Shannon Mulvaney Benefit 7-8-2006 @ The EARL
Last Saturday, July 8, The EARL hosted a benefit show for Shannon Mulvaney, a mainstay of the Atlanta music scene. Mulvaney is a former member of Magnapop and other projects, current member of Anna Kramer's band and The Sweet Loves, co-owner of International Hits Records, and manager at Atlanta institution Criminal Records. Sadly, Mulvaney has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer and has been undergoing treatment as a result. In a show of support for Mulvaney, many acts from Atlanta's music scene came together for a benefit show and roast at The EARL.
The evening began with sets by Johnny Knox and Hi-Test, Lennys, The Liverhearts, and The Roy Owens Jr., all of which I missed because of the early start time. However, I wandered into the venue in time to catch most of a solid late evening set by rock act The Close. For me the evening really picked up when the Sweet Loves took the stage, followed by the reunion of shoegazers Seely, a spirited set by Anna Kramer, and a special set by The Pee-Pees -- who were in fact Atlanta post-punk favorites The Selmanaires playing a set of covers under a pseudonym.
The Sweet Loves at The EARL. Photo by Alex Adan.
The Sweet Loves are a quintet of familiar faces from the Atlanta music scene, including Mulvaney (bass), Adam Renshaw (drums; ex-Forty-Fives), and Brandon Smith (vocals). Unfortunately, Mulvaney has been unable to play with them so they have employed a guest bassist. Although they have been playing together only a short time, they put on an entertaining show. Their '70s-style rock is reminiscent of The Faces, with Smith's vocals not unlike those of Rod the Mod. They certainly put on a fun rock show, and have attracted a good deal of attention within Atlanta's rock community in a short time.
Seely on stage at The EARL. Photo by Alex Adan.
Following The Sweet Loves was the reunion of Seely, a once-successful local band who broke up years ago but reunited on this night to show their support for Mulvaney. There was a strong sense of curiosity about their set, both from old fans eager to see them reunite and others (myself included) who knew little about the band but wanted to see what the fuss was all about. I'd say that they certainly impressed this new fan -- their music was like nothing I've seen from the current local scene and was refreshing despite the age of the tunes performed. The band even joked that some of the songs were more than half as old as some in attendance.
Their sound was primarily rooted in the dream pop/shoegaze mold, but never lost my interest. The same can't be said of the too-chatty folks in the back of the room. Regardless, I was impresed and glad to catch the reunion show -- odds are it won't happen again.
Anna Kramer at The EARL. Photo by Alex Adan.
Seely was followed by Anna Kramer (vocals, guitar, organ), with whom Mulvaney typically plays bass while Adam Renshaw handles the drums. However, on this night it was only Kramer and Renshaw on stage. Kramer plowed through a short set of her unique country-rock, including a cover of Alice Cooper's "Long Way to Go" and Sam Cooke classic "Bring It On Home To Me" along her original tunes. At the end of her set Kramer was joined on stage by three of the four former members of A Fir-Ju Well, a favorite Atlanta band that played its own final show just a week prior on July 1. They played a roaring version of "He's Got the Power" by The Exciters (with Kramer on backup vocals) before exiting the stage.
Herb and Jason Harris of The Pee-Pees (The Selmanaires). Photo by Alex Adan.
Shannon Mulvaney during "Havah Nagilah." Photo by Alex Adan.
Whatever party atmosphere had been ramped up by their predecessors on the stage, headliners The Pee-Pees took it up a notch. As some had been aware before the show, The Pee-Pees were in fact Atlanta band The Selmanaires playing under the guise of a French disco band complete with costumes and a setlist of covers they'd never played at their own shows. Their opening tune left no doubt that they were taking on another identity for the evening; it's main reprise was the lyrical statement that "We used to be The Selmanaires/Now we're the Pee-Pees!" After that number they proceeded to cover songs by E.S.G. ("Moody"), The Rolling Stones ("Miss You"), Rod Stewart ("Do Ya Think I'm Sexy"), Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Agua de Baber"), and Pylon ("Danger").
While each of those were great fun, the highlight of the set may have been a sick version of the traditional "Havah Nagilah" with drummer Jason Harris on melodica while brother Herb took over the drum kit and bassist Tommy Chung manned the guitar. A great moment came during the song when Mulvaney was hoisted up on a chair and carried around the room. The Pee-Pees followed that up with a reprise of their opening "Pee-Pees Theme" before being shut down by the 2am curfew.
Overall, it was a spectacular night for a great cause. Although the occassion was prompted by an unfortunate circumstance, it was in the end a celebration of local musicians' love for Shannon Mulvaney and all he's done for music in the city. Here's hoping the next show is held to celebrate his recovery.
For more of Alex's pictures from the event, see his Flickr site.