Mary Chapin Carpenter delights Richmond fans at The National

RICHMOND, Va. — Grammy Award winning artist Mary Chapin Carpenter needs her solitude, but she also needs a rock and roll band.
Carpenter came to The National in Richmond on Saturday night ready to celebrate 30 years of performing and recording.

She brought the songs that make you think and the songs that make you want to dance.

She came with hits from the 1990s, songs that her lively audience sang back to her without missing a word.

She rolled through “Passionate Kisses,” “I Take My Chances,” “The Bug,” and “Shut Up and Kiss Me.”

Carpenter told her audience about song writing at her home in the Virginia mountains just down the road from Richmond.

Whenever she is at an impasse, she said she steps away from the kitchen table and walks the hills near her home, singing her new song to the trees until a solution presents itself.

She also told the story of her new album and the title song “Sometimes Just the Sky.” Markedly more thoughtful than the hits from earlier in her career, the song was inspired by singer Patti Smith.

Carpenter picked up the pace again Saturday night with “I Feel Lucky” and “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her.”

The latter prompting her to reflect on her 30 years of song writing.

The song is still fun to sing and her audience shouts it out when she asks for favorites, but the wife in the song is “in the typing pool at minimum wage,” she explained. She’s just not sure how to explain a typing pool in this day and time. Also, she can no longer burn a photograph in a song, deleting it just doesn’t have the same impact, she said.

The Grammy winner wrapped up the show with an encore of “Twist and Shout” and “The Hard Way.”

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards, the opening act, joined her on stage for the final two songs.

The chemistry and mutual admiration between these two acts is fully developed. Cortese played fiddle for “Twist and Shout.” All of The Dance Cards sang back up for “The Hard Way.”

Carpenter was scheduled to perform at The Paramount Theater in Charlottesville on Sunday night.