Exploring the world of Shem Sharples, his music, art and writing
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Shem is a singer-songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player, who has been working under his own name, Shem Sharples, since 2013. He had loads of songs from past projects, and started to revisit some of them, as well as constantly writing new ones, taking them out to open mics around Chester and Leeds, relentlessly tightening and honing his craft and live performances.
In late 2013, he teamed up with Thor Brown, who fills out the sound with energetic and inspired bass playing. The two of them have been working tirelessly on crafting arrangements to Shem’s ever-increasing song list. So far, they have a repertoire of over forty songs to choose from.
Back in 1984, Shem formed Rev Rev, a diy garage-psych band, releasing cassette albums and doing the odd gigs in Chester, Leeds and Liverpool. In 1995, they released a vinyl LP, called Spontaneous Combustion Engine, which became a hit with John Peel on BBC Radio 1. Rev Rev played their final gig in 2014.
Shem has spent much of his adult life battling with mental illness from the early 80’s. He moved to Leeds around 1987, where he joined in with the local music scene. He moved back to Chester fairly recently, emerging from 15 years spent in isolation. Now getting into his late 50’s, he is still growing as an artist and performer, going from strength to strength. A late bloomer.
And The Train Rattled Along is the first album as Shem Sharples, which was recorded in Shem’s own studio and released independently. Shem nearly always writes the lyrics first, nowadays, crafting them like poetry. The album is punchy with the inclusion of drums. To find a comparison, one person said, “something like Lou Reed and Dylan meet the Clash.” The album was released in September 2017.