Like alotta people, it all started with my first guitar, that near-magical, transporting box of wood and strings and soul. Got it when I was 11, it was a little Telstar acoustic, a Christmas gift that year. I'd seen the Beatles and the Stones on tv, and that pretty much sealed the deal for me. I was writing before I could even play, that was the first thing I really wanted to do musically. Early on, I began playing out solo, and then in bands, from about the time I was 15. Picked up piano, banjo, mandolin, all the other instruments, along the way. I always liked making as big a sound as possible, and, well, I figured the more things you could play, the bigger the noise you could make... I left home, which was Bethlehem, Ct., at age 17. Played my way thru Boston and Vermont, down to D.C., Virginia, and Nashville. When I was 20, and playing out on Eastern L.I. with my band, I decided I should go to New York City, see what I could do there. And so I did, 2 days after my 21st birthday. That was a fun and exciting time. Played all the local clubs, bars, etc, Kenny's Castaways, CBGB's, Folk City, The Bitter End, and the Bottom Line, to name a few. Did some sideman work as a guitarist and piano player, which wasn't bad, I got to tour Europe and Canada a few times, lotsa fun. Around that time, the band and I recorded an EP for a small label out of New Jersey; a few vinyl copies (yes, vinyl) still exist, mostly in my closet. Met alotta players, and soon enough put together the band and the songs that got me signed to Atlantic Records and EMI Publishing. That CD, titled simply "Bernie Shanahan", came out in '89, and these days is kind of a hard get, but still lurks on eBay and elsewhere. Played tons of gigs all up and down the East Coast. Did background vocal sessions on some pretty diverse projects, with artists like Cher, Michael Bolton, and one of my true favorites, Alice Cooper. Eventually, things kinda fell apart at Atlantic, and I sorta drifted for a while, doing some commercials, working in bars. I kept on writing and playing, but not much in public. Little by little, I got more and more restless, and felt I needed to get back to what it was about music that I loved in the first place, the writing, the playing, the honest parts of it all. In 2005 I decided enough was enough, it was time to say what I had to say, do what I had to do, and this whole journey began that summer. Assembled what would come to be called BearStudio, a pretty awesome recording setup in my apartment, whose motto is "No Excuses" (a sign with those words on it hangs above the workstation, as a constant reminder to do the best I can). Then I got to work, trying to record songs as true as possible to my heart and musical vision. What I thought would take me 6 months took 8, then 12, and finally 16 months, start to finish. So now we arrive at the new CD, "You". Along the way I had alotta great help, tons of inspired nights, and not a whole lotta sleep. Really just about the best times I've ever had getting my own stuff together, written, and recorded. And now we go from here, we see how far we can drive this thing. Hopefully for a good long time...
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