Eryn Shewell not only believes that music can change the world one song at a time, but she's making others believe as well. She's one of the hardest working musicians in New Jersey and has been attracting the attention of music fans and club owners across the state as well. Recently nominated for several Asbury Music Awards, we finally had a chance to talk to Eryn about her career, her belief in music, and her little girl who might follow in her footsteps if she doesn't become a drummer first.
I first saw Eryn Shewell at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park over a year ago and was blown away by her performance. It's hard to believe, but she says that was her first ever live performance of her originals. Since then, her songs have gotten better and her band is now comprised of amazingly talented musicians that bring her rock and roll / country tunes alive with a touch of jazz and blues flavoring. The band includes John MacDonald on bass, Antonio Gambrell on trumpet and backing vocals, Pat Ruh on guitar, Elliot Kessler on drums, Kat Verderosa on backing vocals, and Doug Scocco on organ and keyboards.
"It boggles my mind that I have all these talented people that are doing so much for me and I don't even know how to thank them," said Shewell. "I thank whatever the powers that may be for them everyday. I'm a lucky girl."
Shewell has floated under the radar a bit by playing shows at many untraditional original music venues. In addition to her original band she also fronts a cover band called Stronger Than Dirt. Playing in both bands allows her to work on different angles of her music and helps her make more connections in the area.
"I love doing both," she explained. "It's two different worlds. With my originals I get to be more creative and the songs have more meaning. My cover band stuff lets me kind of just let it loose and rock out a bit."
Born in Washington, DC, Shewell moved to New Jersey when she was 8. Since then she has been lead singer for the country band Sundance, pop/rock band Easily Amuzed, and was a member of the popular New Jersey band Jody Joseph & The Average Joes. She recently won over audiences in New Orleans singing with national touring band Soul Project.
Eryn's taste in music was partly influenced by her parents. Her father listened to the Rat Pack while her mother was into country music. In high school, Eryn began getting into jazz artists like Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. Throw in some classic rock and those are the influences found in her songs. It's an interesting blend that has a distinct sound of its own.
Shewell and her band play throughout New Jersey and places in Pennsylvania and New York. Their biggest gig to date was last August's Musikfest, the 10-day music festival that takes place in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The band played in front of thousands of people who listened to every note played.
"It was amazing," said Shewell. "When it was said over the microphone that we had free CDs, it was like a bum rush to the table! We ran out of CDs and started handing out promos without covers or even cases. Then we ran out of everything! It was crazy!"
Eryn is currently recording an album with Grammy award-winning producer Jason Corsaro (Madonna, Sound Garden, Peter Gabriel, Mariah Carey). The process is taking longer than she'd like, but she hopes to have the
new record out sometime in 2008.
Nov 6, 2007 The Saint, Asbury Park, NJ
Nov 7, 2007 Internet Cafe, Red Bank, NJ
Nov 9, 2007 The Blue Room Lounge, Secaucus, NJ
Nov 10, 2007 Orphan Annies, Stirling, NJ
Nov 21, 2007 Internet Cafe, Red Bank, NJ
Nov 23, 2007 Rug's & Riffy's, Woodbridge, NJ
Nov 24, 2007 Molly Maguire's, Clark, NJ
Nov 27, 2007 Dexters, Riverdale, NJ
Dec 4, 2007 North Star Bar, Philadelphia, PA
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at email@example.com.