VPAC’s opening season kicks off with Shawn Colvin and Loudon Wainwright III on stage

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Three-time Grammy winner Shawn Colvin and Loudon Wainwright III took the stage at CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) Saturday night, kicking off the venue’s opening season.

The folk artists performed a stripped-down set that consisted of  acoustic guitar and piano.

Lynne and Ken Weiner, who have resided in the San Fernando Valley for over 50 years, said they attended the show for the new building’s prestige.

“We’re excited about being here tonight,” said Lynne.

Wainwright took the stage at 8 p.m., armed with an acoustic guitar and a warm greeting for the audience, which included praise for the new building.

“Well, this is a new joint, apparently. We’re breaking it in tonight!” Wainwright said.

The Grammy Award- winning musician is known for his witty lyrics as well as his acting abilities.

Wainwright’s musical career includes over 20 recorded albums, two of which were nominated for Grammy awards. His most recent album “High Wide and Famous” won the 2010 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album.

Wainwright’s performance included up-tempo country tunes reminiscent of Johnny Cash as well as slow and poignant piano ballads.

The artist kept the mood light with dry-humored jokes and comedic facial expressions directed at the audience.

Wainwright’s set included a song dedicated to his granddaughter and three country duets with co-headliner and fellow folk artist Shawn Colvin.

“I think Shawn Colvin is in the building!” he said as Colvin unassumingly walked on stage.

After a twenty minute intermission, Colvin took the stage. She thanked the audience genuinely, a shiny acoustic guitar in her arms.

Like Wainwright, Colvin has enjoyed a successful career as a folk singer-songwriter. The Illinois native won her first Grammy in 1990 for her debut album “ Steady On” but is best known for the breakthrough success of her 1996 album “A Few Small Repairs.” The album’s smash single “Sunny Came Home” reached the US top ten and nabbed two Grammy awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

Colvin’s set included her hits as well as covers by artists like Tom Waits and Neil Young. She also tried her hand at the Eagles’ “The Heart Of The Matter,” while pausing for the crowd to sing along.

Colvin was met with an enthusiastic applause  of approval from the crowd when she performed acoustic version of The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination.”

Towards the end of her set, a spectator yelled a request for “Crazy,” seemingly referring to Gnarls Barkley’s debut single, which Colvin covered and recorded in 2008.

Colvin obliged to the request, concluding the night with a haunting and bittersweet rendition of the smash hit.

Steven Jarrard, a Wainwright fan who lives in Burbank but hails from Northridge, was excited upon discovering the VPAC.

“This place is really, really interesting,” said Jarrard, after the show.

Jarrard said that the VPAC meshes a 60s, retro feel with a modern one. He also complimented the stage’s aesthetics.

“The lighting is just tremendous,” Jarrard said.