Lauren Sheehan
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Lauren Sheehan

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Blues


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Blues In Britain Review: Two Wings"

Rating: 9

As far as I know, this Portland - Oregon based singer and musician has not performed in Europe but going by this set of fourteen beautifully crafted acoustic titles I am sure she will come our way before too long. This is a well-balanced set of country blues and ballads, including two infectious original instrumentals and with material from, among others, Blind Willie McTell, Memphis Minnie, and Robert Johnson.

There are two titles from Blind Willie McTell, "Lonesome Day Blues", and his classic "Statesboro Blues". I have heard the latter recorded countless times but I really enjoyed the way in which Sheehan has slowed the tempo down giving the title both grace and strength. Sheehan is a very tasteful guitar picker always controlled and crystal clear and on the six titles performed alongside the harmonica master Phil Wiggins (of the internationally acclaimed duo Cephas and Wiggins) she certainly holds her own. The presence of Wiggins certainly gives this very entertaining set an extra energy and class, but above all it is Sheehan's vocals that really shine through. Sheehan is an exceptional vocalist and is quite faultless and engaging throughout this highly recommended set.

I am always a little anxious when I see new recordings of Robert Johnson material, as he is probably one of the most covered acoustic musicians. I was not disappointed in Sheehan's interpretation of Johnson's very popular "Kind Hearted Woman" where she has changed the lyrics a little to making the song very much her own. In the version of Memphis Minnie's "In My Girlish Days" Sheehan is backed by the trumpet player Dick Titterington, and the combination of guitar, trumpet, and some solid bass from Bill Uhlig, works to great effect.

The original guitar instrumental "Farewell Swallowtail" has a lilting melody while the other original instrumental, performed on a banjo, and inspired by the popular blues performer Del Rey, has a timeless quality. This is a thoughtfully chosen set of titles illustrating Sheehan's broad musical interests including other titles from the likes of Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson - all performed with sincerity and imagination. Sheehan has surrounded herself with some highly skilled and sympathetic fellow musicians making this a disc well worth tracking down. - Blues In Britain / By Robert Tilling

"Music Matters Review #21: Two Wings"

There are blues women who belt out songs loud enough to quell a noisy bar and there are blues women who can make it sound real playing with a friend or two on a porch. Lauren Sheehan is one of the latter musicians who can effortlessly muster a commanding presence. Her music often springs from direct exposure to the work of original blues musicians, but also ranges to traditional and traditionally influenced modern performers such as Gillian Welch. Her blues playing on guitar and banjo is Piedmont style and she is backed on several tracks by Piedmont harmonica virtuoso Phil Wiggins. This blend of tasteful playing, nuanced singing and classic material is captivating from beginning to end. Essential! —Michael Devlin - Music Matters Review / By Michael Devlin

"SingOut! - Vol. 50 #1: Two Wings"

Most of the material on Lauren Sheehan's second CD is drawn from various blues traditions and, with her warm voice and accomplished skills on the guitar and banjo, Sheehan is one of the best interpreters of the genre to step forward in the past several years. She opens this fine CD with the title song, a bluesy spiritual number that features some terrific harmonica playing by Phil Wiggins that weaves in between and underneath her fine vocals. Thirteen excellent tracks follow including several excursions into old-time country and Appalachian songs and a couple of her own instrumental tunes.

One of the most interesting songs in the set is her transformed version of Robert Johnson's "Kind Hearted Woman." Sheehan has taken Johnson's lyrics, which originally had the narrator singing about the kind hearted woman and about his own anguish, and rewritten them from a woman's perspective. Sung from the woman's perspective, Sheehan's version combines both the woman and the anguished soul into the same being.

Sheehan also does marvelous versions of a couple of Blind Willie McTell classics. Her arrangement of "Lonesome Day Blues" features some terrific trumpet playing by Dick Titterington while her solo rendition of "Statesboro Blues" showcases some excellent guitar playing.

Sheehan occasionally deviates from the blues with similarly excellent results. The Carter Family's "Are You Tired of Me" receives an old-time rendition that features some sweet harmonies and mandolin playing from Kate Power and Peter "Spud" Siegel. Sheehan's banjo frailing and lonesome singing make for an authentic sounding version of the traditional "Red Rocking Chair" and her own "Farewell Swallowtail" is a very pretty finger picked instrumental that shifts through several moods.

Although this is just her second album, this former teacher and school administrator has already proven herself to be a formidable musician and singer. -- MR - SingOut! / Review by Mike Regenstreif


*Some Old Lonesome Day--Wilson River Records, 2002. Available at #14 for the year, folkdj chart.

*Lay Down My Old Guitar/A Tribute to John Jackson--Centrum Recordings, 2003

*Two Wings-Wilson River Records, 2005. #7 FAR Chart for 2005, #24 Folk DJ Chart, for 2005. Available at

*Pick a Peck of Piedmont Pickers--Wepecket Island Records, 2011

*Rose City Ramble--Wilson River Records, 2011




"The first thing that strikes me is the beauty and clarity of Lauren's voice. It's like discovering some new instrument that combines qualities of fiddle and clarinet, fresh but with deep roots, accompanied by some pretty impressive guitar work. Lauren's music is rich with ingredients that nourish the human spirit."
- Phil Wiggins, of Cephas and Wiggins

Lauren is an evocative 'songster', an interpreter of a wide range of music rooted in our American heritage. Much of her material and style comes directly from some of America's greatest folk and blues artists and National Heritage Fellows. She is known for her distinctive singing, which slides through old lyrics like clear water down a smooth creek bed. Her performances are memorable for her masterfully paced emotional turns and the breadth of her authentic material; from unaccompanied ballads, to boozy Memphis blues, to old time banjo tunes, to old country songs, children's music, dance tunes and modern folk.
She is a shape shifter, in one song making the willow weep and in another making the werewolf howl. She knows how to pick a song with 'good bones' and make those bones dance, "She is a true entertainer, weaving the stories and history of the music into her performance and connecting with her audience on a personal level." (Gray Eubank, Director, Portland Christmas Revels). "I just collect, interpret and play the music that strikes my heart. It's the power of the strike that pulls me into a particular song," (Lauren).

Lauren grew up in New England where she studied classical guitar as a child and became infected by the spirit of fiddle music at contra dances in western Massachusetts. She wrote her thesis on American folk music at Reed College before spending a number of years playing in small ensembles while founding, administering, and teaching in independent schools. During this time, she toured in New England, Ireland and the Pacific Northwest.
She retired from teaching in 2003 and dedicated herself to full-time performing and recording. Since then, Lauren has been an increasingly invited festival and concert performer and workshop leader as a solo artist, as well as with regionally and Nationally respected sidemen in duo-quartet configurations.
Her first CD, Some Old Lonesome Day, was #14 on the folk dj charts for the year, and the second CD, Two Wings, went immediately to #1 and was an Independent Music award nomination for album of the year.

Lauren's passion for learning directly from other musicians has led her into the homes and front porches of the musical legends who passed on much of the material and stylistic qualities she presents today. Her endearing performances spring from time spent with such legendary musicians as John Cephas, Ginny Hawker, Etta Baker, Carl Rutherford and Howard Armstrong. She enjoys recalling the twinkle in John Jackson's eye when the two of them sat alone together in an old school house and he taught her "Come On Over to My House". Another vivid and hilarious memory involves a late night music jam in which the inimitable Smokey McKeen, Maine troubadour and Lauren's master's thesis mentor, concluded, "Girl, that was a two credit party!"