Shannon and the Clams bring psychedelic doo-wop to Jacksonville

Ladies and gentlemen, its time to wrap yourselves in those 1950’s baby blue prom tuxedos and poodle skirts: Shannon and the Clams are descending upon downtown Jacksonville on January 22 at Burro Bar. This doo-wop, psych and surf rock trio will be making the trip from Oakland, CA to the River City after a long fall tour in the US and Europe.

Conceived in 2009, the band consist of Shannon Shaw (vocals/bass), Cody Blanchard (guitars/vocals) and Nate Mahan (drums), all of whom are friends that met and started playing together while at California College of the Arts. The band then began performing around the Bay Area, finding local and national recognition. If you ever have doubts about playing music or forming a band, Shaw explains, “Just go for it. If you want to do it, you can, and you should. I’m a big fake it till you make it kind of person, and I’m a late bloomer as well. I didn’t start playing until I was 25. I never played an instrument before and I just sort of decided that I wasn’t going to care that I was sh**ty. I was just going to give it my best and go for it, and I am glad I did.”

Imagine yourself at a drive-in movie theater; this is band that comes out of the screen with the dancing popcorn and soda cups to play psychedelic doo-wop on the hood of your car.

Six years and four albums later, with the most recent release of 2015’s Gone By The Dawn, Shannon and the Clams have seemed to have perfected their sound and style. Recorded at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, CA, Gone By The Dawn is definitely a more clean and polished side of their music. This is an honest album. There are undertones of a breakup record, respectfully, due to two of the Clams ending relationships before writing the album. Yet Gone By The Dawn still simultaneously maintains the bubbly, upbeat, and gritty retro rock sounds of a fun, summer beach record. Imagine yourself at a drive-in movie theater; this is band that comes out of the screen with the dancing popcorn and soda cups to play psychedelic doo-wop on the hood of your car. Every guy is sure to want to give up his letterman jacket and class ring to Shaw after hearing her sing, scream and howl her alto vocals.

From a never-ending, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas night in New Orleans to being beaten with eucalyptus leaves in the sauna of a Russian bathhouse in Chicago, Shannon and the Clams had their fair share of fun on the autumn tour. Following the end of the tour, guitarist and co-creative partner to Shaw, Cody Blanchard, moved from Oakland, CA to Seattle, WA. Commenting on the move, Shaw stated “It won’t be as easy to call him over and work on something together.” Thankfully, that seems to be the only stress, if any, the distance may put on the band. Shaw says she has also recently worked on some new material for future releases.

Much needed rest over the holidays allowed Shaw to dust up her E.T. collection, catch up on true crime dramas, and work on some visual art. Shaw explained that although she is somewhat out of the loop on the local music scene, she believes “people are very supportive and inviting in Oakland. There are lots of bands making weird, unique music and taking risks; not trying to sound like anyone else.” Mentioning a band her brothers are in, Shannon described Fried Hell, an Oakland-based pysch-rock band you can head bang to. Now, the Clams are back on the road to tour Florida and finish up in Puerto Rico. Later this spring, the band will focus on tours in the south, including appearance at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Shannon and the Clams transcend everything from doo-wop to punk to psychedelic and more, taking inspiration from the oldies and making it their own. Their live performances are a wild and engaging party. This is one show that cannot be missed, kicking off a great year of music in Jacksonville. Catch Shannon and the Clams this Friday, January 22 at Burro Bar with openers the Golden Pelicans and the Mold.

About Ricardo Maldonado