Shawn James Rocks the Studio in Deep Ellum

Shawn James performing in Dallas. Photo by Craig Youngblood.

It was another typical Wednesday night in Dallas, Texas, as the fans began getting to the Studio at the Factory in Deep Ellum. As I approached the venue, you could see the fans walking in from every direction, trying to get in quickly so they could get good spots for the show. Upon entering the venue, the merch booth was set up so you could see all the fantastic merchandise they had brought for this new tour. Making your way through the venue, you were weaving in and out of the fans, trying to get to an excellent spot to take in all the magic about to be happening on the stage where opener Troy Baker and Headliner Shawn James would be playing soon. Many of the fans were already in their places on the rail in front of the stage.

As the time got closer to Troy Baker to kick things off, more fans were coming in and making their way to the front and sides to get the best viewpoint of the performers. The lights go out as the time draws near to get the show started. The house lights dim as a tall figure in a suit and flat-brimmed cowboy hat walks out and sits on his chair at the front of the stage. Troy Baker begins strumming his acoustic guitar and singing for the fans, and they all applaud and cheer. The incredible singing is not all that Troy Baker does; he is also a phenomenal voice actor with many projects under his belt. The crowd loves every song and notes that Troy is playing them to prepare them for the rest of the night. He continues playing through his set, and the crowd loves every minute of his performance, cheering him and applauding as he wraps up his final song of the night. As he walks off, the crew comes out and starts setting up the stage for Shawn and the band to come on next.

Now, the time has come that we have all been waiting on. Shawn James was about to take the stage, and you could feel the anticipation as the house music was playing and slowly fading out. As the music fades, the band starts taking the stage, beginning with Drummer Rob Kennedy and bass player Zack Shafer leading the pack. Right behind them is the phenomenal fiddle/violin player Sage Cornelius, and last but not least, the incredible Shawn James walks out. As the guys take their place on the stage, Shawn sits down at the keyboard and begins playing the opening note to Love Will Find a Way, and the crowd erupts with applause and cheers. Shawn’s band has such a powerful and soulful sound, and this song showed so much range and had everyone’s attention as they sang and swayed as they performed. As they finished the opening song, Shawn stood up and grabbed his acoustic guitar and got it ready as the bass player played the stand-up bass and kicked them off into The Stones Cried Out, and the fans all yelled out with cheers.

Shawn approached the microphone and began singing the lyrics as the band joined. As the song came to the final notes, Shawn asked the crowd how they were feeling, and they all cheered and said they were feeling great. He told them how good it felt to be back in Dallas and that he had been looking forward to this stop on the tour. He also said he was glad we all came out on a Wednesday, and the crowd cheered him on again. He spoke a little more to them and then began playing the opening to one of my favorite songs, Burn the Witch, and the fans erupted with applause as the band joined in with whistles and screams throughout the Studio. They jumped straight into the Curse of the Fold, and in this song, you got to witness how great of a band he has with Sage tearing it up on one side and (bass) thumping on the stand-up bass, and his drummer raining down the thunderous hits on his kit. After another song, he told the story of the next song many people think he wrote, but he said I did not. He said that one of his best friends, who had been in the Army since he was 18, had seen some of the worst things in the world that no one should have to see and experience. He told the story of how his friend Baker (Gravedancer) wrote it on a base waiting to go home, and he dedicated it to him and any veteran in attendance tonight. He said if you know the words, sing along, and he began singing, Eating Like Kings, and the fans knew the words and were singing along with him. After one other song, he stopped and told the crowd that he had an announcement to make. He began telling everyone that they had a new album coming out in November, and it was a concept album. Shawn told them it was a concept album about the old West and asked if they were ready to hear some new music, and the fans all yelled a resounding yes. He said Well, alright, we will play you a few new ones back-to-back-to-back. This first one is called Six Shells, and they kicked off into it, and everyone listened intently as they played and sang the new song. As the song concluded, he said here is the next one, and I like this one so much I named the whole damn tour after it, and it is called I Want More. When this song was over, he introduced the next one and began talking about how it has to do with death and how maybe we shouldn’t fear it, and we could possibly embrace it like a friend.

As he finished talking, they jumped off into this song, Muerte mi amor, and they began flawlessly playing it on the last chorus he sang in Spanish. As they wrapped up this new song, he talked about it being used on The Last of Us video game and began singing The Guardian (Ellie’s Song), and the fans were whistling and cheering as they performed. As they finished this last couple of songs, Shawn asked the fans if they wanted Troy Baker to come and do one with him, and they all yelled excitedly. Troy joined Shawn on the stage, and they began singing another incredible song, Through the Valley, with both of them showing their stunning vocal ranges. After this, he got the band back up and told the fans it was time to turn it up and notch and get a little louder and rowdier as he put his acoustic guitar on the rack and grabbed his electric guitar. Once the band jumped back onto the stage, they went into another of his incredible tracks, The Wanderer, and the fans were excited to hear it. These guys kept getting louder and rowdier as they finished their set for the evening and closed it all out with another great hit, Haunted, a huge fan favorite, and you could tell as they were all singing along.

I am so happy that I could experience and cover another Shawn James concert, as they are always so much fun and a great listening experience. I will continue to go to his shows as long as he is touring, and they are always different shows, so you could always enjoy going and watching these guys play live. We also learned that Shawn’s new drummer is from Ireland, and this is his first-ever US tour. He did a phenomenal job here tonight. If you have never seen a live Shawn James show, I highly recommend you check one out; you will not be disappointed. I am already looking forward to seeing all these guys returning to town for another tour.

Words and Photos by Craig Youngblood

Shawn James Setlist:

Love Will Find a Way

The Stones Cried Out

Burn The Witch

The Curse of the Fold


Eating Like Kings

Thief and the Moon

Six Shells

I Want More

Muerte Mi Amor

The Guardian (Ellie’s Song)


Through the Valley

The Wanderer

The Shadow

No Blood from a Stone


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