16 Songs, 49 Minutes


About John Sheehan

On the Northeastern folk circuit, guitarist John Sheehan established himself as an independent thinker and a rugged individualist who championed the finger-style techniques of musicians as diverse as Julian Bream, Doc Watson, John Fahey, and Joe Pass.

Sheehan began work in 2001 on new songs and instrumentals for his third CD, Notes From Suburbia, which included "Self-made Man," a tale about a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, an outsider living on the edges of civilization. The disc also showed his versatility on the song "Cabin Fever," a jazzy instrumental inspired by guitarists Tal Farlow, Pass, and Charlie Byrd. On his first two CDs, Instrumental Solo Guitar and Modern Man, Sheehan moved through a wide variety of musical styles, including classical and jazz, folk, bluegrass, and rock. Throughout his career, he tempered his playing with a keen understanding of the techniques and history of all those traditions.

Sheehan was born in Patterson, NJ, on November 1, 1953, but grew up in Wayne, NJ. He began playing guitar at age 16, studying classical music and gaining an appreciation for Bach. He further studied classical guitar at William Patterson University, but dropped out before receiving his degree to pursue his independent spirit by performing in bars, restaurants, and cafés in New Jersey and New York City. During this phase in his career, he became influenced by Doc Watson, Norman Blake, and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Later in his career, Sheehan showed both an old world feeling of the Renaissance and classical traditions and the new world order of roots music expressed in Americana.

Early on, he performed on acoustic guitar, clawhammer banjo, and lute. The latter two he began to play in the '70s. In 1991, he won first place at the Candi-Creek Banjo Works Guitar Competition and got a D-16 Martin guitar, autographed and presented by C.F. Martin. He took first place in the banjo contest at the Old Mill Village Music Competition in New Milford, PA, in 1997.

After years of working in blues, folk, and rock bands, Sheehan decided to concentrate on his solo career in the mid-'90s. He released Instrumental Solo Guitar (1995), which showed his classical side, on his own label, Sheehan CDs, and he followed it up in 1999 with a look into his folk, blues, bluegrass, and rock identity on Modern Man. Instrumental music was his forte early on, but later in his career, he balanced it with songs. His vocal songs showed simple humor, yet could say something profound about humanity. ~ Robert Hicks