Saturday, February 7, 2009

Erin McKeown

As is my habit, I picked up a few unfamiliar CDs on my last visit to the Public Library. One was “Sing Sinners” by Erin McKeown. Having no foreknowledge, I listened without expectations. While the library categorized it as "folk," the album turned out to be a collection of jazz standards by an exceptionally talented singer and guitar player.

My first video is of McKeown’s cover of a Fats Waller tune about pot-smoking, “If You a Viper.” No endorsement of this behavior is to be implied by my having posted the song--it's just one of my favorite tunes to have played and sung with my now-defunct band, Bourbon Jockey (though we did it about eight times faster). I like McKeown's laconic version, especially the fun, fun drumming by Allison Miller and the bass solo by Todd Sickafoose (starting at about the 3:00 mark). I like my live music loose and full of humor.

I’m also a sucker for live performances of incongruous cover songs. Sometimes the results are kitschy fun--other times, a new interpretation of a pop song reveals that it is rooted in really good songsmithing. This next video, with McKeown’s cover of Beyonce’s ubiquitous song “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” does both. It's a lot of fun and is sung to a very appreciative audience (McKeown has a devoted fan base among girls who like girls).

I'll close this post with one of McKeown's own songs, "If You Want to be a Lady," and with a caveat: I've only heard her album of standards and what I've fished off of YouTube, so my selections may not accurately reflect her work. I just like them.

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