Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains Shawn Craver heard gospel, bluegrass, and old-time fiddle music, but it was from three rotary channels on the TV he heard the sounds of BB King and the blues. Through the blues he discovered an appreciation for U2, Elvis, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles, but it was bands like REM, and the "new wave" movement that lead him to pick up the guitar.
His first gig was at a bar at 16 and the repertoire would be prophetic. Bluegrass, alternative, blues, and folk defined (or "undefined") what he was doing. The 90's saw him taking a train west where in the upper midwest he played "college rock" in South Dakota and Minnesota. Once scheduled to open for the Goo Goo Dolls, he was kicked out of the bar for being underage. "There's more to that story...", Shawn recalls. He left for California and in the Bay Area shared a gig at a coffeehouse with Jeff Pearson, who went on to tour with the former members of Grateful Dead. Then Shawn moved to Nashville but had to leave suddenly for a family emergency and went back to the mountains where he worked on his fiddle music. There he won the Mid-Atlantic Grand Fiddle,Banjo and Mandolin Championship and learned fiddle from some of the last remaining traditional fiddlers in his region.
When Shawn tired of the original music scene in the mid 90s he began to play bluegrass and shared billings with Chris Thile, Tim O'Brien, and the Grammy award winning Nashville Bluegrass Band. He wrote songs for others and his fiddle tune "Angelfire" was picked up by 90's pioneering Washington state band, The Barbed Wire Cutters, whose recording of it was heralded by SPIN Magazine. Around the same time he joined Minneapolis bluegrasser (and writer of Bluegrass Unimited fame) Dick Kimmel on a recording called "Fishing Creek Blues" on Copper Creek Records of Virginia. The album received rave reviews all over Europe and the U.S.A. A supporting European tour was scheduled, but cancelled.
In the meantime, his own band Strings of Fire played in Minneapolis for Minnesota Public Radio when in 1997 Shawn released an album called "Over the Blue Ridge". But as the album garnered favorable review in Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine, Shawn lost interest in bluegrass singing and was distracted by his fiddling. He ended up in Wichita, Kansas where he formed a Celtic-Americana project called The Raging Sea Band. The band's four year run climaxed at the country's largest Celtic festival, The North Texas Irish Festival in Dallas, TX. When the band broke up, Shawn started a new fiddle band and after being a featured fiddler at the Kansas State Fiddle championship, Shawn returned to the "college rock" he started with. In 2015 he formed a band called "The DeVeils". After a dramatic breakup, The Wichita Eagle reviewed his prolific unpredictably as a musician in 2016:
"...one of Wichita's most prolific songwriters and performers. Fans sing along to his local hit "Raging Sea" and his versatile guitar playing prefers notes that weep rather than twang. With a myriad of influences that range from The Cure to Lower Dens, the music has been described as "alternative", or even "goth." His eccentric performances leave the audience guessing as to what might be next from show to show. Shawn's performances around central Kansas number into the 100s with a range that attracts lovers of music of varying styles."
Shawn says of his musical career so far: "I am like a Forest Gump of music. I wander with musical styles. And I've been in every state except two or three and have only had brushes with with fame. Sometimes I got by with music, but sometimes I had a job. I've worked as a meat packer, in a box factory, a Karate instructor, as a counselor, a business manager, and even a robot operator at a kids restaraunt. And I have played a lot of good music a long the way."
While playing music and working Shawn also earned a Bachelors degree and will finish a Masters in Theology this autumn. This renaissance man's current schedule is based either on his fiddling or his original music. Sometimes he tells stories about his moonshiner grandpa and quirky things that have happened on his many travels. Though a former Maryland State banjo champion, he does not play banjo in public anymore since as he says, "There's already enough trouble in the world..."
BIO ON WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawn_Craver