This past weekend, I had the privilege of sitting down with the very talented Shaun Hopper at the Fairfield Community Arts Center in Fairfield, Ohio. Hopper is a percussive fingerstyle guitar player whose deeply sewn southern Georgia roots lends to his unique style and laid back presentation. Shaun has been on the road, performing most recently at the Midland Theatre in Newark, Ohio, where he brought down the house with two very successful sold out shows. The wake of his success followed him to Fairfield, Ohio, where he sold out the Fairfield Community Arts Center, an intimate and welcoming venue that boasts a clean, modern facade.
Shaun and I chatted at length about his recent performances, traveling, and keeping a healthy balance with life when off the stage. Hopper is not only articulate but also warm and unassuming in his presence. Over tea, we discussed aromatherapy and meditation, both of which serve as a means to destress before and after performances. For Shaun, it creates a balance to the euphoria that an enthusiastic crowd provides. For me, it creates a sixty-dollar mess of tealeaves on my kitchen counter that I can’t seem to brew half as well.
Shaun’s simple approach to living follows him to the stage. His stage setup and presence is just as humble as his conversational style. Against a backdrop of bare light bulbs and a single placed chair on an oriental rug, he greeted the Fairfield audience with genuine gratitude. He explained what to expect with percussive fingerstyle guitar playing and how he has developed his technique. He went on to add that one doesn’t master fingerstyle playing overnight, having dedicated much time to the trade. Shaun is a one-man show, performing with his acoustic electric guitar and framework guitar. His performance included stylized covers of songs such as Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” as well as several of Shaun’s original works. Shaun’s passion can be heard in his songwriting, channeling the aura of the American Southwest and the enchantment of Ireland in his uniquely different works. His percussive elements combined with his finesse on the strings forces the audience to become absorbed in his art. Hopper is anything but a pretentious performer and he fluidly moves between his music and his spoken personal accounts. Shaun made the comment that he “didn’t know when to stop playing”, which is evident through his interaction with the crowd and his delivery of professionalism. During his performance, he was asked who had signed his guitar, which he fondly answered. Naturally, each signature, one of them being that of Joan Baez, had an equally charming story that accompanied. One of Shaun’s musical influences is Chet Atkins and he holds Leonard Cohen’s lyricism in high esteem. Shaun has toured alongside Tim Reynolds, of The Dave Matthews Band; and he pays respects to BB King in his shared recollections.
At the conclusion of his performance on March 5, Shaun didn’t hesitate to enter the main atrium of the Community Arts Center to meet and greet concertgoers who attended. His kind gesture was surely welcomed by all who supported him that evening. It would be an understatement for me to say Hopper is accomplished. Shaun possesses talent, vision and heart that well exceeds his years. He will be performing next in St. Cloud, Minnesota, on March 18. Please take a moment to connect with Shaun and his music via Shaun Hopper or, on Facebook and Twitter
All Photo credits: Amanda Knight
Writer: Amanda Knight