Shawn Mullins w/ Toby Lightman - 6/14Wednesday, June 14 2017 6:00pm Doors / 8:00pm Start / Ends 10:00pm (Estimated End Time)
- Bar Stool
at City Winery New York City
Our VIP seats offer the best option for couples and pairs to enjoy a bit more space than other sections and are located in an elevated section behind the House Left Premier (floor) section. This section features low, four-seat tables and eight seat high tops with barstool seating.
Our Premier section offers tables of four, six and eight seat banquets on the main floor with a full view of the stage
Singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins readily admits that several of the songs on his new album, My Stupid Heart, address his perceived relationship failures. In fact, many were written as he was falling out of his third marriage; in the title tune, he actually chides himself for being such a romantic. But it’s also a bit of a joke, he says, because he firmly believes in following his heart — no matter where it leads.
That oh-so-fallible, yet essential part of our being is the guiding force behind just about every song on the album — the theme of which is summed up most succinctly by another song title: “It All Comes Down to Love.”
In that respect, Mullins says, it’s not all that different from most of his discography. But in the years since his last release, 2010’s Light You Up, Mullins has experienced more ups and downs on his romantic roller-coaster — a ride he’s decided to step off for a while. He’s also stayed busy co-parenting his son, Murphy, with his second wife.
Still, nothing inspires songwriters quite like a breakup, and Mullins confirms, “This record came out of all that; all the feelings, all the heartache.”
He remembers sitting on his porch one afternoon, thinking, “‘I know this is all in my head, but it’d be a lot easier just to blame it on my heart.’ And then I thought, ‘Yeah, it’s my stupid heart.’” Next thing he knew, lines like “my stupid heart it plays for keeps/through hoops of fire it bounds and leaps” just started tumbling out. In the studio, the song took on a classic vibe, with impeccable instrumentation and production that sounds as if George Martin supervised.
Throughout the album, Mullins deftly balances songs of suffering — from the title tune and “Go and Fall,” to the powerful, yet subtle social commentary of “Ferguson”— with songs such as “Roll on By,” co-written with Max Gomez, which strikes an upbeat note of hope.
There’s humor, too; “It all Comes Down to Love” targets TV preachers, politicians, the NRA, Wall Street and street dealers, and “Pre- Apocalyptic Blues” hilariously lampoons the doom-mongers arming themselves against Armageddon. But the Levon Helm-influenced “Never Gonna Let Her Go” reveals the thrills of riding that roller-coaster and even the sigh of resignation that is “The Great Unknown” contains lines so striking you can’t help but smile at their brilliance and depth.
Whether composing alone or with others — including Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge, his bandmates in the early-2000s trio the Thorns — Mullins has always been a dynamic songsmith. Forging influences from folk and R&B to traditional country and even Broadway musicals, like Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, with pop-leaning melodic sensibilities, he crafts memorable, affecting tunes best defined as Americana.
Mullins’ maternal grandfather was a big-band bass player who also played Dixieland jazz and polka; his paternal grandfather, a railroad man, loved listening to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. When Mullins was in the womb his mom serenaded him with “House of the Rising Sun” and “Ode to Billie Joe,” accompanying herself on ukulele. (To this day, he has a thing for Bobbie Gentry.) His dad’s record and reel-to-reel collection ranged from Kris Kristofferson and Leonard Cohen to Little Richard, Ray Charles and Isaac Hayes, plus plenty of rock ‘n’ roll. It all made an impact.
When Chuck Cannon heard “Lullaby” on a Nashville station, he actually did a U-turn and beelined toward a record store. Cannon, who co-wrote John Michael Montgomery’s Academy of Country Music Song of the Year, “I Love the Way You Love Me,” and several hits for Toby Keith, among other country stars, loved Mullins’ work. But when Mullins heard Cannon was slated to open for him at a Nashville club, he thought the pairing was a total mismatch. Until Cannon played.
“Chuck’s got a lot more edge than a lot of other Nashville songwriters, and a lot more rock ‘n’ roll and R&B,” Mullins says. “There’s a lot more sex in his writing, there’s a lot more devil and God, and he just brings some real basic elements of the human existence more into the forefront. A lot of people don’t have the guts to do it, and I love that about him.”
Cannon wrote “It all Comes Down to Love,” the album’s only cover. It was his attempt to write in Mullins’ style —16 years ago, after he’d heard “Lullaby.” He’d also engineered that opening slot so he could meet Mullins — who didn’t know any of the song’s backstory till he asked about using it for the album. Once he heard it, he was even more determined to include it.
“I usually do one song per record I didn’t write; just a song I like a lot that someone else wrote,” Mullins says. “It motivates me to write more, because it’s something that I wish I’d written.”
In addition to his collaborations for this album, Mullins spent some of his time since Light You Up writing with other Nashville hitmakers; he also contributed to the striking 2012 album, Mercyland: Songs for the Rest of Us. But he admits he’s eager to hit the road again.
“I’m in a new place in my life, a place of freedom, artistically — and a real grounded place of bein’ a dad,” he says. “I’m really excited about the possibilities.”
Though he may be wearing a little more emotional armor this time, he’s also armed with new insights, so many of which are relayed in these songs. And when he steps onstage each night, he sings them with all the passion he’s got in his anything-but-stupid heart.
In a world of auto-tune, Toby Lightman's pure and soulful voice cuts through the noise. She "..oozes spirituality, if not outright womanly sensuality...” -BILLBOARD From her major label debut in 2004 to her current independent spirit, Toby has mastered her own sophisticated urban pop. With each song, recording or collaboration, Toby continues to hone, craft and perfect her unique sound.
She studied classical violin as a child, but it wasn't until college that Toby considered a career in music. While studying Television and Radio at the University of Wisconsin, Toby took up the guitar, started playing in various bands and never looked back. She moved to New York where her expressive voice quickly gained her supporters, from legendary music artist Wyclef Jean to accomplished producer Peter Zizzo, to music executive Jason Flom. In 2003, "Devils and Angels" the first single from her debut album Little Things (Lava/Atlantic) immediately made noise at radio and a career was born.
Toby went on to record Bird On A Wire, a second album for Atlantic Records, before breaking away from the politics and constraints of corporate record companies and launching her independent record career with her self-released album Let Go in 2008. The title track was picked up by Home Shopping Network for use in the network's marketing campaign, with promos featuring the song airing on dozens of television channels for six months, letting Lightman know it would all be okay. " Being an independent artist in today’s music business can be a scary and daunting thing" says Toby, "but getting constant positive feedback that people are into what you're doing inspires you and keeps you going. I've been lucky to get that feedback."
Over the course of her career, which includes four albums, an EP and numerous individual tracks, Lightman has performed on a large number of national TV shows including the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, NBC’s Today Show, CBS’ Second Cup and many more. She has also toured extensively, both solo and sharing the bill with renowned artists such as Rob Thomas, Jewel, James Blunt, Gavin DeGraw, Train, Marc Cohn, and one “I could quit tomorrow” evening opening for the legendary Prince, an artist that Toby grew up idolizing. Prince happened to be watching the night Toby appeared on Conan and was so taken with her performance he invited her to open for him.
As an independent artist, Toby Lightman has enjoyed tremendous success with the placement of her music in film and TV. So much so that her longtime co-writer and friend Simon Perry (Echo and the Bunnymen), has dubbed Toby the "queen of TV and film." Some of her songs used in television and films include “Everyday” on Fox’s Bones, “Holding a Heart” in numerous shows such as WB’s One Tree Hill, Vampire Diaries, 90210 as well as the feature film What’s Your Number? Her winter evoking “Snow Day” was the soundtrack to a KMart commercial. “Addicted” was used in the promos for ABC’s Desperate Housewives series finale as well as the trailer for the movie Playing For Keeps. Amazingly, eight of Toby's songs were highlighted in a single episode of the ABC Family series The Fosters. Most recently, Toby and her song “We Are” are featured in the demo for the new Microsoft BING software!
People Magazine has stated that “No small talent... Toby Lightman continues to shine a light on her knack for making rich, soulful pop”.