CLARKS SUMMIT — Shane Ely, 19, has loved music practically his whole life, but it wasn’t until age 16 that he picked up a guitar and started making his own. It was after his first concert, a Bruce Springsteen show, that he said he decided, “there’s got to be more to music than just listening to it.”
So, the Moscow resident asked his father to teach him a few chords, and he hasn’t stopped strumming since.
“My main focus became music,” he said. “School wasn’t that important to me…I just went to leave. From there on, it just kept growing and building.”
Now, he said he plays four or five hours a day, sometimes six. About a year and a half ago he started writing his own songs.
Abington area musicians and fans may know him from the Open Mic Night stage at Duffy’s Coffee House, where he often performs. In addition to playing acoustic and electric guitar, he also sings and plays the harmonica.
He described the local music and arts scene as “under-rated,” saying, “The atmosphere around here is rich – it’s rich with talent, for sure.
“I’ve met so many people here (in Clarks Summit),” he said. “Amazing people. If Duffy’s wasn’t here when it came into my life, my music would be totally different.”
He explained the encouragement, constructive criticism and influences he gains at open mic are invaluable to him.
The young musician said when he first started out he found it easy to become discouraged, but the more he practiced, and the more he performed, the more confidence he built up.
Now, he can’t stop.
Referring back to his first live concert experience, he said it’s the live performance that captures him, both as a fan and musician.
“My favorite thing to do is perform,” he said. “I love to write and record and produce, but performing live is my favorite thing, because you get to interact with people and you get to see how your music hits them, and that’s the greatest thing – whether it’s criticism or not – because you get to see what music can really do to people.”
He hasn’t yet recorded any of his own music, but said he hopes to in the future.
Ely’s musical style is a blues-rock mix, one of his biggest influences being Dan Auerbach, from The Black Keys.
“In his (Auerbach’s) music, he’s got soul, blues and rock. …It’s sometimes psychedelic. It’s changed the way I see the music, and especially my music. It’s changed the way I play music, because with every influence you get, your style changes. I will not be the same musician I am today tomorrow because of the people I listen to.”
Since coming to open mic, he said he’s become “more open” to different types of music. It also helps him get more comfortable with an audience.
“The one thing that Duffy’s really taught me is that…music is the one art form that every single person in this world loves,” said Ely.
His advice to other young musicians just starting out is to “just go for it.”
“It’s like a hurdle,” he said. “The first time you leap it, you get addicted to performance.”