“You could hear anything from Bach to Beyoncé - he is one of the most exciting live performers of his generation”
Shane Hennessy is an Irish virtuoso guitarist, songwriter, & composer. Coming from a background in Irish traditional music, Shane has been captivating audiences globally for the past few years with sell-out solo tours in Europe, Russia, and the United States under his belt, as well as regular appearances at major international music festivals including the prestigious MerleFest. His most recent album ‘Rain Dance’ has been hailed as “a triumphant reaffirmation of his virtuosity and compositional excellence” by Irish Music Magazine. He has appeared as a guest of Tommy Emmanuel, and has worked with Grammy- winner Bill Whelan (composer of Riverdance).
Described by legendary guitarist Tommy Emmanuel as “a brilliant entertainer and an amazing musician who transcends the guitar the same way Muhammed Ali transcended boxing”, Shane has developed an unmistakably unique voice on the guitar, blending his native Irish music with elements of jazz, country, blues, funk, classical, soul, world, and hip-hop, both vocally and instrumentally. Super-producer Nile Rodgers (CHIC) has said that “his style is killer”.
Having started out initially as a concertina player, playing Irish traditional music from a young age, Shane discovered the guitar at age thirteen. Inspired by hearing the music of James Taylor, he developed an interest in solo acoustic guitar after being pointed in the direction of Tommy Emmanuel, and rapidly became an avid fan and player of acoustic music. “Seeing Tommy Emmanuel play the guitar on a Woodsongs episode was definitely a moment of epiphany for me. His energy and music were both amazing, and I was blown away by the possibilities that could be unlocked by learning to play fingerstyle guitar. It was like I had only seen the guitar in black-and-white, and all of a sudden it was in colour.”
Shane is a firm favourite on the festival scene in the United States, appearing at prestigious roots festivals such as MerleFest and Appaloosa, as well as numerous Irish and Celtic Festivals including Milwaukee Irish Fest (WI), Kansas City Irish Fest (MO), Irish Fest Chicago (IL), Michigan Irish Music Fest (Muskegon, MI), and many more.
Shane has released three albums of original music - Zephyrus (2015), and Marrakech (2017), and most recently Rain Dance (2020). In 2017, his solo show in Ireland’s National Concert Hall for the release of ‘Marrakech’ was a sold-out show. In April 2020, he released ‘Rain Dance’ on a livestream supported by Culture Ireland’s #IrelandPerforms initiative which garnered an enormous audience of 120,000 people. Shane has also been awarded a prestigious Arts Council (Ireland) grant in 2020 to work on a suite of music to be released before the end of the year.
Along with his career as a solo artist, Shane has also been involved in production and writing with a number of artists including Chloë Agnew (formerly of Celtic Woman), Lisa Canny, Ashley Davis, and MENRVA. In 2018, Shane worked with renowned Riverdance composer and Grammy-winner Bill Whelan on a piece of music "Educo", written for guitar, piano, and string quartet. Shane appeared as the guitarist in the ensemble, alongside pianist Máire Carroll and Crash Ensemble. “Educo” was premièred at the former Irish House of Lords on College Green in Dublin City.
To quote Marty Whelan of RTÉ Radio (Ireland): “There was part of me that didn't really believe that he could do what he does on one guitar until he came into the studio, sat down in front of me, and played. I thought there had to be loops, or extra tracks, or recording tricks, and there was none of that - my jaw dropped! What a talent!”
Shane has preferred Maton Guitars for years on stage. “The reason I choose to play Matons on stage is because a Maton is the ultimate stage guitar. It’s versatile, it’s road-ready, it’s hardy, it’s easy to play, and it’s responsive. The pickup has the most amazing output, and it really captures all the frequencies you would want to hear from an acoustic guitar. I’m a one-man show, and so I need the guitar to sound as big as possible, and the Matons sound great in every system. I have owned a few different models, in different body shapes, and they’ve all sounded great on stage.”