Sunday’s Offerings

March 31, 2008

My daughter introduced me to Shawn Mullins with his 1998 release Soul’s Core. Shortly after, the song Lullaby became a hit. I lost track of him again until The Thorns in 2003 with Shawn Mullins, Matthew Sweet, and Peter Droge. I bought it, but it didn’t knock my socks off. What really made me a Shawn Mullins fan was 9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor, recorded in pre-Katrina New Orleans in 2006. His newest release, Honeydew is equally as good.

I found this show a few nights before our trip while I was fiddling around on-line, visiting venues we had been to on previous trips. Pleased as punch, I tromped downstairs to announce to Willi that I found a show for us on Sunday night. He was unimpressed. So, I tromped back upstairs and bought the tickets anyway. At $10.00 a pop, if he didn’t come around we weren’t out too awfully much. As it turns out, it was money well spent. And Willi agreed.

Opening the show was Jennifer Daniels. We had not heard of her prior to this, but we enjoyed both her music and the banter between the songs. She introduced us to her rasta dog named Bob Marley, and joked about the six guys in the next band and their primping prior to the show, saying they all had different hair and she wondered if they all used the same “product”. With the exception of one angst ridden song, I would give her another try.

Next in the line-up was Ben Cyllus, also someone I had not heard of, but he is reported to be an up and comer. The show was broadcast live beginning with his act. His bandmates had traveled from their hometown of Detroit for the show. He has an interesting sound I found to be similar to Ryan Adams. I would give him another try also. I think we will be hearing more from him.

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Shawn Mullins’ set was solo. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. He sang many songs from his newest release, interspersed with those the crowd remembered well. His voice was powerful and clear. He provided musical commentary for the working class. We both felt he had moved well into the classic folksinger genre, ala Woody Guthrie.

Although All in My Head is the song we are hearing on the radio, the one that caught my attention from the new CD was The Ballad of Kathryn Johnston, a 92 year old black woman from Atlanta who was shot to death as police broke down her door in a suspected drug raid.

When the live broadcast came to an end, the announcer broke into the flow of the show for the closing. As he left the stage, Mullins replied with a light hearted “How Rude”, and settled in for another several songs, much to the delight of the audience. And again, I wonder if this will be the highlight of our trip south. It could be.

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For a taste of Shawn Mullins, here’s a clip of “Cold Black Heart” from the Pickin’ Parlor CD.

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