If after hearing my songs just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend or perhaps to strike a loved one it will all have been worth the while.”
Bay Area songwriter Shawn Byron has released his second single in the lead up to his debut album. The follow up to his original called "Money on the Moonshine", this new offering is actually a cover of my composition called "The Lighthouse At the Edge of the World."
I met Shawn, or as I've come to know him, Sean, at San Francisco's Bazaar Cafe, a haunt of up and coming talent as well as old hands on the the local music scene, nurtured by its all acoustic/no covers music policy. We were actually sitting at the same table when I came up with my "Ducks With Pants" moniker for my fake band as I doodled in a notebook. At the time we were still barely acquaintances, both killing time waiting for our chance up on stage — well the front of the cafe. Feeling a bit mischievous, I would show Shawn my sketches as I completed them and he would have to stifle his laughter. This was, to quote a phrase, the beginning of a beautiful friendship and Sean has been collaborator on many shows and recordings since.
When I first decided to invite other artists to perform covers of my songs to celebrate my birthday (the very first "EGPhest"), Sean came to perform his newly released recording based on the his own fondness for visiting lighthouses. In point of fact, the song came up when I suggested that might make a good topic for a song for him, which he dismissed as "so cliche" (at which point I sheepishly admitted I had such a song of my own). He was initially interested in doing a version of “Setting My Own Pace” for the Phest but later opted to do this song instead (and ended up accompanying me on accordion instead for that piece — see below), somewhat to the chagrin of the now proprietor of Bazaar, Josh Johnson, who also had his eyes on "Sett'n" as a song choice.
Sean developed his own meticulous finger picking arrangement of "Lighthouse" using a double capo and after its initial performance at EGPhest, he incorporated the tune into his repertoire as he played other Bay Area haunts such as the Hotel Utah Saloon and the now sadly defunct Doc's Lab. As he was putting together his debut album with producer Ryan Clark (whom he actually recommended to me for my first album, "Fish from the Sky") he asked if he could add this song to the overall set.
Sean's origin story includes time spent in Virginia and Southern California, but he now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. Working as an attorney and moonlighting as a folk balladeer, he's found a place among friends and fellow artists in our little community. He cites other singer-songwriters like Paul Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, and Van Morrison to be his primary influences. Dig deeper, and you will no doubt hear the likes of Stevie Wonder and Sam Cooke as well. And truth be told he's something of a musical magpie — sometimes to the great annoyance of his wife Jen when he adopts a new tune or resurfaces some obscure piece of pop culture for endless impromptu renditions, usually in his car (I have admittedly added to her suffering by trying to get her to join in a riff on Sean's occasional exclamation of "Goodness!" which is naturally, IMHO, followed by "Gracious! Great Balls of Fire!" — I cannot imagine why she doesn't relish her obvious role in this little repartee). Preternaturally talented, in addition to guitar Sean plays piano and dabbles with accordion. He's gifted when it comes to creating harmonies and not such a bad whistler either (he handles those duties on the release of "The Light In Sylvia's Window").
As for his own music, under his nom de plum "Shawn Byron," he aims to write about hope, particularly in the face of hopelessness—the dark clouds with the silver lining. His songs are reflective in tone, and always written with purpose. Given these parameters, it's little wonder that he was drawn to my tale of a man imagining exile at a remote and fantastical "edge of the world" — a place that seems even more real than ever in these days of ongoing and accelerating pandemic where social distancing has become a necessary requirement. Be assured that there are keepers out there maintaining the lanterns to keep you from falling over the edge.
It's a great honor to have had another artist record and release one of my songs. Having other artists take my creations and interpret them was, after all, my goal in creating EGPhest — a conceit I was never sure would work and was always pleasantly surprised as to how well it turned out as an event. So seeing one of those interpretations blossom into an actual release, and a single no less, is really gratifying, I'd even say Sean rescued this particular song from obscurity, if not oblivion, by taking it on — I'm not sure I would have ever revisited it myself otherwise. I hope you will enjoy his rendition.
Listen to Shawn's version on Spotify • Apple Music • Amazon or check out my version from At Home At Sea