I first saw Erin McKeown when she was here, opening for Mike Doughty a couple years ago. She put on a great set and I immediately bought her CD after the show. There she was, working her own merch, and I got the chance to meet her. And what a firecracker she was. Cracking jokes and having a great time, it was infectious.
She didn’t have change when I paid for my CD, so I just said to keep the extra $5 and it was no big deal. She wrote a bit extra for my autograph and was happy to pose for a picture — one which she took herself by holding my camera at arm’s length. A couple minutes later, as I was waiting in line to talk with Doughty, she practically tackled me to give make sure I got my change since she had it. The disk was We Will Become Like Birds and, as it happens, I rather enjoy it. It has a near-permanent place on my iPod and gets played quite often.
I was glad to see her coming back to town as a headliner at the Cedar Cultural Center. I would have preferred a bigger venue, but this was good. I didn’t hesitate in buying a ticket and really looked forward to the show.
When I got there, I discovered that she had many more than just the one CD. In addition to Birds there were five others and I bought them all. I simply couldn’t resist.
The opening act was a woman named Haley Bonar. She was O.K., the songs being mostly very simple 4/4 numbers free of any real complication. I ended up passing on her CD. The set just wasn’t good enough to pay $15 for the disk.
One of Erin’s disks turned out to be covers of old Jazz tunes; stuff from the 20’s and 30’s. It’s an era I hold dear to my heart. Much of my favorite music is from that era. It’s the stuff that really sticks with me through the years.
Once Erin came out, things got good. She did a bunch of stuff from the Jazz disk, as well as from Birds and her older releases. The set list went something like this: Thanks for the Boogie Ride; Paper Moon; White City; James!; I Was a Little Too Lonely (You Were A Little Too Late); You Were Right About Everything; The Taste of You; Coucou; Sing You Sinners; Melody; Rhode Island is Famous for You; What Kind of Lover Am I?†; I Will Never Leave You†; To the Stars†; Slung-Lo; Wooden Boat?† (a new song); We Are More; Halleluja…Get Happy; with an encore of: If You a Viper; Blackbirds.
After the show Erin came out for autographs and meet-n-greet. I got to chat with her for a couple minutes and got my photo from the Doughty show signed. She actually remembered the occasion and the $5 thing. I also found out she has been in town nearly a dozen times. I admitted that the Doughty show was the first I had heard of her, and I wish it had been much earlier. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to perhaps the tiniest fanboy crush, so that’s about as far as I got. My brain went to mush because I was talking to a cute girl with a great voice and I completely forgot go get any of the new CDs signed.
You can bet I won’t miss her again and I can’t wait for the next time. If you get the chance, don’t miss it.
† I’m not 100% sure of the song title. Erin didn’t announce them and I can’t seem to pick them out from just looking at the track lists on her CDs.