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Interview:
Erin McKeown goes back to band days on Acoustic Cafe tour
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Singer-songwriter Erin McKeown has taken part in all three of the An Acoustic Cafe Evening tours so far. And she’s not getting tired of it yet.

“We get to be each other’s band — that’s kind of rare,” explains the Massachusetts-based McKeown, 34, who will be on the road with tour founder Carrie Rodriguez and Kelly Jo Phelps (Pieta Brown joins the tour on Jan. 31). “It’s a bit of a rarity among songwriters to find people who are also capable of and interested in playing instruments on our own. It’s nice to slip from side person to front person and be surrounded by people doing the same thing.”

Being in a band is not foreign to McKeown, however. Raised in Virginia, she recalls being part of “many terrible high school bands,” including one called Wheeze Cake, and playing plenty of her “native music,” which was Southern Rock. “I grew up learning all the lead guitar parts for Allman Brothers songs and Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, and I loved the Grateful Dead,” McKeown says — though she insists that she never played Skynyrd’s iconic “Free Bird.”

“I would guess all of us (on the tour), before we put our own name on a record, were in bands and played with other people,” says McKeown, who records for Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label and is working on news songs she’ll record later this year. The Brown University graduate is also in the midst of a Harvard fellowship to study Internet commerce and ethics.

“I don’t think anyone sets out to be a solo singer-songwriter, ’cause it’s incredibly lonely. Sometimes it’s just the way things go. But we all come out of band backgrounds and have that as a long-lost love, so this (tour) lets us get back into that a little bit.”

An Acoustic Cafe Evening with Carrie Rodriguez, Erin McKeown and Kelly Joe Phelps, is at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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