Sympathy and the Lion
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Sympathy and the Lion

Santa Fe, NM | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Santa Fe, NM | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Duo Folk Singer/Songwriter




"Helen Leicht of WXPN Philadelphia"

"Leaps of Love" - a beautiful song that has the vibe of Damien Rice, Hozier, and Sting. I'd say that's a very good place to be!" - WXPN

"Fig Magazine Voices"

Their music is pensive and understated. With a rural sensibility that's accessible, it also incorporates a dramatic interest in transcendental storytelling.... Music lovers will find similarities with Damien Rice, Iron & Win, and Nick Drake. The richness of John's cello and the passion in Michael's voice evoke a sense of freedom." - Fig Magazine

"Root Down in The Shadow"

"A perfect way to forget winter, and really everything else for that matter.
Mike Burke's vocals and John Shavel on cello were such a lovely mix. More so, the special combined harmony of the duo was another wonderful sound all together, reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel where they were completely unique but together created a hallmark sound." - Root Down in The Shadow

"Listen to a Beautiful Cover of Springsteen's Glory Days by Sympathy and the Lion"

Is it possible that Born in the U.S.A. is actually Bruce Springsteen’s best album? In terms of sound, I’d say definitely not. The overglossed 80s production and stadium synthesizer sound might have catapulted The Boss into megastardom some 31 years ago, but it seemed to run counter to his past work, his lyrical outlook, what we knew of him as a person…it was his pop record, and it sounded like it. Which is fine. But in terms of songwriting – and this is something I’m starting to come around on decades after first hearing the album – but oh my god, Bruce was so on point on that record, moreso than the sound let on.

Take away all those 80s production trappings and just listen to the music and the lyrics – like in the haunting, Nebraska-esque version of the title song found on Tracks, or Ted Leo’s heartfelt back-to-basics take on “Dancing In The Dark” (which I always found corny as heck, but not the way he does it), or the plethora of versions of “I’m On Fire”…or Lancaster duo Sympathy and the Lion’s brand new version of “Glory Days” – and the songs at their core are remarkable.

Sympathy’s John Shavel and Michael Burke take the song down to a moving piano and harmonica, and without the bouncy big band pop, you get to focus on the lyrics – where Springsteen candidly details the psychic trials of aging, of splintering off from old friends, of watching your dreams fade and watching yourself fall from your youthful heights, even if you used to be at the top of the pack. It’s a beautiful, appreciate-what-you-got song, and Sympathy really makes it their own: and makes me appreciate it anew.

Listen below, and catch Sympathy and the Lion tonight at World Cafe Live when they open for Red Wanting Blue at World Cafe Live. Tickets and more info at the XPN Concert Calendar. Also below, watch two of those other Born in the USA re-versions I mentioned – Ted Leo’s “Dancing in the Dark” (it’s a live video and the song starts at 4:12, but the story he tells leading into it is funny) and Bruce’s Tracks version of the title song. - WXPN

"Watch Sympathy and the Lion’s heartwarming KettlePot Sessions"

Lancaster folk duo Sympathy and the Lion will be playing at this year’s Musikfest. The group, which consists of John Shavel and Michael Burke, formed in 2011 via an advertisement on Craigslist. Last year, the band put out its first, self-titled album. The incredible mix of cello and tenor guitar evokes almost immediate nostalgia for lost country roads and wooded forests, especially on the first track “Diego”. The accompanying vocals create for a warm listening experience.

In March, Sympathy and the Lion did a session with Kettle Pot Tracks, where they played “Wide-Eyed Dove” and “Invisible Lines”. Between the two songs lies the spectrum of their music. “Wide-Eyed Dove” is a beautiful, haunting piece of Americana while “Invisible Lines” is a soulful love song. They also played their most recent song, a powerful gorgeous tune “Hail Hail”. Recently, the band released a really cool cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence”, courtesy of Music For Everyone which you can check out here. The duo’s intricate blend of instruments and vocals give a new look at the time worn subject of love.

Catch the band at this year’s Musikfest August 6th at Martin Guitar Stage at 9 pm. They will also playing at this year’s World Cafe Beta HiFi Festival. Get more details about the shows here. Watch “Wide Eyed Dove” below. - WXPN The Key

"Download "Leaps of Love" by Lancaster duo Sympathy and the Lion"

Lancaster, PA’s Sympathy and the Lion have a new record called Remnants coming out in January. The cello / guitar duo of John Shavel and Michael Burke have been playing together since 2011 after meeting online.

“Leaps of Love” is a stand-out song from the upcoming four-track EP, down-tempo and full of atmosphere. The sparse arrangements evoke a feeling of a rural countryside covered in snow, while the vocals take the dreaminess of Lord Huron into stripped-down folk territory.

The accompanying video, which you can watch below, pairs the song with century-old footage of two ballet dancers born in the 1800s. It’s beautifully expressive and connects two eras and forms of art in a surprisingly moving way.

Sympathy and the Lion will be performing at the Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival in February – get more information here and download “Leaps of Love” below. - WXPN

"Joy Ike Music Friday"

It's Music Friday! The only thing I appreciate more than a solitary singer/songwriter and their instrument is a duo with flawless harmonies. Today I'm sharing a band that I stumbled upon last week - a group whose music I have fallen in love with.

Sympathy & The Lion's music is sentimental, contemplative, and soothing. It reminds me of Saturday mornings in a brightly lit kitchen with a cup of tea in hand. Here is a video shot by the folks at Kettle Pot Tracks. Hopefully this will be the most beautiful thing you hear (and see) this week. Enjoy :) - Joy Ike

"Musikfest picks for Day 6"

Sympathy and the Lion – performing from 9pm to 9:40pm at Lyrikplatz
This Lancaster cello and guitar duo delivers powerful lyrics with warm, gorgeous emotion. Their folky, Americana-driven songs are stellar and worth a listen. - The El Vee

"CedarWorks Show"

Lancaster-based Guitar/cello duo Sympathy and Lion has a sound that XPN's The Key says ”evokes almost immediate nostalgia for lost country roads and wooded forests”. Their music is a canvas of beautiful scripted, folk-infused love songs. - PhillyFunGuide


Still working on that hot first release.



 Sympathy and the Lion is John Shavel (cello) and Michael Burke (Singer/Songwriter).  They released their first EP "Remnants" in February of 2015.    Their song "Leaps of Love" receives light airplay on Philadelphia's WXPN.  Helen Leicht says  "Leaps of Love" is a beautiful song that has the vibe of Damien Rice, Hozier, and Sting.  I'd say that's a very good place to be".

Michael currently lives on a horse ranch in Coyote, NM.  He is working on a new album and plays around New Mexico as a solo performer, Brother Coyote.  

Band Members