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Cardiff Character: Joseph Shannon

New open-mic performer believes it’s possible to be a singer with a stutter

A modern-day, English version of Johnny Cash stood on the stage. “Hello folks,” his deep voice carried, “Tonight, I’m playing my favourite song for you.” An intricate rendition of “Mr Brightside’s” intro fills the bar, as Joseph Shannon twists his long fingers around his six string.

Joseph Shannon loves performing at open-mic nights across Cardiff which is the perfect low-key city for budding artists like himself.

Joseph frequently plays across Cardiff at Face 11, Gassy Jacks, and Live Lounge. He feels an emotional connection with his music as it comes so naturally to him. He added that Cardiff’s open-mic audiences are great for boosting self-confidence, and urged others with speech impediments to make the most of the open mic nights.

Cardiff is the perfect city to live, said Joseph. The Birmingham born musician said the quirky venues are small, niche, and not too “poncey” – perfect for what he calls his diverse and inspiring music. Porter’s Bar is one of his favorites, as the crowds are always supportive.

Joseph said his siblings are professional musicians and were also an inspiration

The Journey
Joseph now urges similar musicians to take to the stage and forget all previous obstacles. Confidence is key, he says, and bad experiences shouldn’t affect your musical success.

“I was concerned at the start that I’d never overcome the stutter.”

Performing wasn’t at all easy for Joseph as he suffered from a mild stutter from an early age. He was determined to perform and follow his hero Brandon Flowers, The Killers’ lead singer though. He underwent speech therapy and it only took a year for this bassist to perfect the art of smooth-talking.

“I was concerned at the start,” Joseph said, adding that beginning therapy was a scary concept. He said the patience of his local therapist helped boost his confidence. Learning to speak slower and with less intensity helped greatly.

As a 20 year-old ancient history student,  Joseph said performing is a release from the monotony of academic life. His cheerful honesty about his course is striking – as is his honesty about practicing. He said, “Procrastinating is my worst habit. I’m actually meant to be at a rehearsal now.” Seven years, however, of playing and singing daily is reflected in his relaxed on-stage persona.

His skills come from watching YouTube tutorials, asking local musicians, and self-teaching

Brandon Flowers is his inspiration as his new-wave, alternative style of rock is what Joseph feels most comfortable singing, he said. “He’s the only man I truly admire!” he added.

“I’m Casanova!”
Despite many hobbies – debating, politics and Italian wine – Joseph still finds time for romance.“I’ve been asked out three times this week,” he said, unconsciously flicking his hair from his eyes. His idea of a perfect date is a quiet, romantic dinner for two.

His lean physique doesn’t come from a sport obsession though. “I appreciate intelligence over exercise,” said the history fanatic. Eating clean, vegetarian food is important to Joe, who raved about his homemade vegetarian Bolognese. He said he doesn’t see the need to eat meat, and believes he’s living proof that you can live healthily without it.

Although un-phased while singing to a pub full of people, he’s petrified of hornets, “They’re almost invincible insects, like flying tanks.” Witty humour, however, is his forte. He describes himself as calm and humorous, adding how nothing makes him smile more than a sarcastic pun.

Therapy also calmed his nerves. He smiled, “Now I can sing the songs I love, and let my audience enjoy those those well-loved songs.”

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