Jonny Lang apparently has learned something from his studies of Stevie Ray Vaughan; like SRV, Lang takes the stage and mentions up-and-coming musicians (like he was merely a few years ago) that we should take note of. One individual receiving Lang's accolades is 14-year-old newly signed to Arista Records recording artist Curfman.
Apparently Lang was so smitten with her talent that he was quoted in Rolling Stone as saying, "As far as young guitarists go, there's this girl in Minneapolis named Shannon Curfman. She does the old Chaka Khan funky blues kind of stuff. She's only (fourteen), and she scares me." Lang plays guitar on three cuts on the album, including the first single "True Friends." He also co-wrote "Love Me Like That."
Curfman sings all vocals and plays most of the lead guitar on "Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions," as well as writing over half of the songs, along with friends Kevin Bowe, Bruce McCabe and Lang. She can read sheet music after learning how to play the violin while in band and choir in grade school. Curfman has opened for the likes of John Mellencamp, Susan Tedeschi ("She was so nice to me.") and James Cotton.
"Things are going well and we all can feel the momentum growing with each passing day," said Curfman by telephone from Arista Records in New York City. "I just read a positive review of our last night's show by a tough New York Post reviewer. Are you going to be nice when you write about me? I played at Antone's recently and had a blast talking to Clifford (owner). He told me to stay out of small planes and helicopters, because he has lost too many friends to them. I promised him that I would."
An earlier version of Curfman's album was previously released on indie label Pop Sense Records in April of this year. "Arista wanted to re-mix the album, which gave me the opportunity to rework "True Friends," "The Weight" and "I Don't Make Promises (I Can't Break)," she said. "Plus I had grown a little in both my voice and guitar playing since I cut those songs for Pop Sense. After first listening to the remix, I really decided that I'm glad that we did this.
"Classic rock in the Santana, Johnny Winter mode was all my parents listened to," Curfman continues. "Malted Milk was the first song that I learned in its entirety. I listened to a lot of Robert Johnson's box set as well as Dwight Yoakam. The first time I ever played with a full band was with Jeff Healey and his band, so they made a huge impact on my career. I have a lot of time on my hands because I'm homeschooled. I always thought they wasted a lot of time in school, where you finish your assignment in 10 minutes and then have to sit there for another half-hour. I love it. I'm planning to graduate a year, maybe two years early. With the press and business end of all this, one needs a lot of time to get everything done.
"There was always music around the house from my parents' old classic rock records to the pop 80's radio stations that were on in my sister's room. For as long as I can remember I was always choreographing and singing along to all the songs I knew, and having a little show. When I was 7, I sang on-stage for the first time at a local talent show. And then I picked up the guitar when I was about 10. I had my first band when I was 11, and from there I was in a couple of different bands, and we finally moved to Minneapolis when I was 13."
How has her recent "discovery" by the media, and Arista changed her life?
"Playing music is what I want to do with my life," she said. "I've definitely been fortunate enough to have a great family, and especially a great Mom to keep me level-headed, and she always keeps my life very well balanced. I'm definitely a workaholic, and I'll work until I keel over, but she can tell when it's time for me to have a day off or a day to sleep in. That sort of thing. It's cool being young and knowing what you want in life. I still have my entire life ahead of me. But I love every part of this-traveling, meeting people, and playing music, of course. Just as long as I keep playing my music, I'm content. I invite everyone to come out and see me perform."
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.