Texas-based singer, songwriter, and guitarist Shawn Pittman attended the Albert King/Jimmie Vaughan school of blues guitar playing. He's not flashy, and he realizes the spaces between the notes are as important as the notes themselves. Tone and melody are just as important to Pittman's way of thinking, as fast and flashy runs up and down the guitar neck.
By the time he was 28, Pittman had recorded and released three albums that showcase mostly his own original material, occasionally reinvigorating the work of others, such as his cover of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" on his 2001 release, Full Circle.
Pittman was born and raised in Oklahoma, where his earliest musical memories were listening to his father and grandfather's record collections, which included good people like Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. His grandmother was a boogie-woogie piano player and his grandfather played country guitar. His earliest blues heroes were Jimmy Reed and Lightnin' Hopkins. Hearing both of them for the first time was a revelation for the young, impressionable Pittman. He began taking piano lessons at age eight and stuck with that until he was 15, playing around a bit with saxophone and drums before settling on guitar. Pittman arrived in Dallas in 1992 for his last year of high school and attended the Booker T. Washington High School for Performing and Visual Arts. Shortly after this, he jumped right into Dallas' still-bustling blues club scene, sitting in with and befriending musicians like Anson Funderburgh, Hash Brown, Mike Morgan, Tutu Jones, Mark Pollock, and Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones. Being schooled by some of the best players around Dallas and Fort Worth, Pittman became a multi-dimensional guitarist who even today enjoys playing rhythm as well as lead guitar.
Pittman counts among his influences people like Lightnin' Hopkins, Hound Dog Taylor, Mike Morgan, and of course, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, who came out of the Dallas club scene before they moved to Austin, one at a time, in the late '70s. Pittman recorded two discs for the now-defunct Cannonball Records label, Burnin' Up in 1997, and the Jim Gaines-produced Something's Gotta Give in 1998.
After spending the next two years battling some personal and professional demons, including the premature closing of Minneapolis-based Cannonball Records, Pittman moved to Austin, got his act together with the aid of two bassists, Tommy Shannon and Preston Hubbard, and released the somewhat autobiographical Full Circle, a 2001 release on his own Shawn Pittman Music label out of Austin. Full Circle was also produced by Jim Gaines.
Of his three releases, Something's Gotta Give and Full Circle showcase a mature songwriter with something to say, deep, tone-conscious guitar playing, and a fine voice. On Full Circle, Pittman is backed by a short who's-who of Austin-area musicians, including Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton from Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble on bass and drums, as well as Riley Osborne on Hammond B-3 and keyboards. ~ Richard Skelly