Master guitarist, composer, and environmental advocate John Sheldon’s music has been described as a combination of Tom Waits’ writing, Carlos Santana’s guitar playing, and Bob Weir’s singing. Jimmy Hendrix and James Taylor praised him, and National Public Radio called him “one of the great guitarists of our time.”
John began working professionally at age 14 and was Van Morrison’s lead guitarist at 17 (during the “Brown Eyed Girl” era). He has written hundreds of songs, including “September Grass” and “Bittersweet” from two platinum James Taylor albums. He was a founding member of the 1960s psychedelic jazz rock band The Bead Game, with drummer Jim Hodder of Steely Dan, and toured with Linda Ronstadt.
Along with performing solo for decades, John has also fronted his own band, Blue Streak, and has collaborated with many other musicians and theater artists. John co-founded a musical and spoken word collaboration, “Do It Now,” with percussionist Tony Vacca and beat poet laureate Paul Richmond. He has performed with internationally acclaimed Senegalese talking drum master Massamba Diop and Annie Guthrie, daughter of Arlo Guthrie.
John has also composed for films such as “Power Struggle,” a documentary that chronicles a successful citizen’ effort to shut down an aging nuclear power plant in Vermont. He has written songs in support of wildlife rights, including a memorial for the famous Yellowstone alpha female who was shot and killed in 2012, an instrumental dedicated to the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf, and “Cricket Scribe,” celebrating the exquisite diversity and inherent intelligence of Amazonian primary rainforest. “Earth Blues” mourns the systematic abuse of our planet.
Life-altering ayahuasca experiences in the Peruvian Amazon gave John a new heartfelt focus for his life’s work, writing songs that tell stories that serve and protect the earth. “I used to think I was playing music to get somewhere, but it turned out it was really a journey of healing myself,” he says. “I now commit every note I play and every story I tell as a prayer and dedication to this beautiful, sentient planet we live on.”
Ayahuasca also inspired his one-man autobiographical ode to the spirit of the Stratocaster, “The Red Guitar,” which he presented at Scotland’s famed Edinburgh Fringe music festival. The Edinburgh Herald described his sold-out performances as “brilliantly observed, beautifully told!”
After his ayahuasca experiences, John has reunited with cannabis, which has become one of his master plants, inspiring fantastical, trance-inducing soundscapes for ceremony and meditation.
John has been featured in National Public Radio, The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, The Boston Phoenix, Huffington Post, Bhodi Tree, LA Yoga, Music Museum of New England, James Taylor Online, The Valley Advocate, New Music Express, Conscious Living TV, Reality Sandwich, The Gazette, The Recorder and Scotland’s The Herald, The Scotsman, and many more.