Every so often I go to a concert not knowing what to expect, mostly because of my not having done my homework. Case in point: Shawn Mullins. Like most everybody else, I became aware of Shawn in the late nineties, when his breakthrough hit "Lullaby" was all over the radio. I liked the song, but for reasons unexplained, I never got deeper into his music. I guess I thought of him as just another musician who had a good song but not much else. Boy, was I wrong, and it took me more than a decade to find out.
In my eyes, anyone who's booked to play McCabe's gets an instant credibility bump. At only twenty bucks a ticket, seeing Shawn was not an expensive proposition, so I bought myself a ticket. While waiting in line to get in, I met Charlie and Marsha, a couple who flew in from Arizona just to see Shawn's concert. We had a nice long chat, but when asked about my favorite Shawn Mullins song, all I could do was mention "Lullaby", before pleading ignorance about everything else.
The show started with an opening set by Max Gomez, a friend and musical collaborator of the headliner. Typically I write about opening acts at the end of my blog entries, but for Max I'll make a rare, but well-deserved exception. His forty-five minute set was thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. He can sing, he can write and yes, he can play the guitar. Has a nice personality, too. I assume he wrote most of the songs, except of course for the set-opening "Key To The Highway", the classic blues number. My favorites were "Ball And Chain" and "Run From You", two songs that sound exceptionally good in a live setting. In a classy gesture of support, Shawn Mullins joined Max for the singing of "Never Say Never". Later in the show, Jeff Trott took the stage to provide mandolin accompaniment on one of Max's songs. After I got home, I googled Jeff and found some interesting things about him (http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jeff-trott-mn0000814242)
|Max Gomez at McCabe's|
I was truly taken by Shawn's soulful and relentlessly intense set. Most performers slow down a couple of times during their performance in order to rest their vocal cords, but not Shawn. Last night at McCabe's, he just went on and on, delivering one great song after another, with sweat running down his face and giving it all he had. Very impressive.
|Shawn Mullins at McCabe's|
|Shawn Mullins (right) and Davis Causey|
Here are some of the songs I liked the most: "Catoosa County", "California", "Cold Black Heart", "Ghost Of Johnny Cash", "Beautiful Wreck", "The House Of The Rising Sun", but then again, there were no weak songs last night at McCabe's.
|Davis' set list|
|Shawn's set list|
|Shawn Mullins thanking the crowd|
|Max Gomez poster (note the misspelled venue name)|
|Davis Causey gear|
|Max Gomez shaking hands with a fan|
|Max Gomez's set list|
|Coming straight from Arizona: fans Marsha and Charlie|
|Davis Causey & Tom Ryan (1st & 2nd from left) after the show|
|Poster in the window at McCabe's|