Shannon Wurst
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Shannon Wurst

Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States | INDIE

Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Bluegrass


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"Sunday Pie"

During college, Shannon Wurst spent summers as a whitewater rafting guide in Colorado. She also spent six months working as a dog musher in Vermont.

But her most exciting adventure has been putting together her debut CD, she said by phone from her hometown of Alma.

But like all the other tasks she has taken on, she met her goal with Thursday's release of "Sunday Pie." To show off her new songs, Wurst will perform three times this week in Fayetteville: today at GoodFolk Productions, Monday at Jose's Restaurant & Club and Wednesday at George's Majestic Lounge.

Wurst had the music bug from an early age. Her dad played Southern rock, and her stepfather often hosted all-night bluegrass picking parties for his friends. She didn't learn to play until high school, but the thrill of music had long been established.

After graduation, Wurst left Alma for the University of Arkansas. After earning a degree in interior design, she had a major change of heart. She moved to Green Mountain, Vt., and led tourists on dog-sledding excursions. When the snow melted and the season was over, she decided to press on with the dream of creating music.

Wurst wanted her music to sound like that of her favorite performers: Dolly Parton, Gillian Welch, Doc Watson and Loretta Lynn, to name a few. Her intrepid spirit took her to Boone, N.C., a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she immersed herself in the culture of the region that made bluegrass music famous.

"I knew that everything I wanted to do musically was there," she said. "I got to play with some amazing people there."

After a year and a half of playing the club scene, Wurst was awarded a grant by the North Carolina Arts Council to record an album. She knew exactly who she wanted to collaborate with so she packed her bags and headed home.

In the Ozarks again, she surrounded herself with musician friends, including her father and stepfather, and began to record. On the album, Wurst is accompanied by a host of musicians on bass, mandolin, fiddle and other instruments typical of mountain music.

Among Wurst's favorites is "Patsy Montana," a song she wrote about the Arkansas-born country singer who became the first woman to sell a million albums.

Wurst could be on her way to the same success, and judging by the number of gigs she'll be playing in the coming days, it appears she is putting down roots. She couldn't be more content, she said, and the album's title reflects that. "Sunday Pie," she said in a voice as sweet as the pastry itself, is about enjoying life's simple pleasures.

"It's about a really great day. It's pretty good when you're sitting around eating pie on a Sunday," she said. - What's UP

"CD Review"

"Sunday Pie" by Shannon Wurst
reviewed by Emily Kaitz

The cover of Shannon Wurst's debut CD "Sunday Pie" displays a sepia-tone photo of the young singer/guitarist wearing a gingham dress and cowboy boots, sitting on a porch swing and holding what appears to be a freshly-baked pie. Along with the accompanying lettering in a font reminiscent of "Wanted" posters from the days of Jesse James and Pretty Boy Floyd, the album has an old-fashioned look that suggests wholesome, down-home music, evocative of bygone days and a simpler, rural lifestyle. And the songs on "Sunday Pie" live up to that description.

The 12 cuts include 3 traditional tunes, 3 of Shannon's originals, and other songs penned by friends and family members, many of whom appear on the CD as harmony singers or backup musicians. There is some variation of style and instrumentation from song to song, encompassing the musical genres of bluegrass, old-timey, swing, country blues and gospel, but the overall sound is traditional, as if the CD had been recorded 40 or more years ago rather than just recently. The songs' lyrics focus on traditional themes as well - families, hard work in the fields, mills and coal mines, broken hearts. Additionally, two of Shannon's musical heroes are alluded to in her swingy ode to Patsy Montana and songwriter Ryan Crider's biographical tribute to Hank Williams.

Shannon credits her flat-picking guitarist stepfather Ed Carr with being a big influence over the years, bringing other musicians over to the house for regular picking sessions when she was growing up, and taking the family to the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, as well as other musical gatherings. Carr plays and sings on 8 of the tracks on "Sunday Pie" and provided guidance and support for the entire project.

Like Shannon Wurst and Ed Carr, many of the accompanying musicians on the CD hail from the Ft. Smith/Alma area, including Dennis West on bass, Ernie Hill (who also wrote 2 of the songs) on harmony vocals, and even blues wizard Chris Cameron playing slide guitar and electric bass on Shannon's song "Big Papa." Shannon's father Ronnie Wurst sings on one song (and wrote 2 of them), and local mandolinist extraordinaire, Outside The Lines' Stan D'Aubin, appears on 5 cuts. And Shannon was thrilled to have Nashville fiddler Eamon McLoughlin of the Greencards play on 5 songs.

Shannon's lilting girlish voice has a quality all its own, somewhere between the vulnerability of 1960s and 70s recording artist Brenda Lee, and the unadorned freshness of Fayetteville's own Donna Stjerna of the folk duo Still On The Hill. At times fragile, at times masterful, 26-year-old Shannon effortlessly soars and blends with veteran backup musician of twice her age and experience.

My favorite of Shannon's original tunes is the plaintive mountain ballad "Cash On The Barrelhead" (which sounds nothing like the well-known bluegrass song of the same title). This song, told from the perspective of a bootlegger's daughter, tells the story of how her father turned to making moonshine to keep the family out of the poorhouse.

Cash on the barrelhead
We were selling 'shine to keep our family fed
Moonlight and white lightning kept our lives real exciting
Cash on that barrelhead.

The song begins with D'Aubin and Carr echoing licks on mandolin and guitar in a minor scale, a haunting leitmotif which recurs throughout the ballad. A mournful solo by Fiddlin' Jim Vincent completes the picture.

With such a strong first album, Shannon likely is headed for a long and glorious performing and recording career. Pick up a copy of "Sunday Pie" at Sound Warehouse in Fayetteville or from Shannon's website, Shannon will be appearing at Jose's on Dickson Street Tuesday July 24 as the special guest of featured artists The Ozone Players, and will be performing on their breaks between 7-11 pm. She also often appears at Jose's on Monday nights sitting in with Charliehorse.itz - Emily Kaitz

"From The Ozarks To The Appalachians"

The hardscrabble lives of people in the mountain regions of our country have yielded some of the best stories and greatest music the United States has ever produced.

Singer-songwriter Shannon Wurst will perform at this Friday’s Concert on the Lawn at the Jones House in Boone. Photo submitted

Shannon Wurst, a singer-songwriter who grew up in the Ozark Mountain region of Arkansas, moved to the Appalachians last year to gain a firsthand knowledge of our mountain music from the people who play it best.

“My dad, Ronnie Wurst, was a bluegrass picker and he and all of his musician friends would gather at our house for picking sessions,” said Wurst. “They would play the old time music that they loved and eventually I learned to love and play that music too.”

Wurst will perform her own brand of mountain music, along with some old time standards, at a special concert at the Jones House in downtown Boone on Friday, July 28th at 5:50 p.m. The Sigmon Stringers will open up this outdoor show at 5 p.m.

Joining Wurst for the concert on the lawn are bassist Chris Lovejoy and mandolin player Robert Evans of the Crookneck Squashers.

The concert is free and open to the public.

“I have a regular Monday night show at Woodlands Barbecue in Blowing Rock,” said Wurst. “I alternate the show so every other week I play solo and concentrate on my original material. Then on the other weeks I invite my musician friends to join me. It keeps things fun.”
- Mountain Times


What's More Honest Than A Song?

3 Penny Acre

Sunday Pie



Shannon Wurst delivers engaging entertainment, dynamic vocals, and a down home presence that will make you sit up and listen. Her songwriting provides you with a portal into the life of not only this up and coming artist, but also a peek into others' stories. Shannon Wurst is a modern day pioneer, creating her own path and sound.

"Shannon Wurst has all the makings of becoming a bigger name than most.
Like good malt whiskey, she goes down a treat."
-Maverick County Magazine, London, England

"Shannon Wurst is among the rare breed who can make you sit upright and wonder aloud, "who is that?" She is unquestionably arresting."-Sing Out Folk Music Magazine, John Lupton

"If there's any justice in this musical world, you'll be hearing a loty more of Shannon Wurst."-Bluegrass Unlimited

"Quite honestly, I think Shannon may be the best local performer I have heard and I can only hipe that someone discovers her quick."

"Stellar debut album."-Arkansas Times, Lindsey Millar

"Sharing other peoples' stories is at the heart of Wurst's songwriting."- Triad, Winston-Salem, NC

"There is no stage she won't shine on! She will, not doubt, have the crowd asking for more."- Matt Johnson, Boone Saloon, Boone, NC

"Add to the growing list of impressive Ozark-grown talent the name SHANNON WURST...there is a new voice on the scene worth paying attention to. One that could easily emerge from our radios in the coming years." Ozark Mountainer, Branson, MO

"Shannon can sing witht he best of them. I'd walk a mile just to hear her hum."-Mark Bilyeu of Big Smith

"Shannon's voice has the simple mountain purity of Maybelle Carter and Dolly Parton, yet her songs have a timeless and hopeful edge that shines..."-Jeff Mosier of Blueground Undergrass

"Sweetest voice this side of heaven."-Tim Williems, Mayor of Scranton, AR

Awards and Achievements
Receipt of North Northwestern Carolina Regional Artist Grant
Winner of New Song Contest at Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS
Semi-finalist in Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion Talented Twenties Contest
Nominated for NAMA Songwriter of the Year
Nominated for NAMA Female Vocalist of the Year
Selected for the 20th Annual Internation Folk Alliance Offical Showcase Artist, 2008
Selected (with 3 Penny Acre) for the 21st Annual International Folk Alliance Offical Showcase Artist, 2009

Venues and Festivals
George's Majestic Lounge-Fayetteville, AR
Good Folk Productions (Mike Shirkey) -Fayetteville, AR
Sticky Fingerz-Little Rock, AR
Whitewater Tavern-Little Rock,AR
The Lyric Theater-Harrison, AR
The Palace Theater-Crossville, TN
The United Center-Idaho Springs, CO
Shining Star-Nederland, CO
Boone Saloon-Boone, NC
Boticelli's-Austin, TX
Mulberry Mountain Harvest Festival, 2008 Ozark, AR
Walnut Valley Festival, 2008, Winfield, KS
Kerrville Folk Festival, 2008, Kerrville, TX
Eureka Springs Folk Festival 2008, Eureka Springs, AR
Merlefest Songwriter's Showcase, 2007
4 State Homegrown Music Festival, 2007 & 2008, Neosho, MO
SXSW,2007, Austin, TX
Eureka Springs Bluegrass Festival, 2007, Eureka Springs, AR

TV/Radio Appearances
Featured Artist on Front Row Music Program on Jones Television Network
Interviewed on Mountain Television Network by the North Carolina Arts Council
Featured on Nationally Syndicated Program, Folk Sampler, with Mike Flynn
Live Studio appearance on Mike Shirkey's Pickin Post
Live Studio appearance on Daniel Gold's Honest Tunes Radio Show
Live Studio appearance Blue Plate Special with Matt Morelock's

Dick Renko
Trout Fishing in America Manager
Muzik Mangement/Productions

Jim Roe
Booking Agent
Roe Entertainment

Harold Wieties
Booking for George's Majestic Lounge