Shannon Lyon – Cosmic Canadian Music

Fred Eaglesmith has said that someday music scholars will look at the western half of southern Ontario the same way they look at west Texas, as a unique source of songwriters steeped in traditionalism, but also possessing a keen sense of the lonesomeness that goes hand-in-hand with their surroundings.

Along with Eaglesmith, one songwriter that perfectly fits that description is Shannon Lyon. After establishing himself for the better part of the 1990s as an uncompromising rocker with a folkies soul. Through a handful of acclaimed albums and cross-Canada tours, in April, 2000 Lyon laid everything bare with Summer Blonde (Square Dog), an album of stark beauty which proved to be his most well-received to date.

Upon the albums release, Lyon put together a new band, the World Record Players, consisting of guitarist Chris Gatchene (Fat Cats), drummer Jeff Cowell, and bassist Jay Schneider (rock scribe and Exclaim Magazines resident alt-country expert). For the next year Lyon lived out his van (literally), often sharing stages with Blue Rodeo, Oh Susanna, The Sadies, the Skydiggers and the Northern Pikes.

In fall, 2000, Lyon embarked on a solo tour of the U.S. with good friend Richard Buckner, resulting in his first contact with a potentially large new audience. The spirit of exploration eventually found Lyon to Holland in March, 2001, following an emotional send-off at his favourite hometown venue, Waterloos Jane Bond Cafe (recorded for posterity).

Soon after arriving in Holland, Lyon experienced first-hand the countrys passion for North American roots music, while establishing himself on the national club circuit, including Amsterdams legendary Melkweg. By the fall, Lyons talents had caught the attention of InBetweens Records, a natural fit considering the labels strong Neil Young connections (in 2002 it will release albums by Youngs sister Astrid and Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot).

Lyons first InBetweens release is Dharma, another chiefly acoustic album, although with a more spontaneous and organic feel than Summer Blonde. The tracks were drawn from home recordings with Cowell and Schneider, outtakes from the Summer Blonde sessions and a late night recorded crawl with long time friend and producer Bill Braun (Buffalo White, Summer Blonde).

In March 2002 Dharma will hit stores in Belgium, Italy, Holland and the UK, just in time to mark the one-year anniversary of Lyons arrival in Europe, at which point Lyon will return, this time with his band, The World Record Players.

Until then, Lyon and band will be out on the road in Canada (now augmented by Summer Blonde keyboardist Chris Giesbrecht) working out new material for a long-delayed album that promises to fully combine the loud and quiet contrasts of his songwriting. The goal will also be to combine Lyons new far-flung fan bases, although all would probably admit to being part of the Cosmic American Music community Gram Parsons defined 30 years ago. With Shannon Lyon now staking his own claim to being included in that elite club, maybe the term can be amended to include Cosmic Canadian Music.


Shannon Lyon in Holland

The Netherlands

It has only been a year since Shannon Lyon stepped off a plane into Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. Already established in his home country of Canada as a singer/songwriter of uncommon depth, notably with his 2000 album Summer Blonde (Square Dog), by March, 2001 he was looking for new areas to explore. He took his friend, and fellow singer/songwriter, Rob Lamothes advice to go to Holland, where it was clear that audiences have always been receptive to North American roots music.

“Rob would tell me about his travels through Holland and Germany, he’d tell me that if he could move his musical career into Holland he would, and if there was a chance of getting myself and my music into the Netherlands he’d help me to achieve it,” Lyon says.

Lyon embraced the idea whole-heartedly, sacrificing most of his belongings (with the exception of his guitars) to make the move to Arnhem Holland. Once there, he hooked up with Lamothes rhythm section along with newly recruited pedal steel player Harrie Brekelmans, and set out to introduce himself to Dutch audiences.

“For the first few weeks I was sleeping on the floor at my piano players apartment. I was handed a cell phone, a bicycle key and a map of the city it was all very surreal. Even the smell of the water was different.”

It didnt take long for Lyon to find a home in the clubs and Cafe’s.

“I generated enough interest to keep myself touring for nine months, up and down the North Sea coast-line, along the German border and into the north of Holland to places like Terschelling Island, man it was beautiful up there.”

By the fall he had attracted the interest of Dutch label InBetweens Records, which quickly agreed to release Dharma, another starkly beautiful acoustic album in the spirit of Summer Blonde. Although this time drawn from home recordings in Canada with his band The World Record Players and cuts from late night studio sessions with producer and long time friend Bill Braun (Buffalo White, Summer Blonde).

The album will be released in March, 2002, in Holland, Belgium, Italy and the UK, at which point Lyon will take a break from touring with his band in North America to support his European release.

Dharmas release will be a natural fit with other albums InBetweens plans to release in 2002, including a solo debut from Neil Youngs bassist Billy Talbot.


What people say
(Dharma review)

“Shannon Lyon’s music goes straight to your heart, it slips into your soul and turns it into a grey fog. It’s a sad, nostalgic folk-rock with strong sensations around it. Dharma has the power to let you forget about rock’n’roll energy and big drums with its twilight emotions  it strikes you with its pure, simple and home-made arrangements.     The piano paints a masterpiece like Soul of The World, while acoustic guitars, lap steel (Bill Braun and Jay Schneider) and Shannon’s voice makes a warm atmosphere. Shannon has a strong poetic inspiration and the kind of spontaneity of a classic folk singer. A comparison between Shannon Lyon and Neil Young could be excessive, anyway Canadian winters have shaped another great talented songwriter” (Carlo Lancini)

Hello….a great week of shows…. Maastricht, Nijmegen and a very sweet hometown show here in Arnhem. Harry arrived back from a 2 week stay in a secret location and joined Robin and I at the Katoen Club in Arnhem….a wonderful audience!   Canadian label Busted Flat Records will be releasing a live CD sometime in late December 2002…they’re sorting through recorded shows from my European journey these past 4 months. I’ll keep you posted. -sl        

Dagblad De Limburger Cafe Jenze “Live Review” Maastricht, Holland

Shannon Lyon keeps us longing for more.
“My sister said that I was sitting thinking in the kitchen so much, that I
should just paint my windows black.”  No, Shannon Lyon’s world isn’t always happy, but as long as he translates that sorrow into beautiful songs like Black Windows then there’s nothing wrong with that.
   In the nineties the Canadian made a name as a rocker without compromise to evolve into a singer-songwriter with a preference for American roots music. Thursday evening he could fully confess to that.      The concert was held in front of a well filled bar and the audience was remarkably receptive. Every time the crowd tended to get a little noisy, Lyon regained their attention with his forcefull performance. A performance that from a distance resembled the late Nick Drake. But unlike the tragic english troubadout the Canadian was blessed with a healthy sense of relativity. Dark songs were alternated with light uptempo work.
   Many of the country-ish songs were from the with friends recorded album Dharma. Songs like The Inbetween, Crystal Ball and Olde Freightliner stood upright despite the missing backing band and vocals.
Not in the least cause of the surprising presence of Robin Berlijn. In a far distance the Benjamin of the Amsterdam guitar school and on his seventeenth prominent member of the Fatal Flowers. His strategic dosed guitar accents were an effective counter balance to the sometimes modest and sometimes aggressive staccato playing of Lyon. Even when Berlijn was not using his slide iron he gave the songs a pleasant melancholic atmosphere.
   In between songs Lyon announced the release of his freshly recorded record tentatively titled Wandered. Though because of some problems with the end mix we have to wait a bit for that, he gave us some tasters of it and that sounded real good. If the rest of the
album will be like that it’s something to long for.
On sunday 6 october Shannon Lyon and Robin Berlijn are playing the Lexor Theatre in Heerlen. The duo will be extended with pedal-steel player Harry Brekelmans. Start 20:15 hrs.      

September 19th, 2002     

 Rob lamothe and I shared the stage in Belgium this past Monday night. It was Rob’s last performance for 6 months or so and it was a great night, 150 people packed into into the club. Thanks to all involved!!  Rob and I are looking into a small theatre tour in October 2003 in Holland,  Belgium and Germany.

 Next day Rob was flying out of Koln, Germany and on the way to the airport we were pulled over by three German squad cars. They asked me for ID, I only had a Summer Blonde poster and a CD with my picture right there on the cover, I held them up beside my head, the officers seemed satisfied.

 They started to search the car and then went through our luggage, including the soundhole of my acoustic guitar. Holding my guitar above his head he started shaking it, it looked like he was trying to retrieve his guitar pick. They didn’t find the drugs and they didn’t buy a CD.

They let us go after a 30 minute search and we got Rob to the airport just in time.

 The first day of recording i broke out with fever and rash. I thought the rash might be the result of insect bites or fleas, but with the fever and an unbearable itch it was determined that indeed i had caught the damn chicken pox. We decided to continue recording. Two weeks later we were finished.  

  Bartjan Bartmans was hired to produce and direct the cast of characters through this 2 week session and he certainly was the man, with duties also on bass and guitar…you bad ass!

 The lovely Stephan vander Meijden held down the beats and offered up his keyboard talents…(Stephan could use more than 4 fingers on the piano.. we knew he was the man for the job)

 Robin Berlijn offered up his beautuful tone and gentle arrangements with songs like Yellow and Naive.

 Ellen ten damme shared with us her beautiful vocal harmonies on songs like Could You Be My Light, Naive, You Showed Me How ....damn voice!

 And of course the gentle Harrie Brekelmans layed down the sweet sounds of his pedal steel. Come home soon.

 Two weeks on the farm.

 Each morning and one at a time we’d all slowly emerge (from at least 4 hours sleep) and greet one another over coffee, eggs and bread. We’d talk about the songs….eventually I’d wander out under that big old Limburg sky and stare out across the field of fruit trees. Off in the distance you could see the Auto Baun winding into Germany. It all seemed so necessary and somehow comforting. In a few hours we’d end up back in the recording room ready for another go at it.

 Thank you all for the experience and for the love and respect, and Leon..thanks for the letting us move in!  -shannon

 Well it’s final…..i head into the studio next week (August 21) to start recording bed-tracks for the new record …and with a fine cast of characters i might add……to emerge with the new sounds in about 10 days……i’ll see you then.   

 Shannon in Germany…..the last 2 weeks of November I will be performing in Germany…schedule coming soon. will be posting an mp3 from Dharma as part of an online CD celebration of Ryan Adams songs. (It’s the hidden track on Dharma if you hadn’t found it yet.)

 Well it’s been about 2 months of Dutch living now and lots of great things are happening…Harry, Robin and myself are preparing to head into the studio at the end of August to start recording the new record (to be released Inbetweens Recordsin December)

  Barcelona, Bound, Yellow, Sad Nights, Could You Be My Light..…and we’ll have a look at a few new songs i’ve written over the past weeks….Someday Mourning, Oh Why and I’m only Falling….still in a scattered mess of papers…beneath an array of empty bottles and coffee mugs …. just starting to introduce the new to the live.

 Summer Blonde will also be released in Europe on Inbetweens Records, finally a new home. The artwork will change slightly but the tracks will remain the same. I recently purchased Summer Blonde back from the Canadian label this past May.

 Dharma has just been released into The UK, we’re hoping for good things there, still no UK touring news.

 That’s about it for now really…enjoy your summer wherever you may be…..i’ll be adding a text & tab link to the website…..been getting requests for it…..i’m up for other requests if you have them. thanks for coming in for a visit..see you soon – shannon

 I’ve recently teamed up with Dutch guitarist Robin Berlijn (Fatal Flowers, Ellen ten Damme). Our first appearance together will be at The Winston in Amsterdam on Friday July 19th. 

 NEW ALBUM I am in negotiations with my Dutch label Inbetweens Records for my next record.  I’ll be working with Dutch producer Bartjan Bartmans (J.W. Roy, BJ’s Pawnshop). The album is tentatively scheduled for a late 2002 release.  I’ll be heading into the studio in late August.

It has been quite a wonderful week and 1/2…seeing old friends and finding new ones (Thorn rocks!!)..Rob Lamothe and I shared the stage in 4 dutch cities..Amsterdam, Thorn, Arnhem and Leiden…to quiet and wonderful audiences….Rob’s friends and fans are truly amazing…it’s been great to have met all of you.  I’ll be heading back out on those beautiful Dutch roads starting tonight (with one trip to Belgium) throughout June: Edam, Roosendaal, Tiel, Oerole Festival ..etc…and remember all you kind Dutch people…it’s ‘Lake Huron’…not  ‘Lick Your Own’.   see you – shannon