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About Shannon Shaw

A garage rock diva whose music merges the sounds of doo wop and '60s rock with the bold attitude of indie and underground sounds, Shannon Shaw first gained an audience as the leader of the group Shannon & the Clams. Born and raised in Northern California, Shaw grew up on a musical diet of '50s and '60s oldies, and while studying art in the 2000s, she fell in with like-minded musicians to form Shannon & the Clams, rising through the indie rock underground on the strength of albums like 2013's Dreams in the Rat House and 2015's Gone by the Dawn. An alliance with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys led to him producing 2018's Onion, as well as Shaw's solo debut, a country-accented set titled Shannon in Nashville.

Shannon Shaw was born on May 21, 1983. She grew up in Napa, a community in Northern California, where her father was a firefighter and her mother worked at a psychiatric hospital. Shaw grew up in a Mormon household, where one of the few radio stations her parents approved of played nothing but oldies from the '50s and '60s. As a teenager, Shaw was a misfit who spent much of her time avoiding the jocks who enjoyed making her life difficult. When she was 15, Shaw's boyfriend gave her a bass guitar, a Danelectro with silver glitter finish, but she didn't take to it at first, and it wasn't until she was 25 that she gave the instrument a second chance, learning to play and write songs after a tumultuous breakup.

Around this time, Shaw was attending the California College of the Arts in the East Bay Area, where she met Cody Blanchard; they didn't get along well at first, but after watching a video project he'd made, Shaw decided she'd found a kindred spirit, and they struck up a friendship. Blanchard played guitar and shared Shaw's taste for vintage sounds, and before long they decided to form a band. Recruiting fellow CCA student Ian Amberson to play drums, the first lineup of Shannon & the Clams debuted in 2008. The following year, they released their debut EP, Hunk Hunt, and a full-length album, I Wanna Go Home, was dropped by Oakland-based indie 1-2-3-4 Go! Records before 2009 was out.

Soon, Shaw was doing double duty, fronting Shannon & the Clams and playing bass in another Bay Area retro garage band, Hunx & His Punx. 1-2-3-4 Go! brought out the second Shannon & the Clams album, Sleep Talk, in 2011, and the group dropped a number of singles through 2012. Shannon & the Clams next struck a deal with the Sub Pop-distributed Hardly Art label, which released their third album, Dreams in the Rat House, in 2013, and in 2014 the band played a tour of Australia. By the time Hardly Art brought out 2015's Gone by the Dawn, the group had gone through some changes; Nate Mahan replaced Ian Amberson on drums, and they expanded to a quartet with the addition of Will Sprott on keyboards.

After learning that Shannon & the Clams' Australian tour happened in part because the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, a fan of the band, had recommended them to a festival promoter in the Antipodes, Shaw and Auerbach struck up a friendship, and Auerbach proved to be a valuable ally to the group. First, Auerbach signed Shannon & the Clams to his Easy Eye Sound label, and produced their fifth album, Onion, released in February 2018. Four months later, Easy Eye premiered Shaw's first solo album. Shannon in Nashville teamed Shaw with a studio band that included veteran session men Gene Chrisman and Bobby Wood, and saw her adding country and pop accents to her retro garage sound. ~ Mark Deming