From tornado alley to 'Suicide Alley'

Let the end of summer begin … Kates goes back to school Monday, so we’ve decided to go all out this weekend. This afternoon I met Kirk Hinrich at the Racine Boat Show (got him to sign my KU basketball … Go Jayhawks!), then Kates and I hooked up and went to the Milwaukee County Zoo for tonight’s A La Carte event, although the real reason for going was to see Shawn Colvin (left) …

We might not have made it there had we had the fate that our fellow Wisconsinites experienced last night. I mean, we’ve had a drought this summer and we needed some rain and all, but sheesh! ...Yesterday afternoon the downtown was as dark as a night sky and we got dumped on for about 30 minutes straight. The afternoon sky cleared up and gave way to the sun at some points. But after supper, as I was driving to Blockbuster with a list of movies for the weekend, I noticed the incredible, gargantuan, dark orange and red cloud bearing down on the city from the west. The sky was turning pink and it was like nothing I’d seen before. All I could think of was 'War of the Worlds' and some alien creatures dropping out of the sky ... I wished I had my camera.

I got our movies and by the time I arrived home, Kates was on the phone with her mom and hearing the news that her grandma and some relatives survived one of the hardest hit areas, a tornado that went through their small town of Viola, apparently obliterating some 70 homes, lots of tress and the old feed mill in its path.

By the time the storm came east and reached us and the Milwaukee area, it’s strength had diminished substantially and we just got a good lightning storm as it passed on over Lake Michigan. When we turned on the local news they were giving reports of people finding papers and debris in their yards some 60-70 miles west of where it started in Stoughton. Unbelievable!

Reader: ahem! …Mr. Horns, sorry to interrupt, I can learn everything I want about tornados by watching the Weather Channel --

Mr. Horns: Oh yes! The Weather Channel! Splendid piece of television, isn’t it? It’s one of my mother’s favorites --

Reader: Yes, but Mr. Horns you were about to tell us about Shawn Colvin. How was that?

Yes. Sorry. Shawn Colvin. ... but for more on the tornado go here!

For my musical side, a dream come true tonight. I fell in love with Shawn Colvin’s music the moment I heard ‘Sunny Came Home’ hit the radio airwaves in the spring of ‘97. Her soothing music helped me through many stressful weeks in college and I haven’t stopped following that adoring, unmistakable, rough, yet soothing alto voice since.

Seeing her tonight -- for a cheap $9.75 adult admission into the zoo, I might add -- was everything I’d hoped it would be. Like an intimate MTV Unplugged or VH1 Storytellers performance, Colvin played to a diverse outdoor crowd of about 200 people on a small stage tucked at the furthest outskirts of the zoo grounds. A clear sky of stars and the full moon hung over as the zoo animals and full grown trees surrounded us.

No band. Just Colvin and her acoustic guitars. And that soothing alto voice.

Her set lasted almost two hours and included an encore of four songs. She wasted no time pleasing the crowd, delving into Shotgun Avalanche and mixing in a lot of old favorites with new tunes, and even taking requests from the crowd. Almost the entire show appeared made of whatever the heck Colvin felt like playing, which only added to the intimacy of it. She was barely halfway through the show when she told the crowd she wasn’t gonna wait any longer to play her most popular song -- an obvious intro to ‘Sunny Came Home’ -- adding that she didn’t care to save it for the end like other artists might and she wanted to play it before too many of her younger fans got sleepy.

She kept going with several more from her Grammy-award winning masterpiece, ‘A Few Small Repairs,’ including ‘Wichita Skyline’ and ‘Mona Lisa.’

Colvin charmed the crowd again when her ‘G-string’ broke and repaired the string as she conversed with the crowd about things to do in the area and a tangent about taking her 7-year-old daughter to Disney World, buying her a Belle dress that caught the eye of ‘The Beast’ -- thus Colvin joked she’s been brainwashed by Disney and has had to buy her daughter everything Disney since. The crowd was later treated to the cuteness that is Colvin’s daughter, who pranced onto the stage and playfully whispered some things into her mother’s ear. Callie, as Colvin introduced her, eventually whirled around toward the crowd and bounced back off the stage.

Taking more requests and keeping the young ones’ interests, Colvin also played a for-sure charmer from the Elmopalooza album, ‘I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon’ (although Ernie wasn't with her). And of course, Kates and I sang adoringly to every word in one of those concert moments you hope you never forget … The classic Colvin tunes seemed endless -- ‘Trouble,’ ‘Tennessee,’ Diamond in the Rough,’ ‘I Don’t Know Why,’ 'Matter of Minutes' and ‘Whole New You.’ And later a comical encore request of ‘Tenderness on the Block’ that Colvin muddled through and admitted she had forgotten the words. No problem -- the crowd helped her pretty well.

… A night to remember.

No comments: