- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2000

Most musicians who hit the big time typically don't remember the little bars and coffeehouses they played during their climb to the top, let alone come back and play at them. Shawn Colvin is different.
On Monday night, the three-time Grammy winner came to the Birchmere Music Hall for the first of three sold-out acoustic shows after a three-year hiatus. Her folksy storytelling-style of singing and her intricate guitar picking were heard dozens of times at the Birchmere in the late 1980s and early 1990s when she was just getting her start and was, as she says, a spunky little chick.
The old Birchmere, just a few blocks down the street from the new venue, was where Miss Colvin opened for artists such as K.D. Lang and met longtime friend and playing partner Mary Chapin Carpenter.
The success of 1996's "A Few Small Repairs," which garnered two Grammys, and a slew of other projects have kept her out of the area.
"I know you're Birchmere people," Miss Colvin said to applause just before launching into one of a dozen stories about her experiences playing with Sting (the Englishman exercises outside his dressing room); the terrifying experience she had with President Clinton's cat, Socks; and the excitement of playing and singing Beach Boys songs to her 2-year old daughter, Caledonia Jean-Marie. "I don't want to play. I just want to talk," she said.
But when she did put her fingers to the guitar and let loose her sweet, mellow voice, she didn't disappoint. Playing such wistful songs as "Trouble" from "A Few Small Repairs" and "Shotgun Down the Avalanche," from her Grammy-winning "Steady On," Miss Colvin sang as though she were on the fence in a romance.
Her yearning to break free from her roots in small-town South Dakota showed in her rendition of Steve Earle's "Someday" and her own "Wichita Skyline" from "A Few Small Repairs."
When Miss Colvin played "A Matter of Minutes," a tune about deciding whether to pack one's bags or set up house in a topsy-turvy relationship, she gave the audience a taste of what's in store when her new album comes out in January.
The petite folk singer-songwriter's two biggest hits so far, the haunting "Sunny Came Home" and the joyous "You and the Mona Lisa," were sung with passion and conviction. For the mostly middle-aged crowd, the most memorable song of the evening may have been "Steady On," a song from Miss Colvin's album of the same name, her first.
Melissa Ferrick provided a fine opening performance. She offered up lonesome tunes from her sunburst acoustic guitar and stream-of-consciousness lyrics about lost loves and broken hearts.

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