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Richmond Times-Dispatch – 3/30/2006

What's up? Elvis has entered the building–in spirit, anyway. To everyone's knowledge, there are no time machines hidden away at Acapella, but when Wrenn Mangum performed there recently, the bar took a journey back to the 1950s.

Slicked-back hair. A rockabilly-inspired buttoned-up collared shirt. Swinging hips that would have kept him off the early days of "The Ed Sullivan Show." With all the elements of a rocker from the decade of a budding rock'n' roll culture, Mangum strapped on his guitar, stepped up to an old school microphone and performed classics that most cherish.

Music from this decade has always been fascinating, Mangum said. When he is performing, capturing the essence of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and the like is on the top of his to-do list, next to making sure everyone has a blast.

"I really love and key in on that era," he said, "that '55 to '59 era, the cars, the dress, everything. I just love that music. I try to play it like I hear it in my head."

That classic music is the main reason folks come watch Mangum perform, but he throws in a little something extra to spice up the evening. He adds comedy bits between songs. And expect a smile as soon as you walk in the room. Mangum is a friendly man with a passion for music and, especially, rock'n' roll. Hey, maybe he does, after all, belong in the 1950s.

What has your experience playing in Richmond been like?

"The club owners have been so awesome to me," Mangum said. "I haven't had any bad experiences. Richmond is such a music city. I don't think it gets the national attention it deserves. There are a lot of rockabilly people in Richmond and there have been awesome bands, like Chrome Daddy Disco, in town over the years."

What drives you to celebrate and reproduce music from the 1950s?

"To me, it's the feeling," Mangum said. "Not only is it really fun to sing those songs because of the melody structure and the rhythm, it's also fun to capture a time and a place that I think was less complicated. It became a market music, but at first artists like Buddy Holly didn't know what they were doing. They were just having fun and wanting to play music that was cool"

Article written by Angie Castlebury for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2006

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