43rd Cambridge Folk Festival

Sharon Shannon Interview

Cat talks the enigma that is Sharon Shannon!

From her stints with the Waterboys and Arcady, It would seem that just putting an accordion in Sharon Shannon's hands makes her happy. Luckily for the soft-spoken Shannon, others are just as happy when she picks it up.

CAT: You have performed a few times here [Cambridge Folk Festival] and every time I see you play the accordion I find it fascinating. Did you chose it or did it choose you?

Sharon: Well, I grew up in a family in Corofin [County Clare, Ireland] and my parents were are absolutely mad for music and they were always playing music and dancing round the kitchen and my brother Gary who was the oldest (there are four of us and I've an older sister and a younger sister) went to tin whistle lessons and he taught the rest of us - he had to come home to teach us...

CAT: And everyone joined in?

Sharon: Yes! And then when he went to secondary school, he joined a ceilidh band and they wanted...he used to play the whistle but they wanted a fiddle player so he took up the fiddle just to play with them and he took up the flute as well. It was my brothers idea that we all get different instruments....you know...all the different instruments there are for playing traditional music...there's the banjo, the fiddle, the flute, the pipes, the harp...the accordion [laughs]

CAT: [laughs] at least you can sit down while you're playing it!

Sharon: Yeah, it's the easiest one...I thought...from starting up from learning. Like a piano as well, you know, you hit the notes and it sounds good straight away.

CAT: You can at least see your progress straight away, can't you?

Sharon: Yeah, where as when you're playing the fiddle it sounds really scratchy and everything for ages and ages.

CAT: The thing that fascinates me is the hand-eye co-ordination - it's a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time! Did that come naturally to you?

Sharon: Oh [laughs], nothing comes naturally to anyone, there's a lot of hard work that goes into playing any instrument, an awful lot of practice. No matter how musical someone is, you still have to be able to put a bit of time in to make it good y'know?