Coming from Los Angeles, it's easy to take it for granted that great musicians are performing almost every night at some venue in town. While Missoula may not have the same quantity of shows as Los Angeles, it nevertheless still has the quality. Shawn Mullins and Chuck Cannon at the Top Hat Lounge was indeed one of those quality shows.
I have had the privilege of knowing Cannon for more than 10 years. Cannon is an A-list songwriter, with several #1 hits to his credit, including I Can Love You Like That, which was recorded by both John Michael Montgomery and All-4-One. In addition, he helped form Nashville Uunderground, a group of Nashville hit songwriters who wanted to perform their own material.
On the other hand, I had only previously met Mullins once before at the Durango Songwriters Expo in California. Mullins had a mega #1 hit with Lullaby, which oddly enough talks about one of the venues that I helped book in Los Angeles, Genghis Cohen.
Top Hat Lounge is the perfect place to enjoy a concert. Not only is there an incredible sound system and a spacious stage, but the food at the Top Hat is second to none. Owner Nick Checota has done a tremendous job of renovating this Missoula treasure. The staff was very helpful and the tapas menu was just right. Coupled with their extensive drink menu, it made the perfect backdrop for a great night of entertainment.
We arrived early, had dinner and drinks and caught up with Cannon before showtime. While the venue was relatively quiet during this time, it became increasingly busier the closer it got to showtime. By the time Cannon walked onto the stage, the floor was packed and every table was filled.
Cannon and Mullins are a perfect fit, and this show was the last one on their current tour. Cannon took the stage first, and did six of his songs solo, including Bet Your Momma Looked Good Too, Money Don't Matter No More, Your Boyfriend's in Your Bedroom, If I Were Jesus, Strange and Fox and the Henhouse, a cool song about what''s wrong with America, performed with Mullins and his bassist, Tom Ryan. They then finished out Cannon's set with The Whiskey Drinkin' Preacher.
Cannon then joined Mullins on a song they wrote together, Light You Up, before Mullins took over the stage for his own solo songs, which included California, Sunshine, Lonesome I Know You Too Well, Ghost of Johnny Cash, James McMutry's Where's Johnny?, Twin Rocks Oregon, Blue as You, Catoosa County, Beautiful Wreck, and Shimmer and Lullaby, before Cannon rejoined him to close the night with Cannon's Outta This Town.
It was a great night of music and a wonderful welcome to my new home. I think I'm gonna like it here.