history of all those traditions.

Sheehan was born in Patterson, NJ, on November 1, 1953, but grew up in Wayne, NJ. He began playing guitar at age 16, studying classical music and gaining an appreciation for Bach. He further studied classical guitar at William Patterson University, but dropped out before receiving his degree to pursue his independent spirit by performing in bars, restaurants, and cafés in New Jersey and New York City. During this phase in his career, he became influenced by Doc Watson, Norman Blake, and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Later in his career, Sheehan showed both an old world feeling of the Renaissance and classical traditions and the new world order of roots music expressed in Americana.

Early on, he performed on acoustic guitar, clawhammer banjo, and lute. The latter two he began to play in the '70s. In 1991, he won first place at the Candi-Creek Banjo Works Guitar Competition and got a D-16 Martin guitar, autographed and presented by C.F. Martin. He took first place in the banjo contest at the Old Mill Village Music Competition in New Milford, PA, in 1997.

After years of working in blues, folk, and rock bands, Sheehan decided to concentrate on his solo career in the mid-'90s. He released Instrumental Solo Guitar (1995), which showed his classical side, on his own label, Sheehan CDs, and he followed it up in 1999 with a look into his folk, blues, bluegrass, and rock identity on Modern Man. Instrumental music was his forte early on, but later in his career, he balanced it with songs. His vocal songs showed simple humor, yet could say something profound about humanity.

- Robert Hicks

"UK review of Instrumental Solo Guitar CD"

ARTIST: John Sheehan
CD: "Instrumental Solo Guitar"

In one word: brilliant! In another: dazzling! On this exquisite fingerstyle CD, John uses both nylon and steel stringed instruments and has his own unique and authentic voice, but you can detect influences as varying as John Fahey and J S Bach in his playing.

These 12 self-penned, nigh-on perfect tracks showcase a guitarist and composer at the very top of his game. The compositional structure of the pieces is always astute and underpinned by great melody and rhythmic variety. As for the guitar playing itself, John's superb tone and technique have been honed by decades of dedicated woodshedding. Even at high speed (some of the tunes and passages really do lick along), deft touch and solid time-keeping never desert Sheehan's strings.

There is not one duff track on this collection. From the poignant opener, "Beauty Road" to the sweet nylon tones of the closer, "Sleepy Eyes", this CD is never less than excellent. As mentioned earlier, the tunes cover a number of bases style-wise: wonderfully rollicking ragtime on "Insomnia"... driving country blues on "Hogfarm"... stupendous steel string baroque speed picking on "The Villain"... the perfectly formed and classical sounding "Ancestry"... and many captivating and sonorously gorgeous shades in between.

Although John Sheehan paints from a broad musical palette, he manages to weave together these varied stylistic elements into a satisfying and unified whole. And hats off to the engineer, Don Sternaker, for helping to achieve this unity and capturing a great natural sound.

Fingerstyle fans, take note: "Instrumental Solo Guitar" is fretboard artistry of the highest calibre. You should definitely have this one in your collection. And a stroke of luck for us players is that tab for the tunes on the CD are also available. For more info and details, visit


"Sing Out magazine quotes"

Finger play as nimble as quicksilver...fluid articulation and seamless playing"
- Sing Out! summer 2004

"Review from the Netherlands"

"Notes From Suburbia" is another diamond
from one of the most talented artists the world has yet to discover.
Steven Dillon ,Bridge Guitar Reviews, The Netherlands

- Bridge Guitar Reviews, The Netherlands

"Review of "Instrumental Solo Guitar""

"Sheehan's style and expressive performances are quick to reveal a soul of their own". - Gajoob Magazine's ,Salt Lake city Utah

"Review of 'Modern Man' CD"

Ever since John Sheehan's Instrumental Solo Guitar hit the GAJOOB desk, he has been a favorite here. Sheehan is an award winning Fingerstyle guitarist and his eclectic talent infuses Modern Man with further musical explorations in bluegrass and a heavy dose of acoustic country and blues. Besides amazing guitar work throughout this CD, Sheehan's vocals are also a welcomed, strong highlight in songs that belie a passion for tradition, the land, and lasting relationships. This is very highly recommended.
- Salt Lake City

"Crossroads music awards review"

Bud Johnson/ Producer/Host: ACOUSTIC ACCENTS, Tok, Alaska: I was a judge for the Crossroads Music Awards and your "Modern Man" CD was in the rather large box of discs that I received to judge. Yours was a pleasant surprise and I especially enjoyed the instrumental tracks. In fact, it was much better than most of the CD's I judged in the Acoustic Music Category! Feel free to add me to your mailing list. - Bud Johnson/ Producer/Host: ACOUSTIC ACCENTS, Tok, Alaska


Instrumental Solo Guitar (1995)
Modern Man (1999)
Notes from Suburbia(2003)

Listen to "Sleepy Eyes" a solo guitar composition featured at the "All Songs Considered" website

To listen to some John Sheehan recordings go to:

Stream full length versions of all of John's recordings here:

lo or hi fi Streaming radio of John 's music:


Feeling a bit camera shy


John Sheehan is a Composer/Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter from Ringwood, NJ. Two of John's compositions have been used as backdrops for videos: "Buggy Ride", in a short film on safety called "The Eddie Adams Tragedy", put out by the Weyerhauser corporation and Rocket- Pictures of Seattle Washington and "Cliffs of Moher" for a promotional film for the Emily Williston Memorial Library of Easthampton, Massachusetts. "Landrush", a banjo instrumental is used to open and close Dave Bryce's 'Rural Delivery' show on 88 Country in Christchurch New Zealand every Sunday evening.

Sincere listeners of his music have compared him to such diverse artists as; Leo Kottke, Jorma Kaukonen, Mark Knophler, Michael Hedges, John Prine, Steve Earle, and Jimmy Buffett. John gives credit to J.S.Bach and John Fahey as well as many more . He has opened for, and/or performed with guitar greats Tal Farlow, Jorma, Tom Doyle ,John Renbourne, and Adrian Legge; as well as, singer/songwriters Chris Smithers, Jonathan Edwards and Dave Malett.

His Modern Man CD has been nominated three times for in-die CD of the year, most recently from Just Plain He has won awards from Noma Music and Kweevac .com

His third CD ,"Notes from Suburbia" was released in September 2004.

Robert Hicks, All Music guide/Bergen Record said "On the Northeastern folk circuit, guitarist John Sheehan establishes himself as an independent thinker and a rugged individualist who champions finger-style techniques. "His vocal songs show simple humor, yet say something profound about humanity". His tongue-in-cheek songs such as "Modern Man", "Thursday Night Open Mic", "Beyond Your Means", and "My Habits Are Killing Me" tell something of his sense of values as well as humor. He mixes compassion , gratitude and wonder into his performances, also, with "Come Here Friend", "As I Stand" "Life Song", "Self Made Man" and "Last night in a dream".