Tuesday, January 22, 2013

to erin is human

I know…I always feel like everyone should be storming the castles for shows that I think are worthwhile. Seriously. Iota, in particular, seems so hit-and-miss: hardly anyone for a Blue Mountain show a few months back, literally ten of us for Jason Ringenberg a few years ago, massive crowd for The Drams. Hey, I love Brent Best and the Drams, but really? I was surprised by that one. It was nearly a decade ago that I first saw Erin McKeown. She opened for The Be Good Tanyas at London’s Royal Festival Hall in March 2003. I’d never heard of her so I didn’t know what to expect that night; what I got was one of only two opening artists that I’ve ever really loved, either from the get-go or upon later listening (the Tarbox Ramblers are the other). Actually, there was never an opener that I came to like a few weeks later. She played at Iota last night and I was stunned by a few things: First, she didn’t have to creep way back into the catalog from whence I first encountered her way back when (no Le Petit Mort, no Slung Low) simply because she has an amazing amount of material from the last five or six years, and two or three ‘styles’. To see someone so comfortable with new music (her CD just came out last week) while playing such a small venue is no mean feat. Second, who puts together a tour and says, “what I need is a drummer and…a…sax player”? That’s it: Erin (and what always seems a HUGE guitar), the drummer, and a horn man. I’ve never seen that combo before, and I doubt I ever will again. The three of them were just great – perfectly comfortable, appeared ready for anything, and the sound aligned masterfully for her musical stylings. The crowd was good, though way smaller than it should have been for her talent and local roots, and it was wonderful to be about ten feet away and center stage for the show (see above). Luckily there’s a big brick pillar in the middle of Iota (that I kept behind me) so I didn’t quite feel so stalker-y. Not that I am. Nevermind. Jenn Grant opened the show and easily convinced me to buy her newest CD out today (she was selling, in her words, the “sweet Canadian version” that was already released). She had a strong four-piece on stage and also did something I hadn’t seen before: two mics set up with different mixes (it appeared and sounded); a pretty cool little trick to allow for smooth transitions even within songs. I’ll give her CD some time to grow, but she seems to have at least a few things and styles working in her songs. Grant’s set was definitely worth my time. Or, my time was worth her set…

After the show I nabbed Erin’s playlist (^^^^^ up there) from the very small Iota stage – and felt a bit like a criminal doing so. I had a chance to talk with her a bit afterwards and admitted my misdeed, and our original London encounter. She didn’t care a bit about my thievery, and signed the playlist for me. Ah, brushes with greatness. Here’s her first ever video – and she played the song backwards for us last night; something she had to learn during the shooting.

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