I’m a big Shawn Mullins fan. I think I count five times that I’ve seen him live, the last time with some friends at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur. Actually, it was the release party for Light You Up, his most recent album. The performance was incredible. Eddie’s is such a great venue for Shawn. The set list was a nice mix of his new tunes with material from his previous albums. After the show, he met with fans, posed for photos, autographed CDs, etc. My wife and I got to meet him, and we talked with him quite a while. He’s such a tremendous talent, and I told him so. Great musician and storyteller. But not only that, he’s a really friendly and willing to talk. And he’s very knowledgeable about music, other artists, etc. I don’t remember everything we talked about. But I do remember telling him how great “Tannin’ Bed Song” is. 🙂 And I told him how much we love the Thorns album from a few years back (Shawn’s collaboration with Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge). He pointed out a couple of Thorns connections on the new album. He re-recorded one Thorn’s tune, “No Blue Sky,” for the new album. Slowed it down. He said he always thought it should be slower. And I do think it’s a great rendition. Plus, it turns out that Matthew contributed backing vocals to “California.” Great pairing of voices! We also talked briefly about drummer Jim Keltner who played on the Thorns project and all the talent he’s worked with over the years. Shawn was so friendly and gracious. It was surreal.
I’ve also seen Shawn a couple of times at the annual Moonlight and Music event at the Lawrenceville courthouse. And those shows are free! Shawn is a big draw. He sets up outside in the gazebo with a full band. The crowds are larger. The band is louder. Great to see him in an outdoor setting too. He rocks out!
In the Atlanta press, Shawn is often referred to as a local favorite, which is certainly true, but he’s had a lot of national exposure. He got his big break I guess in the 90s with “Lullabye.” That’s certainly the first time I heard him. Leslie Fram, program director for Atlanta’s 99X at the time was a big fan, and she promoted him heavily. The station was influential, and soon alternative rock stations nation-wide caught on. Shawn was signed to a record contract, and “Lullabye” wound up on Soul’s Core, along with “Tannin’ Bed Song” and a great cover of Kris Krisofferson’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.” Today you might hear Shawn on adult album alternative (AAA), Americana, or even the more adventurous country radio (Dave or Dave Roots in Atlanta). If there were any justice in the world, he would be filling stadiums. It’s all good though. I really enjoy catching him in these smaller and more intimate venues. And I think it better suits his style anyway. There’s no substitute for catching Shawn live, but check out the YouTube clips below to get an idea: