Shawn Nelson is a songwriter, musician, singer and recent transplant to Golden, Colorado from Austin, Texas. Born and raised in Houston, Shawn moved to Austin to play music and spent over 10 years performing, writing songs and making records.
The Austin Chronicle named his 2011's San Juan Street "one of the best country albums of the year."
“I'm just a Houston kid who's been lucky to write, play and record music for many years. I’ve been fortunate to play my music on all kinds of stages across the country and to release a few albums along the way. It's a labor of love and at this point, my life's work."
Over the years Shawn has released nine independent albums with various band mates – four under Shawn Nelson, one with Shawn Nelson & The Good Buds, two with Shawn Nelson & The Ramblers, one under his first band Crazy Chester and one under 2Fer1 with fellow songwriter, Graham Wilkinson, which was recorded at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, TN.
“I’m lucky to call the musicians who play on my albums, my friends. Every one of them is a fine soul and they believe in my music. I write most of my songs in solitude on a guitar or the piano, but for me, my music really comes alive when others are involved and that collective vibe and spirit is created - these guys make that happen and for that I am eternally grateful."
Shawn has shared all kinds of stages with all kinds of bands, from Gruene Hall with Asleep At The Wheel to Stubb’s with Drive-By Truckers to Shinyribs at Continental Club. Before departing Austin, Shawn held down two weekly residencies for years.
Tuesdays were down on the drag at the second oldest venue in Austin, The Hole In The Wall, with his string band pickers who are featured on the latest album, You Are Me. Wednesdays were on Rainey Street at Bungalow for the 2Fer1 show with fellow Austin songwriter, Graham Wilkinson.
"I’ve played my songs for many years in honky-tonks, bars, clubs, dancehalls, big stages, small stages, backyard parties, campfires, patios, hotel rooms, motel rooms, parking lots, farmers markets, flat-bed trailers, boats and even buses. Some of the songs are set closers, but all of them come from the heart and some of them are even true.”
2016 proved to be a productive year for the songwriter with his songs featured on two releases from Austin artists, Graham Wilkinson and Samuel Grey Horse. Graham recorded one of Shawn's unreleased reggae songs, "I Am Not Alone" for his #Because Of You album and Grey Horse recorded the traveling country love song, "More Than California" off 2011's San Juan Street.
“I am a songwriter, singer and player. My main instrument is the acoustic guitar, a Gibson J-45. I call her The Workhorse and she earns every inch of that name. We have had a storied life together. She was actually stolen at a gig in 2015 and was returned to me by the Austin Police! When I was re-united with her, I realized that I am here on this terrestrial plane to be a songwriter. I love to write songs and there's nothing better than playing my songs for folks, it’s what got me here and what keeps me going.“
Inspired by those Tuesdays at the Hole In The Wall, Shawn and the group of string band pickers featuring Matt Slusher (South Austin Jug Band, Wood & Wire) on guitar, Fletcher Murchison (Will Dupuy, La Tampiquena) on mandolin and Morgan Patrick Thompson (John Evans, Asylum Street Spankers) on upright bass recorded a live studio album, You Are Me, on May 25, 2016.
You Are Me was released in late 2016 and includes some new songs, two cover songs from Townes Van Zandt and The Carter Family and acoustic takes on previously released songs. It's all strings and all songs recorded on one day at Signal Hill Recording in Austin.
The future is unknown and uncertain, yet there is something exciting about that to Shawn. He is excited to start a new band in Colorado and looking forward to bringing his music to the high country.
Photo by Maggie Boyd