Shannon McMahon

Wishing On Planes

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Wishing On Planes Release Day

Today is the day Wishing On Planes is finally released. This 9-song album features a couple of old favorites and some new material, all anxious to see the light of day. I'm very excited about this release, because the last album I released was in 1996, and a sign of the times, since it was recorded on reel-to-reel. I really hope I don't wait another 20 years to release the next one. 

I worked with Paul Opalach at Long Hill Recording, and together we set out to bring the album to life. First, I had to get over my fear of the click track. (I think they call that WhereIsTheBeatophobia.) It turned out to be surprisingly easy with Paul on percussion. We had a lot of fun creating the mood for each song, using Paul's band of talented musician personas as well as a few friends to help tell each story. It's an amazing thing to see the life of a song grow in the recording process. You just never know where it will take you.

We certainly had a lot of laughs. I even had a chauffeur one snowy morning! Paul came to pick me up so we wouldn't miss a session. I got used to Mondays at Long Hill, to the point that I miss them now. :)

The actual CDs arrive via UPS this afternoon, but the digital format is available right now on this website via the music tab, or at CDBaby. I was hoping it would be available everywhere today, but it won't hit Amazon, Apple Music or Spotify for another few days, or perhaps even weeks. Good things come to those who wait, I suppose, but not to me. I was going to wait until then to post this blog, but somehow I just couldn't. Hope you enjoy the new album. I'll have it with me at The Outer Space in Hamden on May 13.



Happy New Year! 2013 is unfolding around us, and as it's traditional to think about change, and starting fresh, I am looking at what I would like to see happen in my life of music. I refuse to call my goals for the coming year resolutions. They never come true. I'd prefer to call them wishes. These are things that I want to achieve. Looking back at 2012, I see that I played open mics at some new places, had a few more gigs than in 2011, and made some new contacts. I did not write any songs in 2012. I only wrote one blog post. Not exactly what you would call a productive year, musically, but the experiences do grow, as time goes by.

So here's what's on my wish list for 2013:

*Write songs! (Good songs, of course.) *Record Lost in Montreal *Push harder to get my music out where it can be heard *Connect with fans locally and globally via social media, e-mail, at shows and writing monthly posts of this BLOG (Yes, I know this year was a little short on blog posts), to remind them how very important they are to me *Get a slot as a performer at Musikfest 2013 in Bethlehem, PA *More gigs, of course, if I can

Did I leave anything out? Most of these are doable, I think. All of them are steps required to take my music to another level.

It has always been a dream of mine to make something out of my music, to get to the point where people want to hear it, buy it, and come to live shows, even pay to see me play. I feel like I'm dipping my toe in the water, but the water is ice-cold. I am invested body and soul in this endeavor -- have been since I was young. It's in my blood. My story isn't any different from the millions of talented others who want the same thing, but I keep going...I keep chasing that tumbleweed.


Five States in Two Days

I'm writing this post in the stupor of near exhaustion after a few days of circumnavigating the Northeast. I  passed through five states in two days--Massachusetts for an open mic, Pennsylvania for a birthday party, through Connecticut, New York and New Jersey to get where I needed to go, and then back home for a two-hour stint volunteering at the Milford Oyster Festival. I guess I need a better event planner. Thursday evening I played an open mic night (Hootenany) at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Nestled in the Berkshires, Great Barrington is a beautiful town two hours north of here. We met up with friends from Second Life, including Alex Whitmore, (Capos Calderwood in SL) and had dinner at Gypsy Joynt Cafe, a family owned restaurant and live music venue with a colorful hippie vibe.  It was great to finally get a chance to eat there after hearing about it a year ago when I was playing FODfest. Jordan Weller, who also played FODfest last year, books the musical talent. I really wanted to go introduce myself to him, but shyness got the better of me. I am really lousy sometimes at speaking up about myself.

Signup for open mic started at 7pm, but we had heard the list fills up amazingly quickly, so we finished up our dinner and headed over to the Guthrie Center. Housed in the Old Trinity Church (the place where Alice lived in the movie Alice's Restaurant), the Guthrie Center serves those in need in the community and offers educational, spiritual and cultural programs.  We were lucky enough to arrive just before 7, and even though they weren't officially open, we were invited in. Alex and I signed up for the fourth and third spots, getting our names on the list before anyone else did.


While we were inside, a storm was brewing outside. Flashes of lightning and echoes of thunder created the backdrop for our show inside the church. Open mics bring a range of talent, and the spectrum was covered that night.  My own voice was weak due to a sore throat I just couldn't kick. As a result, my three songs didn't have the strength and energy they usually do, so I was disappointed in my performance, but the crowd was appreciative.  Alex played three songs after I did and the crowd really enjoyed them.  After we listened to a few more musicians, it was time to go. We were worried about the weather and how treacherous that might make the long drive home, but we were graced with  some beautiful lightning illuminating the sky and a few sprinkles of rain. By the time we finally pulled into our driveway, it was midnight.

Friday dawned, bringing with it the task of a three-hour drive to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for my sister-in-law's surprise birthday party. The sun was shining and it was hot and humid, but it was clear, which made it perfect for driving. I left the house just before 1pm, hoping not to get stuck in any traffic. My wish was not granted, however. There were pockets of traffic all along the way. Nevertheless, I arrived three hours later. The weather forecast for the next several hours was not good. I had seen some nasty looking clouds gathering on my way in.  The thunder, wind and rain came as we were outside setting up for the party. Luckily, it only lasted an hour, and then the sky brightened. It was a nice party. My sister-in-law was truly surprised and everyone had fun. I had brought my guitar and was supposed to sing, but the moment for it never happened.  The party had a good groove going and sometimes it's hard to introduce something like that without breaking the rhythm. I'm not sure my voice was all that good anyway--it was still recovering from the sore throat/cold thing.  By the time the party ended and all the guests had gone home, it was 2am. So much for a good night's sleep. Saturday came too quickly, and I woke up anticipating the day's three-hour drive home.

At around 10am I made my way back home, making good time till I got to Connecticut. The turnpike was backed up much of the way, and I was running out of time. I needed to be at the Milford Oyster Festival at 3pm for my two-hour volunteer shift scooping kettle corn for the Perry House, and I was  in desperate need of a shower. I managed to get home about 1:30, and arrived at the kettle corn booth at 3:15.  By 5:10, my shift was finished and I was dead on my feet.  I received a large bag of kettle corn for my efforts. Afterwards, we went out for dinner with friends and I got home in time to get ready for my only Second Life show of the day.  I was truly exhausted right before my show, but somehow the crowd kept me going. What a great way to close out the day. Needless to say, I've got nothing on my schedule for the next few days...

Montreal Jam 2011

I'm still basking in the afterglow of this year's Montreal Jam, held July 29, 30 and 31 up in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec.  An awesome confluence of musicians and fans, this gathering seems to get better each year.  20 Second Life musicians graced the stage on Saturday and Sunday, including Gandalf Mornington, Stratus Mactavish, Montrealer Moody, Montian Gilruth, me (Shannon Oherlihy), Eponine Dench, Maximillion Kleene, Wren Hartunian, FunkyFreddy Republic, Tamra Sands, Maurice Mistwallow, Wytchwhisper Sadofsky, Taunter Goodnight, JellyJellyJelly Benelli, Katydid Something, Slim Shaky, Jase Branner, FrancoOis Beaumont, Lyndon Heart and Norris Shepherd. Back in 2009, at the first Montreal Jam, I was the poster child for the stolen guitar...the cautionary tale of how not to lose your instrument, and it was a minor underlying theme this year, with choruses of "Where's your guitar?" heard throughout the weekend. I did manage to come home with my guitar this time, although I had a momentary scare on Saturday night. Rich and I were getting ready to go and I went to the restroom and then to pack up my guitar, only to find it not there. Where's my guitar?" I said to Bree, and she said, "Oh no, not again."  I turned around and there was Rich with my guitar -- he had packed up my gear for me, loyal and dedicated roadie that he is.

The music started at the Friday night mixer, held at Dundee's, a bar and restaurant in the heart of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. The impromptu jam featured many of the musicians on a rotating basis and was a great way to get a sense of each musician's style. There was a pajama party planned for back at the dorm, but everyone elected to stay at Dundee's and keep playing till midnight.

In 2009, at the first Montreal Jam, I was not that comfortable about asking people to join in my set -- I had only been playing in Second Life just under a year, and was very shy. What if they said no? After having been to both Montreal in 2009 and Hartford in 2010, I realized that a bit of preplanning helps to make things go smoother, even though the off-the-cuff stuff totally rocked!  The musicians were so top-notch, it felt like we had been playing together for years. I was pleased and honored to be asked to sing and play in the sets of Montrealer Moody, Katydid Something, Maurice Mistwallow and JellyJellyJelly Benelli.  The structure was such that anyone could jump in at any time, but it was nice to be included specifically.

It's always wonderful to play when there is a great sound system available. I think it makes a major difference, and it sure did here. I know Rich enjoyed running the sound board and he did an excellent job. (Yes, I might be a little biased, but as a musician, I know the sound was great.)

I ended up playing a mix of originals and covers in my set.  My story of the stolen guitar, Lost in Montreal opened the set. The covers I played were God's Promise, You Ain't Goin Nowhere, Black StarAngel From Montgomery, America, Wayfaring StrangerParadiseKathy's Song, Different Drum. 40 Years On, Emotional Vampire and Anyway were the originals. That was my set, to the best of my knowledge. I did play in a couple of other sets, so my memory might overlap.  The crowd in-world in Second Life was amazing. The screen was shown behind us on a curtain attached to the stage.  I turned around from time to time to see if I could see anyone I knew, and to check the time. It was neat to get a request from someone in-world too. My only regret for my set was that I didn't specifically ask for singers to come up, and I should have. There were some awesome vocalists there. I guess I thought that it was implied that they were all welcome. Next time I will make that clear.

I am sure I missed out on a lot of fun by not staying at the dorms. From the stories I heard, everyone was up till all hours playing and singing and enjoying each other's company. We stayed at a lovely B&B, Gite Angell,  just over the bridge. It was right on the lake and so relaxing. The breakfasts were out of this world...stuffed french toast and sausage, fresh fruit and yogurt, toast and cheeses for Saturday breakfast, and a bagel topped with pesto, tomatoes and cheese, roasted grapefruit with fresh fruit and candied ginger on top, cheese and toast for Sunday's breakfast.

We left on Sunday in the afternoon, so I missed the closing. Wish we could have stayed, but as often is the case, RL called. The woman at the border crossing didn't understand why we would travel to meet people that we met on the Internet. We didn't have time to explain with any depth what it all meant to us.

Sincere thanks to Montian, Bree and all who helped make this jam the great one it was. It's always wonderful to meet new people, make new friends and share our love of music together.

When Songs Leave the Nest

I am a songwriter. I wrote my first song when I was 10 or so. Of course, it wasn't any good, but that's not the point. That song was the beginning of a new way of expressing myself. A number of years later (too many to mention), I am still writing songs, despite a 12-year gap that made me wonder if my songwriting was a fluke. When I was writing these songs, I never stopped to think what the end result would be. I assumed I would perform and record them, and that was pretty much it. So when a Second Life musician friend came to me and asked if he could play one of my songs in his set, I said no. I never really thought about what it would mean for someone else to play my music -- my thinking didn't go that far. I had to revisit what my goals were for myself in regards to my music. My dream has always been about performing, recording and writing. And what happens if I let go of one of my songs? I don't mean give it away, but what would happen if I lent it to someone else, for them to put their own stamp on it? I wasn't prepared for that. The word mine kept popping into my head.  After I thought about it a bit, and talked to other songwriters, I decided to say yes. The person who asked is a musician whose talent and skill I respect, and I could imagine that his version of the song would sound really good.  It was a strange feeling to hear one of my songs sung by someone else, but also interesting to hear another interpretation, especially since it was a great rendition.

The upside of letting other people play my songs is the possible broader audience and wider exposure it might garner for my music. It is also very flattering to have written songs that resonate with other musicians and songwriters. Other musicians have asked to play some of my other songs, and I am still a wee bit tentative. I do draw the line on songs I myself have not yet recorded or released. Even if Elvis himself, or anyone topping the charts asked, I would have to say no. Maybe it's selfish, but I want to be the one that gets the first shot at it. The songs I write are like children to me -- little pieces of me that I unveil and scatter into the world. They develop and grow in my heart, and I become attached to them, making it ever so hard to let go.

© 2018 Shannon McMahon Music