Shawn Mullins: Playing by his own rules 

Singer/songwriter at Eddie's Attic

Shawn Mullins can be heard daily on those ubiquitous DAVE-FM promo bumpers, his distinctive, raspy voice reminding listeners that the station adheres to the rock-without-rules format. And now that he's free of the megalabel constraints and pressures, the laid-back singer/songwriter can finally breathe easy and rock his own rules.

His latest album, 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor, was a fine snapshot of a singer/songwriter in a comfortable place. He'll be celebrating a birthday on Thursday, March 8, during his upcoming two-night stand at Eddie's Attic. Preparing to turn 39, the Atlanta-born performer admits his priorities have shifted a bit as he takes a hard look at 40. In his two-decade career, he's had a massive hit ("Lullaby"), a near-miss (the Thorns, his supergroup-trio with Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge), TV appearances and a movie role.

"But there's stuff that is more important than all of that," he says now. "We're in a home we love, surrounded by trees and parks and great neighbors. We're thinkin' about starting a family soon, within the next year. I'm kinda gettin' to that age where I see little babies and my eyes just fixate on them," he laughs. "It's a weird thing, I know. I love little babies now."

He can afford to settle down a bit, because his current label (modest-but-respected folk haven Vanguard) has been diligently working his current release for a solid year, econo-style. "If [Vanguard] makes a video for me, it costs 10 grand, not 300 grand, like with Sony. But I like that. Financially, I still have to work hard to be where I want to be," he says. "But that's cool, I like labor."

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