It was the mulchiest of times, it was the sweatiest of times. But now the time has come to shed a tear and bid farewell to Mulch, Sweat, and Shears. After just over 11 years of rocking guests faces off as Walt Disney World’s best (and only) landscaping-themed cover band, the popular group played their last shows ever at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Friday, October 10th. The band may have been given a “big record deal” (read: pink slip) but the Mulch memories can live on forever, thanks to our videos from their final day of performances.
First up, here is a recording of Mulch, Sweat, & Shears’ last 1:30 p.m. set on the Streets of America, as captured by Len Testa:
Here are Len’s thoughts on the band’s farewell:
As nice as it would be to say that the last Mulch show was its greatest ever, I’m telling you that the 1:30 PM show was the best Mulch performance I’ve ever seen. It was the final show with “Mia Mulch” as the band’s lead singer, and it was emotional from start to finish – you can tell in the video above that she’s choked up even before the band is set up to play.
But Mulch didn’t let any of that get in the way, and the cellphone quality of the recording doesn’t begin to capture how great the live sound was.
The thing I loved about this set was that they played songs you wouldn’t expect to hear in a Disney theme park, and they played them with an intensity that only a last show can have. From Led Zeppelin’s The Immigrant Song – a tune about invading Vikings coming to kill and pillage – they went into the Bangles’ cover of Paul Simon’s Hazy Shade of Winter, a song of despair and hopelessness best remembered from the Less Than Zero soundtrack, Bret Easton Ellis’ movie about prostitution and drugs in 1980’s Los Angeles. In fact, Mulch changed one of the lyrics to fit the occasion, singing “That’s an easy game to play / If your hopes should pass away / Simply pretend / We’ll be back here again.”
From there it was Aerosmith’s Dream On, a contemplation on life’s ups, downs and impermanence, to Metallica’s Enter Sandman, a nighttime lullaby that tells kids they’ll probably be murdered in their sleep.
Mia’s last Mulch song was Journey’s Any Way You Want It, a song about finding an emotional and physical connection with a woman. There are probably many female lead singers who would have changed the song’s lyrics from “she” to “he”, to avoid the implications, but thank God Mia sang it as written, heteronormative or not.
Finally, here is a complete recording of Mulch, Sweat, & Shears’ last performance ever at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, held at 4:30 p.m. in front of The Great Movie Ride. As you can see, the show stretched to nearly an hour (about double their typical set length) as the super-sized pumped-up crowd cried for encore after encore. Frontman Jim “Morris Mulch” Doyle was joined by his “sister” Mia for an emotional final concert crammed with hard rock classics that won’t otherwise often be heard inside a Disney theme park.
I’m ashamed to admit that I never paid much attention to Mulch, assuming that they were just another average cover band, and hadn’t seen a complete set of theirs until closing day. Now I wish I had, because — like fellow departed fan favorites groups Off Kilter and Billy Hill & The Hillbillies — Mulch, Sweat, & Shears built a strong rapport with their loyal audience that transcended their song list.
Hopefully, Mulch will find a second life (just as Off Kilter has) and will appear in the future elsewhere around the Orlando area. Until then, you’ll have to settle for holding your lawn rake like an electric guitar and jamming out in your living room to these videos.
In the meantime, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is left with one less entertainment option on its rapidly shrinking menu. A new Star Wars Launch Bay exhibit is scheduled to open soon inside the extinct Disney Animation building, as is a Club Disney dance party and rest area in the under-construction Sunset Showcase venue. Though welcome, those additions will probably be cold comfort to Mulch maniacs with “We Are the Champions” still echoing in their ears…