Fans of post-folkie Shawn Colvin know she has a ringing bell for a voice and a knack for slugging the occasional lyrical/ironic pop home run (like the upbeat downer "Round of Blues"). Speaking of irony, how strange that Colvin's overdue breakthrough came with "Sunny Came Home," a solid but hardly world-beating number that recently won Grammys for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Shawn's entire career has been a study in such musical incongruity. We call her Hit-and-Ms.; while she virtually defines the "singer" part of the "singer/songwriter" equation, she's never released a fully satisfying album of original tunes, and her best work has been covers of songs by other writers (Warren Zevon/ Jackson Browne's "Tenderness on the Block" from Steady On, Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" and Jimmy Webb's "If These Walls Could Speak" from Cover Girl). Touring Texas, a state she called home for a short time when she played with the Dixie Diesels, Colvin visits Houston tonight. Austin's Ana Egge opens at 8. Aerial Theater at Bayou Place, 520 Texas, 230-1600. $22.50 and $29.25 (Ticketmaster: 629-3700).
Texas Monthly has always been a good read, but, image being everything in this post-literate age, the style honchos at TM have never skimped on the art. Many of the top lens artists within these yawning borders (and without) have contributed to the magazine over the last quarter-century -- natives like Keith Carter, Geoff Winningham and Geof Kern and internationally known photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, William Wegman and Mark Klett. But the photos proper are pure-dee Texas. Those collected in "The Pictures of Texas Monthly: Twenty-Five Years" include shots of the mighty (Newton's Heiress-Hotelier Caroline Hunt Schoellkopf) and the meek (Kern's Field Worker), the bold (Wyatt McSpadden's Environmental Enforcer John Hall) and the beautiful (O. Rufus Lovett's Kilgore Rangerette), the scary (Danny Turner's Cosmetics Tycoon Mary Kay Ash at Home) and the truly scary (Dan Winters's White Supremacist). Anne Wilkes Tucker of Houston's Museum of Fine Arts co-curated the touring exhibit, which opens with a reception from 6 to 8 this evening and continues through May 3. The Houston Center for Photography, 1441 West Alabama, 529-4755. (Tucker moderates a related panel discussion from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the MFA; info: 639-7300.)
Da Camera is the sort of organization every major city should have, but most lack: one committed to casting light on the fine fringes of the arts and to taking the road less-traveled by typical symphonies and performance troupes. The little arts organization that could strikes again with Moondrunk, a world-premiere co-production with Houston's Society for the Performing Arts and New York's Lincoln Center. Performance artist/choreographer John Kelly and Arnold Schoenberg's 21-song cycle Pierrot lunaire, op. 21, are at the heart of the program. Kelly and fellow dancers/ actors Barbara Allen and Jon Kinzel bring physical motion to the piece; they're accompanied by Sarah Rothenberg's petite chamber orchestra and soprano Lucy Shelton. Also on the bill: works that influenced Schoenberg by J. Strauss and Brahms and a recorded reading of Goethe's Die Erlksnig ("The Erl King") by late German actor Alexander Moissi. 8 tonight and Saturday. The Cullen Theater at Wortham Center, 500 Texas, 237-1439. $20 to $31 (Houston Ticket Center: 227-ARTS; Ticketmaster: 629-3700).
Houstonians have pretty well trashed the greater Gulf Coast, so a bit of environmental education -- packaged with sugar in the form of live music and other entertainments -- is in order. That's the mission of today's Earth Day Festival, an event whose stated purpose is to "encourage Houston-area families and residents to do their part to preserve, conserve and enhance our Earth." On the agenda: concerts by Sister Hazel, Jimmy Ray and Billie Myers, the show Puppets Save the Earth, the Can Art Contest, a Kids Zone and various planet-saving displays by local conservation groups. Noon to 7 p.m. Buffalo Bayou Park, west of downtown between Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive. Info: 266-1000. $6 (proceeds to the Citizens' Environmental Coalition and the Houston Parks & Recreation Department). Kids under 12 get in free.
If you've got nothing better to do than sit around and watch HBO, you might as well sit around and watch it with the Clear Lake Area chapter of the National Space Society. The space cases in the CLA-NSS are celebrating the premiere of a new HBO miniseries with their own From the Earth to the Moon bash. The 12-part series is an overview of NASA's Apollo program; it was executive-produced by Tom Hanks and produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer -- members of the team that gave us the whiz-bang flick Apollo 13. Parts one and two air tonight; additional two-parters run each Sunday through May 10. "It's just a bunch of space nerds sitting around watching what you could watch at home," admits CLA-NSS prez Murray G. Clark, speaking of his group's gratis party, "but since we're the Clear Lake chapter, some of the people whose lives are portrayed in the film might drop in." That and the hors d'oeuvres are on the house; you supply the Tang. 6 to 9:30 p.m. Damon's Sports Bar at the Radisson Hotel/Hobby Airport, 9100 Gulf Freeway, 941-5048.