The first good sign was when a flock of geese flew over Kenley Centennial Amphitheater.
A concert at that outdoor Layton venue, I've found, can often be measured by the number of geese soaring over before darkness falls. I didn't have the presence of mind to count them -- pre-concert excitement, I guess -- but there had to be eight or 10 in the group making a purposeful pass over the grounds before Thursday night's music began.
The second good sign was when the opener, sweet-voiced Tift Merritt, hauled out a beat-up guitar -- the finish was plumb worn off in places -- and strapped on a harmonica. (Harmonicas being a good indicator of excellence in music, you see.)
The third good sign was when Mary Chapin Carpenter walked out with a big smile on her face.
Having listened to her latest album, "Ashes and Roses," with its melancholy themes of loss and lost love, I feared it might be a depressing night.
I needn't have worried. Briefly introducing each song with the story behind it, she was positively cheerful, joking about being single again and confessing to not having kissed a "human" in some time -- she does have five dogs and four cats, after all.
Her stories enhanced my understanding of the album, and emphasized coming out the other side of dark times, in a way that made me look forward to listening to it again.
A fan since before the "Down at the Twist and Shout" days, I was happy to hear some of her older songs as well. She wove in some of her feisty stuff, like "I Feel Lucky," "Girls With Guitars," "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" and "Shut Up and Kiss Me."
MCC was generous with her music and gracious to the appreciative crowd, stopping near the end of the concert to take a photo of the audience, which she later tweeted with: "Layton, Utah, do you know how beautiful you are? xo"
And, yes, I bought a T-shirt.