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Sharkey and The Sparks ~ 2017 November 3 ~ Towne Crier Café ~ Beacon, NY

... by Joanne Corsano ...

Sharkey and The Sparks
Ben McEwen, Sharkey McEwen
Click on the picture
for a photo gallery of the concert

Sharkey McEwen, vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Ben McEwen, electric guitar

Set List

Love in a Coffee Shop {Landon Pigg} - Summer Breeze {Seals & Crofts} - Only One Angel {Jimmy Lafave} - Yahweh {U2} - Pipeline {The Ventures} - Space Oddity {Bowie} - The Wild One {Tom Petty} - Misirlou {Dick Dale} - Star Spangled Banner - Hold On - Gentle Lullaby - Happy Jam Jam - Ooh Child {The Five Stairsteps} ... encore ... I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) {The Proclaimers}

Scroll down past the video for review of the show.


The Wild One


Sharkey McEwen is a founding member and lead guitarist of the Slambovian Circus of Dreams. He has been taking a step back from that band this year for personal reasons and to pursue other interests. Ben McEwen is his 14 year old son, whose excellence on the guitar makes it hard to believe he has only been playing for three years. Ben has learned from his dad and also from watching Youtube videos. Sharkey and Ben have performed at a few of the Towne Crier's open mikes over the last few months, leading to tonight's debut show for the father-and-son band Sharkey and The Sparks.

The fourteen song set consisted primarily of covers of songs from the rock 'n' roll era, ranging from swinging surf instrumentals to modern day romantic ballads. Sharkey is an accomplished singer with quite a range, choosing in this 90-minute set to pay tribute to a number of his musical favorites. I thought his singing was especially delightful in the romantic ballads. The songs rocked the hardest when Ben was playing lead guitar.

Ben played an electric guitar throughout the show; Sharkey played a Yamaha acoustic on all but one or two songs. The five instrumentals were all crowd pleasers. Ben's playing was spectacular on the two surf guitar numbers (Ventures and Dick Dale covers), and he totally channeled the spirit of Jimi Hendrix on the "Star Spangled Banner" while Sharkey looked on from the audience. Audience members started calling him "Boy Shredder." The other instrumentals were Sharkey originals. One was a quiet song called "Gentle Lullaby" that he hesitated to play because of the level of noise in the room, but I'm glad he did because it was beautiful. The other was a bit of technopop titled "Happy Jam Jam."

That Sharkey could write a beautiful instrumental is no surprise, but we fans found out tonight that he can write a real song, an absolute killer song. It was called "Hold On" and it was a positive, uplifting message of affirmation to anyone doubting themselves. Sharkey described how he wrote the song. The guitar riff popped into his head, and it wouldn't let go. He said it followed him around like a little puppy that wanted to play. From that insistent, cheerful riff grew a song that bodes well for Sharkey's future as a solo artist. To say that "Hold On" was the highlight of the evening is no exaggeration.

While playing with the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, Sharkey has always been the tech guy. He's produced their albums and arranged the live shows so that everything sounds great. His interest in using technology to enhance a performance manifested in this show. The most obvious example was the use of an effects pedal that created harmony vocals. I don't think Sharkey needs to use this effect, but he didn't over-use it, and it certainly sounded nice to hear harmony on songs like Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze."

The audience included many fans of the Slambovians, and they were very enthusiastic. The amount of hooting and hollering between songs must have been gratifying for Sharkey and Ben. We fans learned a few things tonight: that Sharkey has what it takes to be a front man, that he can write songs, and that his son has a natural flair and a superb talent for the guitar. Ben is also a very stylish youth, as you can see from the pictures in the photo gallery, higher up on this page.

After a brief break at the end of the set, the two came back on stage for an encore of The Proclaimers' "500 Miles," which had the crowd clapping along and enthusiastically singing the call-and-response chorus. I'm not sure how many the Main Street Stage holds (this is the smaller stage at the Towne Crier) but it was packed. A couple of times Sharkey encouraged concert goers who were hanging back around the door to come in, and he directed them to a handful of vacant seats. In attendance were proud mom Isho, a couple of part-time Slambovians (pinch-hit drummer Rick and frequent bass player Bob), and to top it off, king Slambovian Joziah was there, lurking by the door trying not to be visible. (Didn't work.) After the show Joziah told me he thought "Hold On" (the Sharkey original) was the best song of the night.

Plans are for more of Sharkey and The Sparks, possibly with additional performers, in about six weeks. To anyone reading this, if you have doubts about this, go! This was a thoroughly entertaining ninety minutes of music from an established master of guitar who is taking the opportunity to show his versatility, accompanied by an up-and-coming guitar phenom whom you just have to see. For more on Sharkey and The Sparks, visit their website.

A big shout out to Phil Ciganer and the staff at the Towne Crier for making this possible, for providing a comfortable place for blossoming performers (of all ages) to share their music with the world.

More Sharkey

Here is a page with a handy list of links to all pages on this website with content relating to Sharkey McEwen and his band the Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

Click for 2017 Concert Page with links to all 2017 concerts ... Click for Main Concert Page with links to all years

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