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.
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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.
Natives who wander away from Texas for a period of years soon miss its homespun charms. We yearn for tradition-bound places like Shiner and Muleshoe and Alpine and the eating of brisket and beans on back porches on midsummer evenings when the fireflies dance. Horton Foote is one charming, homespun Texan who never strayed from his roots. The Wharton native has made the Lone Star State his mise en scene, and he's made a ton of artistic hay doing it: His credits include the original screenplay Tender Mercies, the plays The Trip to Bountiful, Valentine's Day, Lily Dale and The Young Man from Atlanta and the screen adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. He's won a Pulitzer (for Young Man), two Oscars (for Mercies and Mockingbird) and an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Foote continues Inprint's "The Play's the Thing: Three Playwrights & Their Work" series with an interview by the Alley Theatre's Michael Wilson, a reading and a Q&A session. 8 p.m. The Alley, 615 Texas. Info: 521-2026, 228-8241. $15; $10 for students and seniors.
It's hard enough to envision Hayley Mills as full-grown (and full-figured), harder still to imagine her in the role of warbling nursemaid to the massive brood sired by the King of Siam, as she does in The King and I. Many remember Mills as the pixy-faced do-gooder Pollyanna; pop-culture maniacs are mad about the Mills of 1961's The Parent Trap -- in which the young British actress played twins who plot to reconcile their divorced parents (a pre-Family Affair Brian Keith and the radiant Maureen O'Hara) by, among other things, performing a truly awful piece of period bubblegum pop. Thirty-seven years later, Hayley's singing better songs -- like "Getting to Know You" and "Shall We Dance?" -- as part of the touring revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut. Vee Talmadge plays the King. Opening performances are at 8 tonight and Wednesday; more shows are scheduled April 9 through 12. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-3974. $46 to $52 (Ticketmaster: 629-3700).
Runners are single-minded about their sport -- actually, they're real bores -- so it's refreshing to encounter racers with a sense of humor, like those behind the third annual Tour de Bayou. Though the five-stage package is serious in intent -- "All of the courses are pretty tough," warns Jerry Fuqua, owner of the co-sponsoring organization RunSport -- its approach is lightfooted. Echoing Fuqua, the press release promises "steep hills, wooded trails, cliffs, swamps, killer rabbits, mighty mosquitoes and sneaky snakes." Today's race, named "The McLatchie Classic" after Houston coach Jim McLatchie, is a 6K that starts at 6 p.m. on the south side of Buffalo Bayou near Allen Parkway and Waugh. The Tour continues weekly, through May 6, at various locations; upcoming stages include "The Secret Tunnel Syndrome," "The Ho Chi Minh Trail" and "The Big Loop de Loop." Info: 524-6662. Free.