Shannon Curfman is a redhaired fireball of a blues guitarist who has released three albums plus an EP in the last decade -- and she only turned 25 years old last month. Her latest CD, What You're Getting Into, was released in February, and now she's a member of Kid Rock's touring band. She took a breather from her busy schedule to speak with us recently.
RtD: You were just 14 when Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions was released. You were born in Fargo, North Dakota, like fellow blues guitarist Jonny Lang. Is there something in the water?
SC: Because of Fargo's winter climate you have a lot of time on your hands to either do a whole lot of nothing or get really good at your hobbies. I chose to practice playing guitar and singing. I think both Jonny and I were really lucky to find one of our passions so early on in life and for whatever reason we just really took hold.
RtD: What was it like to suddenly garner so much attention at such a tender age? I assume you had been playing for a while before recording that debut; where did you hone your chops?
SC: To me it was all very normal. I obviously didn't grow up one way first and then grow up again in a different way so what my family created as their lives during that time was what was normal to us.
I honed my music in clubs. I wasn't slinging drinks and pouring shots. I was simply there to play music. I started doing little midwest runs when I was 11 with my band who were all much older than me. We would play weekends and as much as we possibly could whenever I didn't have school. The couple years leading up to that, though, my mom would bring me to coffee shop open mic nights and I would enter myself into any talent show just for the chance to perform one song. That got old really quickly. I think it is such a shame that there are so many cities that don't embrace younger people that are interested in the arts. It was really hard to find an outlet for me to play music with other people and meet other musicians.
RtD: After more than a decade of making great records, you've played with a ton of incredible musicians. The list is like a Who's Who of blues artists as well as rockers, Some of these names make my head spin and my eyes turn green: Neil Young, Koko Taylor, John Lee Hooker, George Thorogood, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, not to mention Willie Nelson, John Mayall, Jackson Browne, the late Billy preston, Stevie Wonder, and my high harmony idol, David Crosby as well as so many others... it's an incredible roster. Looking back, were there times that you couldn't believe you were standing on the same stage as a certain person, or surprised at how accessible and "normal" a certain artist turned out to be?
SC: Every one of them was normal to me except one [who] wasn't very nice at all. [laughs] I appreciate all of the time that my predecessors give to me. I have been very lucky to have such talented and nurturing friends. When I was younger, I guess I didn't really understand the impact some of these people really have on our musical culture, but as I've gotten older it has hit me more and more. This June and July I have been touring as a member of Kid Rock's band and we have been touring with Bon Jovi. Every night we go up and do a Bob Seger song with Bon Jovi and it such a thrill. Being on stage in front of 80,000 people all singing Turn The Page really gives me the chills.
RtD: What You're Getting Into has so many great tracks, from the title track to the pulls-at-your-heartstrings "All I Have" to your spectacular covers of Queen's "Dragon Attack" and Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well." You recorded the album in Minneapolis, rather than deciding to "graduate" to Nashville, New York or L.A. -- was there any question that you'd do the record on your home turf?
SC: I'm not into frilly studios and don't feel the need to use all the new bells and whistles just to record a record with the kind of music that I do. I am still very basic with how we record so it doesn't entail a whole lot of people or time. When I am not on the road I really prefer to be at home with my family. When I started recording What You're Getting Into, my daughter was only ten months old, so the last thing I was going to do was leave to record an album. To me there was no other option.
RtD: So what does the future hold for Shannon Curfman?
SC: This year I joined Kid Rock's band as a singer and guitarist. It is a huge change of pace for me but I am loving every minute of it. The shows are jam-packed with energy and great songs.
As for my solo career I will fit things in when I can but for now I am focusing on songwriting and becoming a better guitarist. I'm not going to stop putting out albums and playing shows but for now all of that is on the back burner. If people want to know when I will be playing shows and any other fun things they can sign up on my mailing list on shannoncurfman.com and they will be the first to know.
Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions (1999)
Take It Like a Man (2006) (EP)
Fast Lane Addiction (2007)
What You're Getting Into (2010)