The Iron Horse of the late ‘80s was an incubator venue in the launching of Shawn Colvin’s successful career. Her gigs in Northampton ever since have always felt like homecomings for longtime fans who have memories associated with her music, and epiphanies for new fans who have been weaned on younger female singer/songwriters who were inspired to play by Shawn.
For those of us who fell in love with Shawn’s heart-rending, even tear-jerking opening sets for the likes of Loudon Wainwright, Richard Thompson, and other Iron Horse stalwarts, it was no surprise when she was signed to Columbia Records. Her “Live Tape” recorded at The Horse and the Somerville Theatre in 1988 was a rare and coveted item as the only available recordings of her songs, but then her debut Columbia album Steady On came out. It was quite a shock to hear all of those beautiful solo acoustic songs now with studio production and full instrumentation. It felt like a sell-out to many of us in the Valley. I felt betrayed by the album…but eventually came to love it. Listening now I can’t imagine what I was thinking. It’s a corker.
Roughly seven albums later, Shawn Colvin is now among the canon of female singer songwriters, easily in legion with Joni Mitchell, who she cites as her primary inspiration. (Richard Thompson is #2.) Colvin’s sound and vulnerable but tough, self-possessed attitude, was the zeitgeist-du-jour as the female singer-songwriter frenzy of the 90’s got under way, culminating in the phenomenon of Lilith Fair. Sarah MacLachlan may have conceived the tour, but Colvin can easily be credited with laying the musical groundwork that made it possible.
Her latest album is 2006’s These Four Walls, and while incubating a new album and continuing to raise her daughter, Shawn has also been writing a memoir, A Few Small Repairs, due out in early 2009. Shawn will appear solo acoustic where she is arguably at her best and will undoubtedly have an even better arsenal of funny and poignant stories to share given her recent writing and recollecting.
Virginia’s Erin McKeown, Northampton’s adopted daughter who wrote her senior thesis at Brown University on playing at house parties, opens the show.
From The Washington Post 8/29/08: After releasing two albums in 2007 (a bubbly collection of jazz standards called "Sing You Sinners" and a live album titled "Lafayette"), Erin McKeown has spent this summer "off the grid," spending time in Nova Scotia, remote Michigan and rural Maine, where she recorded her upcoming album.
"I've actually been kind of disconnected from the communicative world this summer, and I prefer it that way," she says with a slight laugh. "There's definitely a thrill that I get from traveling, and I love to play for people . . . but I think my natural state is a more disconnected state."
The Fredericksburg VA native's career spans five albums, earning her a devoted following drawn to her powerful voice and guitar skills. During her dynamic live performances, she illustrates a diverse set of styles: swing, pop, flat-out rock.
McKeown, 30, has averaged 200 shows a year during her career. Although she has played the piano since she was 3 and guitar since she was 12, she never pictured performing for a living until she was 19 or 20. She says "music was just another thing I did, like going to gymnastics practice or doing homework." Now, she participates in Girls Rock! camps, which aim to teach and inspire young girls to play music. Rest of article here.
Get your tickets here!