The pandemic forced Megan Mullins to do something she hadn’t done since she was a toddler.
“I don’t think I have ever had such a big break from work in my life,” she said, in a phone interview with Whatzup. “From the time I was 3 years old, I was doing 100 to 200 shows a year with the Little Fiddlers.”
She moved from Columbia City to Nashville when she was 15 and the pace of her career hasn’t been slower than breakneck in the 19 years that have since elapsed.
From little fiddlers to side piece
Mullins will return to northeast Indiana with her band on Feb. 18 for a Nashville Thursdays concert at the Club Room.
There will be a special musical guest, she said.
In Nashville, people know Mullins as a singer and fiddle player who has performed and toured with Alabama, Big and Rich, the Jonas Brothers, Shania Twain, and Shakira.
In Indiana, she is known for all those things and another thing besides: She got her start as one of the Little Fiddlers, the duo that she formed with her brother Marcus when she was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” as they say in places where fiddle music is especially appreciated.
These days, Mullins is a member of an up-and-coming all-female country band called Side Piece.
“It sounds kind of cheeky,” she said, “We’re sidemen, but we’re side women. So Side Piece is more fun and less unwieldly than side women.”
The band members spent part of quarantine recording an album remotely. One advantage of enduring a pandemic in the 21st century is that you can record an album without ever being in the same room with the other musicians.
Look for an album soon
Depending on how closely you have followed Mullins’ career, you may be surprised to learn that she has not yet released a solo album.
Mullins was signed to Broken Bow Records for eight years and recorded three full-length albums for that label. Ultimately, there was a parting of ways and the music remains unreleased to this day.
This is far from an unusual turn of events in the music business.
But there is hope on the horizon for folks wanting to take some of Mullins’ music home with them.
She got to talking with her friend and colleague, Kimo Forrest, not long ago.
Forrest is in a band called Cash Creek and runs a label by that name.
“Whenever I do shows, people ask me, ‘Where can I buy your music?’” Mullins said. “Well, you can’t buy any of it. So I asked him, ‘I am thinking, because you have a studio and production company, would it be possible for you to make a short EP of songs that I’ve written, just so I have something to sell?’ And he said, ‘Oh, I have been wanting to record you for years.’”
Forrest pooh-poohed Mullins’ notion of doing something spare and stripped down (not to mention inexpensive).
“It’s gonna be right,” he told Mullins.
That CD/download should be available by the summer, she said.
Lest you assume that Mullins spent quarantine trying to pack as much music into her locked-down life as possible, it’s worth mentioning that Mullins also rediscovered several non-musical hobbies.
“My husband is still working,” she said, “so I threw myself wildly into cooking and gardening. And I got some baby chicks at the start of quarantine and got to really raise them. Now they are the most socialized chickens I have ever had.”
An alabama connection
Mullins’ husband is Tyler Owen. They were married two years ago last September. The story of how they got together is worth telling.
In 2016, Mullins performed at an engagement party for the eldest daughter of Alabama lead singer Randy Owen. Mullins has been accompanying Owen in various contexts for more than a dozen years.
“(Owen’s daughter asked), ‘Are you still single?’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah, but I’m not interested. I don’t have time.’ And she said, ‘You need to meet my cousin. He takes care of the farm here in Alabama. He’s a really great guy. He lives right up the road.’ And I said, ‘I do not need to meet your cousin. Put this on the list: I live in Nashville and I am a musician. He’s a farm boy in Alabama.”
Mullins stuck to her guns and returned home. Owen’s daughter sent Mullins a photo a week later.
“She said, ‘This is my cousin,’” Mullins recalled. “And I said, ‘Maybe I do need to meet this guy.’”
Here’s what she says about him today: “He’s just the most amazing human being I can imagine. He makes the world a better place just by breathing.”
The geographical barrier to full realization of their romance proved to be no barrier at all.
At a point where they were still doing the long-distance thing, Owen said to Mullins, “Well, you know, when I am up here in Nashville…”
“And I said, ‘So, you’re moving here?’” Mullins recalled. “He’s from Alabama so he has a drawl. He said, ‘Well, darlin’. I feel like you play music and that’s who you are and that’s what makes you happy. You’re supposed to be in Nashville for that. I’ll find something to do anywhere.’”
Now, Owen works as a ramp agent for Southwest Airlines.
And he’s musical. He plays guitar and banjo and sings, Mullins said. He just doesn’t like to do any of that stuff in front of anyone who isn’t family.
Not what she expected
Life is good for Mullins. It may look nothing like the life she thought she was making for herself in Nashville when she was 15, but it is a good life nonetheless.
“I am happy, I’m really grateful, and I really feel blessed,” she said. “I know there are people in this line of work who say, ‘If only this had happened…,’ ‘If only that had happened…’ My whole outlook on it is that I can’t believe that I am so lucky that I get to do what I love, and people pay me money for it.
“Things worked out however they were supposed to,” Mullins said. “I have played on every TV show imaginable. I have been to 39 countries… all for work. I have met some of the most amazing people. I can’t complain about a single minute. Everything I went through got me where I am today.”
Asked what advice she would give her 15-year-old self if such advice-giving were feasible, Mullins said, “Don’t let a room full of middle-aged men who are executives in charge of your career tell you who you are.”
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