Shamus Hannah
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Shamus Hannah

Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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Record Attendance At Songwriters Showcase As Shamus Hannah, Michael Wallace, And Roots Duo Gettysburg Are Selected To Perform At Shelter Valley Folk Festival

On Thursday evening, July 31st, a record-breaking crowd and a jury of three heard the top 10 local songwriters perform as part of an open-air audition held by the Shelter Valley Folk Festival.

In the end Shamus Hannah (below right) of Cobourg, Michael Wallace of Campbellford, and the songwriting duo of Gettysburg (from Bewdley and Port Hope) were selected as the three finalists to perform at the fifth annual Shelter Valley Folk Festival this Aug 29th to 31st. The Festival's 4th annual Songwriters Showcase attracted an audience of over 250, all toting their lawn chairs to Cobourg's King Street to help kick off Downtown Cobourg's 40th Anniversary Sidewalk Sale.

In the audience, feet tapped and pencils scratched as everyone listened attentively to the music and judged it according to the quality of the lyrics and melody as well as originality. Volunteer Artistic Director Aengus Finnan asked the crowd to "focus on the quality of the songs, their lyrics and melody," and not to be "distracted or swayed by showmanship" .Judges on this year's jury who joined Finnan included Mandy Martin, Editor of Northumberland Publishers; Bridget Foley of Star 93.3. "There were some exquisite lyrics" stated Martin, while Foley commented that "it is challenging to look past the "show" and listen to the lyrics, but is was a rewarding process."

Local songwriter Shamus Hannah made the top ten two years ago and returned this year to place in the top three with his heart-warming songs. Hannah is a long time volunteer at the Festival and recently recorded his first CD "live" at the Human Bean coffeehouse in downtown Cobourg. A father of three Hannah states "Songwriting is the best way I know to deal with some of life's most difficult and trying times"

Crowd favourite Michael Wallace brought rhythm and politics to the stage with his dynamic songs. Michael is originally from Campbellford but calls Peterborough homes these days where he has been working with a band for the past few years.

Gettysburg, comprised of Denholm Whale and Dylan Todhunter of Bewdley and Port Hope had atmospheric sounds, gentle harmonies, and disarmingly subtle lyrics and were the youngest performers in the line-up. "Everybody in this crowd is obviously a music lover." Exclaimed Denholm while band-mate Todhunter added, "The crowd was really supportive and responsive."

"I was really proud to be part of the Shelter Valley Folk Festival tonight," said Katharine Partridge, volunteer Business and Production Manager and Past Chair on the Board of Directors, "because I would be proud to see any of the ten songwriters on our Festival stage. The talent was consistently amazing and the audience appreciated that." She continued, "When attendance here at the Showcase is so high and talent is so apparent, it bodes well for our Labour Day weekend event because it shows the value that the community places on the Festival."

Finnan concluded "It was a great night. We were thrilled to have over 35 applications this year, 250 visitors to the showcase, and 113 ballots cast by members of the public who scored all 10 acts. It's a real sign of interest and engagment."

The Folk Festival thanked Kelly Jessup, who organized Downtown Cobourg's 40th Anniversary Sidewalk Sale, for including the Songwriters Showcase in the weekend's festivities as well as the judges and public for attending the event and showing their support for the craft of songwriting. Songwriters who were not selected this year are encouraged to try again next year.

The Shelter Valley Folk Festival is a Registered Federal Charity that presents a Labour Day Weekend family festival (August 29 - 31, 2008), and a new community outreach initiative called "Artists in the Schools." Currently in its fifth year, the Festival celebrates music, juried art, wellness, sustainable living and harvest food in what the Toronto Star describes as a "gentle, humanistic, environmentally attuned and abundantly caring" manner. Tickets for the Festival are available at 48 King Street West in Cobourg, online at or through the Ticket Hotline: 1-866-612-SVFF or 905-355-1244. New volunteers and financial donors are always welcome.

Updated 08.08.08 Written by Shelter Valley Folk Festival

Related links:



Shamus Hannah LP released in May 2007, available on,

The Harvest Time Ball, The Walking Song- Airplay on CJAI FM 92.5



Shamus Hannah’s engaging songs of “family and home, and things that matter” are born of the stories he’s lived. Through songwriting, he says he finds a voice for things he’s always wanted to say.

Since childhood, the singer/songwriter has loved playing music, first picking out notes on his mother’s piano, and later singing country songs around the campfire. Through his teenage years, Shamus was encouraged to pursue his passion for music through singing in church, where he first experimented with songwriting. Born in Kingston, Ontario, he grew up in various corners of that Canadian province and now makes his home in Cobourg, Ontario with his wife, Mary Beth, and their three boys.

Being invited to perform at a Shelter Valley Folk Festival volunteer picnic in 2005 was a turning point in Shamus’ musical career. Rubbing shoulders with songwriters, Aengus Finnan, Jonathan Byrd, David Newland and Corin Raymond has shaped his approach to the craft. “As I listened to these musicians,” he says, “I felt more comfortable letting out some of those things that wouldn’t have been said.”

Shamus says that, for him, the songwriting process is either painstakingly slow or it comes in a torrent. “My song Daddy Knows took five years to write,” he says, ” but the lyrics for Castle came in 8 minutes on a break at work.”

His first CD, a self-titled, live recording at the Human Bean Café in Cobourg, Ontario was released in the summer of 2007. He says he enjoys the shared emotional experience found in performing for an audience. In 2008, Shamus earned his way onto the main stage at Shelter Valley, a winner of the festival’s Songwriter Showcase.

Current projects find Shamus experimenting with a trio format, joined by Vince Ruttan and Anne Cyr. As well, he’s working on his first studio recording, expected to be released in 2009.