A Cosy Sheridan retrospective at Godfrey Daniels
Cosy Sheridan first made her mark on the folk scene in 1992 when she won songwriting contests at The Kerrville Folk Festival and Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
Sheridan’s 1992 CD, “Quietly Led” (Waterbug Records) received critical acclaim. From then on Sheridan continued to create a steady stream of insightful, well-crafted albums, culminating in 2014’s “Pretty Bird” and 2016’s “Sometimes I Feel Too Much.” West Side Folk dubbed her “one of the era’s finest and most thoughtful songwriters.”
Sheridan performs at 8 p.m. April 22, Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem.
The singer-songwriter-guitarist was born and raised in New Hampshire. As an adult, she lived in southern Utah for 20 years. Sheridan moved back to the Boston area after meeting her husband, Charlie Koch, a musician and bass player who enhances Sheridan’s songs with strong rhythms and harmonies.
In an interview from her home in Boston, Sheridan speaks of the tour which takes her from Denver to New York to Bethlehem, noting that she last performed at Godfrey Daniel’s eight years ago. “It’s a venerable folk club,” Sheridan says.
In her 25-year career, she has played small coffeehouses as well a full house at Carnegie Hall. On her 2016 CD, Sheridan writes of her years on the road in the song, “Woody Guthrie Watch Over Me.” She plans to perform recent songs as well as her earlier works at Godfrey’s. “I will be playing probably half and half,” says Sheridan. “It will [cover] a wide area of time through the Cosy Sheridan retrospective.”
Since the release of her first album, Sheridan says she’s changed a lot. “I was 28 at the time. That first one was definitely done by a young woman, with a lot of love songs, a lot of things about relationships.”
She refers to her earlier music as “inarticulate emotion.
“If I pick up my guitar long enough I will find words to what I’m feeling.”
Her songwriting expanded into topics Sheridan wrote from the viewpoint of a person in her 30s and 40s. “Every few years I put out another CD and it tends to have a very different flavor to it.”
In 2004, Sheridan went back to school. She created “Pomegranate Seed,” written as a final project for an undergraduate degree in psychology. The entertaining, one-woman show of song and dialogue explores women’s body-image issues, eating disorders and society’s standard of beauty.
“Then I had the end of a very long relationship in 2011, so the 2012 CD was what people call your ‘divorce CD.’ My CDs are all very different,” says Sheridan.
Known for a range of clever themes in her songs, from humorous to heartfelt to socially-conscious, Sheridan says she gleans inspiration in two ways.
“It’s either [a subject] I have been interested in, so I’ve gone looking for the information, such as a song about Hannibal crossing the Alps in 200 B.C.
“Or it is something that’s moving me, for instance ‘Fences.’” Sheridan’s song, “Fences,” was inspired by her feelings after the recent election.
Sheridan, who’s played guitar since the age of nine, speaks of the cyclical nature of folk music’s popularity, “I think we’re on a cusp right now where it’s going to go one way or another. Protest music could make quite a comeback.
“I do know that the younger generation is very interested in folk music in terms of the bluegrass and string band part.”
Songwriting popularity ebbs and flows, says Sheridan. Every 20 years or so, solo songwriters are all the rage, then bands become popular again, and so on.
“Folk music, in some form, has always been of interest to a certain segment of the population. I’m kind of curious myself to watch and see who’s going to talk about what they think is going on in the world onstage these days and who’s avoiding it.”
In addition to touring and songwriting, Sheridan teaches at workshops and music camps across the United States. In 2008, Sheridan founded the Moab Folk Camp, in Moab, Ut. The camp offers an encouraging environment where attendees can learn and experience the joy of making music. Instructors teach songwriting, guitar, banjo, ukulele and mandolin.
“It happens every fall, right before the Moab Folk Festival, in the Red Rock country of Utah, which is a beautiful place to be in the fall.”
She also teaches at camps in New Hampshire, Colorado, Washington and California.
Sheridan is thrilled that her first-ever YouTube video has gotten more than 12,000 views. “I really had this tremendous sense of, ‘Oh yay!’
“If you tell a story that people need to hear, or want to hear, it travels.”
Tickets: godfreydaniels.org, 610-867-2390