Shawn Taylor
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Shawn Taylor

Shelton, Connecticut, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Shelton, Connecticut, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Folk Acoustic




"The Alternate Root - "Home" - CD Review"

Shawn Taylor - "Home"

Shawn Taylor has mellowness to his voice that works well against the frenetic flash of finger-picking that is the foundation of his songs. Home is the third disc from Shawn Taylor. It is Americana stripped of its outer skin. The songs crackle with the guitar work, the intensity supporting the anger of lost dreams (“Blackwater”), the life questions about just how far we fall (“Where’s the Bottom?”) and hard times that course through the lives of family and friends (“The Bottom Line”). Shawn Taylor uses words as weapons on Home, showing that his pen beats the sword for cutting through the crap as it seeks the truth of contemporary life. Shawn brings in the band for a cover of Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You”, giving the song lonesome pedal steel wails and a folk rock backing. Spiritual chariots get sidelined in Shawn Taylor’s renamed cover, “Swing Low Sweet Liberty”, envisioning the song as flying over Washington, D.C. to get an overview of lives in free-fall. - The Alternate Root

""I've really enjoyed listening to this band." - José Feliciano on 3/17/13"

"I've really enjoyed listening to this band."
(José Feliciano - 3/17/13 at Smokin' With Chris - Southington, CT)

The quote was made directly to the crowd. It was paraphrased into general praise in the following article in the Southington Record Journal. - Jose Feliciano

""Shawn Taylor impressed me with his voice , his fingerpicking , the diversity of his sounds and of his songs""

"Shawn Taylor impressed me with his voice , his fingerpicking , the diversity of his sounds and of his songs"
(Michel Penard - Radio Milieu, France) - Michel Penard - Radio Milieu, France

""well-crafted music, performed with grace""

"well-crafted music, performed with grace"
Jim Dublinski - WUVT, VA - Jim Dublinski - WUVT, VA

""Shawn, in my mind, is the real deal.""

"Shawn, in my mind, is the real deal."
(Jim Dublinski - WUVT, VA) - Jim Dublinski - WUVT, VA

""Shawn is a master balladeer & troubador""

"Shawn is a master balladeer & troubador"
(Remo Ricaldone - American Roots Radio, Italy) - Remo Ricaldone - American Roots Radio, Italy

"Lizard Lounge Open Mike Challenge, Aug 8, 2011, show #247"

Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge, August 8th, 2011, Show #247

by Tom Bianchi on Aug 10, 2011

It’s been one of those dog-days of August filled with random spurts of torrential rain and sunshine, but always accompanied by heat and humidity. I left for the gig without an umbrella was happy to get mostly sunshine for my 20 minute walk. The cool air-conditioning of the Lizard Lounge was as welcome on this night as the familiar deep dark red lighting in this basement club that I’ve grown accustomed to after more than four years of working here on Mondays. Time to set up the stage for the 247th LLOMC.

The Lizard Lounge sound system is one of the best in town, created step by step by engineers like Tom Dube, Dan Cardinal, Matt Malikowski and currently maintained by Joe Stewart. These guys are the best engineers out there, all with their own professional recording studio these days, and/or doing live sound for the biggest names in music. They’ve all had their hand in figuring out how to make the Lizard Lounge low ceilings and awkwardly shaped turns and cubbies sound amazing. Big and small speakers surround the parameters and even the musician’s monitors provide sound for the audience as they are pointed partially at the stage and partially into the crowd. With its speaker-specific equalizers and a “drive rack” which enables me to pre-set my settings for our Open Mic show, setting up this room for sound has become less of a science for me and more of habit. Thanks to these engineers, this room sounds great… and it’s easy.

Okay. Microphones on, mic stands and instrument cables in place…. piano ready to go… The stage is set and it’s 7:30 pm, time to open the doors. A steady line of patrons starts to filter into the lounge being greeted by a solid hello and wrist-banded one by one. Green for patrons and orange bands for musicians that are also labeled appropriately so. Many a performer when getting on our stage for the first time will say, “How great is it to have a wristband that says, “Musician” on it in bold print!” This orange wristband is the first right-of-passage at the LLOMC.

The bar starts to pour beer and serve food, the regulars catch up with each other and the newcomers, a bit wide-eyed begin to find comfortable real estate to call home for a while and it’s time to actually start the show. For more than 20 years I’ve managed to scrape out a living in the music community, mostly with instrument in hand, but not on these nights. On Monday nights the ol’ faithful 1966 Fender Jazz bass takes a night off. My gear for this show includes an Open Mic sign up book and the microphone. I’m the host. My job is very simple; do my best to make everyone feel at home and keep the show running.

8 pm hits and I share the run down of the evening, introducing our staff including Keith Foley our bartender (who also goes by Axel Foley in the DJ scene around town) and a quick breeze through some of the “rules” of the night.

Rules! Ugh! Yup.. rules. Sure it’s an open mic… but it’s more than an open mic. It’s an “Open Mic Challenge”, which is a fancy way of saying “contest”. A contest has to have some rules.

If you want to be in the contest we need two original songs and and/or a 10 minute and under performance. No pedals, no backing tracks… nothin’ but live. Those are the basics. That being said, we do often have artists such as story tellers and cover artist from time to time who are not invested in the contest aspect of our show, but the majority of folks in the room are here to share songs that they have penned.

An artist and regular face in our crowd named Dave Konyha kicks us off properly with two songs highlighting expert musicianship and a newcomer to our night named Ruby Ross follows up with a heart-ache love song about love lost and travels, and then shows off her versatility a bit by putting down the guitar and playing a gentle piano ballad for song #2. Brand new to town, Ruby is great and she is one of those musicians I encourage to please keep coming back to our show.

Sam Bayer gets up next and of course is as clever as ever. Sam is an icon in our local music community and has been supporting Open Mic shows for longer than I’ve been in town. On this night we would chat it up a bit about the revival of “The Old Vienna Kauffehous” that is happening this Thursday at The Armory For The Arts. If you don’t think Open Mic’s are important, ask some of the artists that came up through the Old Vienna scene, like Dar Williams, Martin Sexton and Don White. They’ll set you straight.

Our show rolls on and our judge has his hands full. Tonight’s judge is Mr. Alex Wise, one of the few Cambridgian’s who was actually born and raise right here in Cambridge. Throughout the night he tells stories of seeing music icons like Tracy Chapman in their youngest days busking Harvard Square and sharing lessons learned about performing to the best of your ability no matter what the situation (most specifically siting a historic evening in which Ellis Paul played a NYC club to only 4 patrons. Two of them were the Cohen Brothers.) Alex has been around, put on hundreds and hundreds of Boston based shows through Songstreet Productions, Folk Tree and other organizations as well. He’s quite frankly way over-qualified for this gig and it’s an honor for us to have him on this night.

Zach Robinson from Manchester, NH steps up and just slays his two songs including a rock-rap jam that has all the energy a young performer can harness, Katey O’Callaghan is better than ever with her voice that is one part angelic and one part cutting edge grunge rock, similar to the way Blondie could aggressively woo a crowd. Sarah Donnor, traveling from Princetown, NJ played Baritone Uke and Guitar. She’s been a winner here before and is always a fan favorite.

Tony Lovell, Gus Agudelo, Rune Jensen, one by one the performers entertained our crowd as our guest judge visibly became more and more distraught about picking just three. Finally, 12 string guitarist/instrumentalist Matt Pezone hit the stage and left no stone unturned with his bright, brilliant efficiency and complete control of his instrument. The list was through. Midnight. It’s now the Tuesday morning Open Mic Challenge.

Yes… part of the Open Mic “Challenge” is making it to the wee hours to see who will with the door prize. Alex Wise came back to the green room during the judge’s break with a final “8”. Sorry Alex, you can only pick three.

The drum roll…. Alex says his thank you’s, shares one last story with the crowd and announces his picks. Kristen Ford, Shawn Taylor and Laura Grill.

Kristen Ford comes out blazing. This local singer/songwriter rolled in to the LLOMC for the first time about 2 years ago with foot and a half long dreadlocks, standing on the chairs and singing from the heart. She still has the same energy, but it’s more dialed in than ever. Kristen just came in from a photo shoot, so she’s got a rock star quality show going on tonight sporting a businessman’s white button down and tie, but with sleeves rolled up, two buttons undone as if to say, “yeah, this is my work uniform. And my job is melting faces!” Her voice is filled with confidence, yet a kind of emotional desperation that takes the listener anywhere she’s like them do go.

Laura Grill is up next and she hits us with a perfect contrast to the first performance. Laura’s jazzy sweet sound and obvious knowledge of chords and arrangement are perfectly clear as she sings though compositions that only a schooled musician could write, or at least understand what they have written. Ever so gently with one word at a time Laura brings the room to a silent stand still and the crowd and the judge are captured by the beauty of the soundscape Laura creates. Wow.

It’s Shawn’s turn and he steps up and does what he does. Shawn is a singer/songwriter/folk/blues guitarist. Plain and simple, that is to say it’s easy to categorize what he does. Years ago artists may have struggled to be unique and different, inspiring the category of “alternative”, but these days that category is more of a curse, lumping an artist in with a billion others that sound like more and more generic in their quest for originality. Instead, Shawn dives directly into folk/blues with heart and soul, telling stories of real people with real hardships, all backed by a finger-picking style that can be crass, gentle, fast or simple, what ever the moment calls for, and led all the time confidently with his gruff and raspy blues voice. He’s found originality within his genre. A tough thing to do.

Shawn did not go home with our door prize, but his presence at this show further backs up Alex Wise’s lessons shared. Shawn went home with a killer booking, an opening for Boston legend and hero, Kevin So.

Alex took a break from the final three and we had one last beer. The choice of the beer (from a selection of 30 taps) was plenty easier than the choice of the artist for the evening. When all was said and done it was Laura Grill who went home with our humble door prize and our 247th LLOMC came to a close.


Tom Bianchi
Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge - The Backstage Beat - Boston

"Local C.D.'s: The Sawtells, Shawn Taylor"

Shawn Taylor, Free (self-released, Shawn Taylor plays his acoustic guitar Delta style, reminiscent of Mississippi John Hurt: country blues. He even does a speeded-up tribute to Hurt on “Pallet,” Taylor’s update of Hurt’s “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor.” On “Dime and a Bottle of Wine,” an original tune, Taylor is accompanied only by Billy Bileca on upright bass, and you can hear his smooth command of the difficult finger-picking style. Free also features Jim McKeeman and Chris D’Amato on acoustic guitars and Nick Longo and Mike Marble on drums. The band drops in and out as needed, making for a good variety of feels. Anchoring the whole thing is Taylor’s voice. Described as “wonderfully damaged” by the Advocate’s own Dan Barry, it is worn but not frayed, a smoky tenor that exudes confidence and authority. This kind of command comes from live performances — not just in clubs and coffee bars, but in living rooms and on front porches as well. Taylor gigs a lot in Connecticut and the Hudson River Valley area, solo, or with various members of his band. It’s easy to imagine him weaving his own tunes flawlessly together with folk-revival classics like “Jack-A-Roe” (also covered on this CD) in his live sets. —James Velvet (New Haven Advocate 2011)
- New Haven Advocate

"Album Review: "FREE" by Shawn Taylor"

If you’re looking for feel good music that can compliment any lazy, sunny day, Shelton-based singer-songwriter Shawn Taylor’s new album “Free” is just what you’re looking for.

“Free” is packed with comforting stories about hanging out by rivers, getting through life, and being with the ones you love. The lyrics blend seamlessly with the few styles of acoustic rock on this disc; from the steel guitar led opener, “Running Again”, to the Jonathan Edwards-like “Time For Us”. The guitars on this album convey another level of character that builds on the lyrics; and, mixed with Shawn’s heartfelt singing, make for a great listen.

“Outside the Lines”, a folky song about a quiet Sunday afternoon, manages to capture a number of images in under a minute and a half. The simple things in life are the main focus of this song, and the gentle instrumentation reminds the listener to take it easy every now and then; that life doesn’t always have to be a rush, and it’s welcomed to do nothing but hang around once in a while.

Taylor adds his version of “Jack-a-Roe” to this album, which has previously been done by both the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan. A fun, rollicking guitar drives the song and Taylor’s voice really brings out the sea in this interesting nautical tune.

The last song on the album, the title track, “Free”, starts with just an acoustic guitar, but is soon joined by drums and additional guitars, which is a powerful way to end the ten song disc. The lyrics to “Free” are just what the title could suggest: about being free and loving life. This song is a great way to sum up the feel of the previous songs in just over two minutes, and you’re left with positive vibes.

Overall, “Free” is a very well produced set of good time songs that will have the listener coming back again and again.

Taylor will be performing at Shelton’s Liquid Lunch (434 Howe Ave.) on January 15th, and if you want to find out how to get a copy of his CD, check out his website at
- Shelton Patch

"Tales From the Crypt"

On a coffin-sized stage, Shawn Taylor, a husky folksinger wearing a dark blue Kangol cap and a Tom Waits goatee, sings Dylan’s “I Want You” in a raspy voice. A crowd of 30 students has filled the dank, vaultlike room. Ten small tables hold beer bottles, bowls of popcorn. Dress is mixed: nose rings and designer eyewear, ripped jeans and cotton Dockers. A string of white Christmas lights, wound around a horizontal pipe on the brick wall behind the stage, forms a moody backdrop for Taylor as he swings into a country-blues number of his own, “Granite Highs and Muddy Lows.” Welcome to Postcrypt Coffeehouse, the dark heart that has been giving Columbia its musical beat since 1964.

Hairstyles, clothes, and the subject matter of songs have changed multiple times in the past 45 years. Yet inside this intimate little club, located at the bottom of a winding marble staircase in the basement of St. Paul’s Chapel, much has stayed the same. Admission remains free, as does the popcorn. The spot was, and is, student run. And the talent that has passed through here has often been extraordinary.

“We’ve had amazing singer-songwriters over the years,” says Nishant Batsha, a junior, who is the venue’s booking manager. “Everybody from David Bromberg, Suzanne Vega, Jerry Jeff Walker, to Jeff Buckley has played here when they were coming up. They were all but unknown when they did the Postcrypt. Of our recent performers, I think Anthony da Costa may be in their league. He’s just 17 and already is an incredible live performer. Anthony’s thinking of attending Columbia next year. If he does,” Batsha jokingly adds, “we’ll probably just give him the keys to the place.”

The name “Postcrypt,” for those wondering if this underground space was indeed once a burial chamber, actually has typically Columbian intellectual roots. In 1964, the University’s chaplain, Rev. John Cannon, dubbed the spot “Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments,” the title of a text by Kierkegaard. Over the years, the name was shortened, then buffed into something hip and Gothic.

“I found the place by accident,” says one sophomore with a tiny yin and yang tattoo on his neck. “My taste usually tends toward ’80s hardcore, like The Minutemen. But the music here is just as uncompromising. There’s no hype and no pandering. Hey, there’s even no electricity for
the performers!”

How does one get to play the Postcrypt? “Certainly you can send us a demo and some information about what you do,” says Batsha, “but it’s more fun to come and play on an open mic night. You get about 10 minutes or two songs. Make an impressive showing and it can lead to a gig.”

Shawn Taylor now strums another original tune, “The Bottom Line,” a lament for a working-class fellow who’s another victim of the current economy. “Billy lost his job today / He walked on in and they walked him away / Nothing personal, sorry / Have a nice day.” Not exactly a pleasant message for a bunch of college students who will soon be entering the job market. Yet judging from the smiling faces, Billy’s hard luck is still a distant abstraction. Tonight, it’s all about the music; there will be time to worry tomorrow.

— Peter Gerstenzang ’82GS, ’85SOA - Columbia University Alumni Magazine

""Shawn Taylor is a Poet of Decay" by Dan Barry"

On Saturday night I caught singer/songwriter Shawn Taylor at Acoustic Café. He has a wonderfully damaged voice — a sort of Tom Waits "I gargle cinder blocks in the morning" growl, but less of a put-on than Waits' bark. His lyrics dabble in a wonderful gritty naturalism that's uncommon around here. He has regular dates at CJ Sparrow's in Cheshire and Smokin' With Chris in Southington — check him out. - Hartford Advocate January 2009


Still working on that hot first release.



With a thumping thumb, dancing fingers, deep gritty soul stirring vocals & poetic blue collar lyrics; Taylor's songs ooze American roots.

His voice envokes Tom Waites, Ray Lamontagne, Bruce Springstien, Chris Smither, Bob Dylan & Eddie Vedder.
"Taylor has mellowness to his voice that works well against the frenetic flash of finger-picking that is the foundation of his songs," writes

His original songs draw from his working class wandering roots. He's been an oysterman, carpenter, hitchhiker, father, husband, 'Thru-hiker' (Appalachian Trail '96, Long Trail '97, & John Muir Trail '06) & full time musician since his '08 debut release "Wandering Roots."

His 3rd CD, "Home," debuted at #33 on the international folk DJ charts & landed a #4 song, "Waiting," on Acoustic Pie Radio (San Diego, CA), on It airs from Japan, to the Neatherlands, to WFUV in NYC.

He plays the solo troubadour in venues from New England to Nashville, including the Bluebird Cafe (Nashville, TN), the Towne Crier (Pawling, NY- where he won the Open Mike Finals), & The New Haven Folk Festival (New Haven, CT - a finalist in the Songwriting competition). He also leads, and records with, the ever evolving "Wandering Roots" band in Southern NewEngland.


Vance Gilbert

Kevin So

Garnet Rodgers
Amy Speace
David Jacobs-Strain
Danielle Miraglia
Michael Ronstadt
Scott Ainslie
Pat Wictor

The Sea, The Sea 

Band Members