Headed to Shawn’s Repair Shop

Shawn ColvinThis evening, we finally get to see Shawn Colvin in concert. We have been anticipating this show for months and I am beyond excited about it. It’s a ways up the road at the Tri-Lake Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake, so we will stay nearby overnight rather than make the drive home afterwards.

I’m delighted to also see that Shawn’s backing band includes a couple of musicians I know holding down the rhythm section. Glenn Fukunaga plays bass with a wide variety of Austin performers, as well as major touring acts like the Dixie Chicks. Glenn lives in our old neighborhood, Zilker, so I would often see him walking in the neighborhood, so we had what you might call a “nodding acquaintance.” My friend from Japan, Shuichi, also knows Glenn and stayed with him during one of his stateside visits for Austin music several years ago.

Mike Meadows plays drums and percussion for the band, and he is always a delight to hear in the mix. He accompanied my cousin, Will T. Massey, for awhile, so I got early and close exposure as this guy honed his chops, created and developed unique percussion devices (like his Black Swan Drum) and got noticed enough to tour behind people like Hayes Carll, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson — and, of course, Shawn Colvin.

Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, husband and wife songwriters & performers, also play in Shawn’s band but will open the show on their own. I’m not familiar with their music, but have seen multiple raves from musicians I respect, so I’m stoked to hear some new stuff this evening, too.

As to Shawn herself, I can’t say enough, I can’t rave enough about her, her music, her performing, and her ever-struggling-but-rising spirit. Shawn first caught my attention at the Kerrville Folk Festival back in the early 90s with her powerful insight and edgy emotional quality. She introduced her song, “Another Long One Tonight” by saying something like,“This one goes out to all the other girls who’ve had such hard luck we wouldn’t know good love if it came up and bit us in the face.” Gotta love that sharp-edged vulnerability.

Then, Sara and I got to see her at the Cactus Cafe, an intimate Austin setting on the UT campus. She was on a return visit to Austin, and enjoyed spotting friends in the audience. She invited mandolinist extraordinaire and former bandmate Paul Glasse to join her onstage, but he declined, letting her shine on her own there that night. After an amazing set, the audience hadn’t had nearly enough and we called her back for an encore. Alluding to the somewhat dark nature of much of her material, she muttered something about playing for masochists before polishing us off nicely that night.

Years later, I would see her from much further away on the Austin City Limits Festival stage on a sunny afternoon. Partway through her set there, she welcomed a handful of young girls to the stage to join her and dance. Turned out to be some kids I knew from our son’s elementary school, Zilker Elementary School. See, Shawn’s sister worked at the school so there was some definitely some “6 degrees of separation” background on that.

When Shawn published, Diamond in the Rough: A Memoir, she wrote about her ongoing struggles with mental health issues, including past substance abuse and ongoing “treatment-resistant depression.” It’s not like she had hidden them away, but it just kinda happens when you want to keep moving forward — it’s not something you parade around on stage. She has courageously shared her story and her struggles, while still maintaining a level of privacy difficult when your vocation is writing and performing highly personal material.

Last fall, we saw Shawn and Steve Earle playing in concert together. Their collaboration album, Colvin & Earle, still stuns me with the duo’s originals, of course, but the covers they included — Beatles & Stones! — deliver unexpected new delights from old nuggets. Seeing those two masters enjoying each other’s company and music onstage cannot be described in words, a wonderful memory deeply seared into my brain.

This show tonight is part of Shawn’s tour celebrating the 20 year anniversary of A Few Small Repairs, so her spirits seem to be soaring these days as she takes a bit of a victory lap. We are delighted to be able to go see, hear, and experience the exuberant joy of Shawn Colvin and band tonight.

By the way, you’re invited to drop in on a livestream of tonight’s show here if you want.

Meanwhile, here’s a taste of solo Shawn Colvin playing a couple of tunes for Billboard Live just a few weeks ago:


About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
This entry was posted in Buller, music, musicians, performances and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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