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Erin McKeown a one-woman show

Photo courtesy of Erin McKeown
Erin McKeown, a one-woman musical act, is opening for Mike Doughty Wednesday night at Plush. Even though most audience members will be going to see former 'Soul Coughing' front man, McKeown can hold her McKeown.
By Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 22, 2005
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Singer/songwriter Erin McKeown needed a challenge. After making three albums of critically acclaimed music that spanned genres from Tin Pan Alley to punk, McKeown wanted to try something different. The result is the stunning We Will Become Like Birds, which is impeccably brilliant without all the genre-hopping.

"It's a very different album from other things I've done," McKeown said. "Other things I've done have been more diverse. In terms of genre, there's always been sort of a swing element and some old time rock 'n' roll and maybe some punk involved. This time I wanted to make an album that was entirely modern pop music with a little bit of electronic touches to it."

McKeown, a multi-instrumentalist who often plays every instrument on her albums, recruited some additional musicians to make the experience different.

"This time I thought it would be really fun to have other people in the room and sort of do things more live," McKeown said. "It was also a great chance to meet some musicians I admired a great deal."

On a somber note, McKeown's new album was recorded in December in the now-ravaged city of New Orleans. The recent events play heavily on the musician's mind.

"It's just pretty bad," McKeown said. "We're not really sure yet the condition of the studio, it's in a part of New Orleans that a lot of other bad things happened to, but we haven't been able to get word of what exactly happened to it. It's disappointing because it was an incredible neighborhood and an incredible experience to be there for a month, making a record. I've been there other times before and have a great love for the city."

McKeown is doing her part in helping with the relief efforts through the money made from album sales, but she just hopes when the event disappears from headlines people keep it in their consciousness.

"You know in a few months this is not going to be in the news cycle anymore," McKeown said. "But the problems are still gonna be happening for those people. So one of things that's good, having made this album in New Orleans, is that six months from now I'm still gonna have a reason to talk about it."

Currently, McKeown is playing the opening slot on Soul Coughing ex-frontman Mike Doughty's tour. She couldn't be happier about the pairing.

"I think it came about because I've been a big Soul Coughing fan for a longtime and Sebastian Steinberg from Soul Coughing came and played bass on We Will Become Like Birds," McKeown said.

For most of the tour McKeown will have a drummer to help back her, but she will perform solo for Tucson.

"When I come to Arizona I have to play by myself," McKeown said. "I think that by the request of Mike Doughty and the club-maybe it's a small club or something-they asked that I play by myself."

McKeown is comfortable playing alone as she creates her recorded music in the same way.

"Well, each of the songs started with a single instrument part," McKeown said. "So, it's pretty easy and interesting to transfer the keyboard part to guitar, so I can do it by myself."

With a year that's already seen a record release, an appearance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and months of touring, McKeown doesn't appear to have plans to slow down, which stands as a testament to her do-it-yourself work ethic.

"I think I'll be touring until the end of November," McKeown said. "In December I have some plans to go visit friends and do some recording then and we'll see what happens after the New Year."

To see the one-woman wonder show, check out Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., Tuesday at 9 p.m. Tickets for the 21+ show are $12.

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