Friday, January 11, 2013

The Boston Globe

In previewing my show at Johnny D's tonight the Boston Globe asked me about five of my favourite New York haunts...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

PRI Bob Edwards Show interview w/ Susan McKeown

Nick Loss-Eaton: PRI Bob Edwards Show interview w/ Susan McKeown:  This interview aired on SIRIUS XM November 19 and on PRI the weekend of December 1-2.
It was a wonderful experience having this conversation with Bob.

Friday, January 4, 2013

An Irish Expat Flaunts Her American Roots

From today's Wall Street Journal: Susan McKeown is marking the release of her 11th album with a tour that will make a stop Saturday at the 92nd Street Y. The experience of the Irish community is a common thread in the narrative of New York City and throughout the U.S. Whether marching in a St. Patrick's Day parade or cheering Notre Dame in the national championship game, many Irish-Americans pride themselves in showing off their emerald roots. But it didn't make much sense to the Dublin-born singer-songwriter Susan McKeown when she arrived in New York in 1990. Like so many immigrants before her, she'd left Ireland in search of a new life, a new narrative. "I was 23 and I'd already been on the show that is the 'Letterman' of Ireland, which was great," Ms. McKeown recalled recently at an East Village restaurant. "But I needed to get out because it was very limiting, both as a woman and as a musician." Those conservative social mores were at play even in the Irish capital city of Dublin. When she had an idea, Ms. McKeown said, people were quick to tell her the reasons why she shouldn't try it. Her earliest role model was her mother, a working musician who performed everywhere from weddings to pub gigs to music stores in Dublin before succumbing to cancer when Ms. McKeown was 15. "She even said that she had gone as far as she could go as a woman at the time, so these were immense achievements," she said of her mother. "She did it because she loved what she did, and that is a drive for me." Twenty two years after settling in the city—which amounts to half her life—Ms. McKeown is marking the release of her 11th album, "Belong," with a local tour that will make a stop Saturday at the 92nd Street Y. Technically gifted enough to handle everything from traditional Irish music to klezmer (on collaborations with the Klezmatics) to mariachi music and African sounds (on her 2004 album, "Sweet Liberty"), here Ms. McKeown is circling back to America and its roots music, with a solid acoustic band behind her. Her story as a New Yorker began in 1990, when she won a scholarship to study to the American Musical & Dramatic Academy, on the Upper West Side. She quickly found her stride downtown, falling in with the fertile music and social scene surrounding Sin-é, the now legendary coffee house on St. Mark's Place and Third Avenue owned by Irish ex-patriot Shane Doyle. While celebrities like U2, Gabriel Byrne and Frank McCourt passed through, Ms. McKeown, Jeff Buckley and others found a supportive place to play and hang out. "Everybody was there, and I lived on that block," she recalled. "Sometimes I'd be there until 4 a.m. and then I'd go back when I got up. There wasn't the Internet, so people would come by." Although Ms. McKeown always thought of herself as a songwriter, most of her 11 albums feature traditional Celtic tunes with a twist. Over the years, she's collaborated with others inside and outside of Celtic music—most notably the Klezmatics on the Grammy-winning 2006 album "Wonder Wheel"—but record labels typically asked her to record traditional music. "She's deeply rooted in Celtic music, but with an open mind and ear," said Frank London, the Klezmatic who has also worked with They Might Be Giants, Mel Torme and Iggy Pop. "Her work on 'Wonder Wheel' is astounding and rich, creating connections between all the world's spiritual and folk musics—Jewish, Irish, American and more." Perhaps not surprisingly, her versatility and inquisitiveness have left Ms. McKeown outside the vibrant American Celtic music scene—ironically, she was deemed not Irish enough—leaving her to play art houses and music clubs with open booking policies. "Belong" is just her third album of all original material, and likely won't do much to change that impression. Its warm acoustic sound and tempos are firmly in the acoustic Americana vein of Natalie Merchant and Tracy Chapman. But, true to form, Ms. McKeown also adds in a mambo called "The City of Roses," a country tune called "Texas" and the gospel-like "No Jericho," the album's vocal tour de force. Said her friend, the folk-rock singer Linda Thompson, "a powerful voice, beautiful timbre and great range, both musically and emotionally? That's rare. What's not to love?" The original songs on "Belong" are often autobiographical: The album is filled with stories of heartbreakers and characters she's met in America, none bigger than her adopted hometown, which is name-checked on "On the Bridge to Williamsburg" and the moody waltz "Lullaby of Manhattan." "Susan has been at this a long time and she is no longer bothered with the technical parts of being a songwriter, a singer and a producer," said singer Erin McKeown (no relation), who appears on "Belong." "Now she transcends all that and describes a moment in her life where she is fully realized as an artist and as a person." Sin-é closed in 1996, and Ms. McKeown isn't staying out till dawn anymore. But her love of New York and its people endure. She belongs in the East Village, where she shares an apartment with her 10-year-old daughter. "I've built a life here, so all sorts of opportunities come around the corner every day," she said. "I love it here. I love walking out the door and running into people I know." A version of this article appeared January 4, 2013, on page A20 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: An Irish Expat Flaunts Her American Roots.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WFUV in-studio performance and interview

WFUV Media Player: The Sunday Breakfast - 12/30/12
We had a great time in the WFUV studio with John Platt. The interview and performance is in the last third of this December 30 episode of his show 'The Sunday Breakfast'.

Concert Previews

Concert Previews Here's a really lovely preview from last Friday's Philadelphia Inquirer.

On The Bridge To Williamsburg - Susan McKeown

Happy New Year! Here's a video for "On the Bridge to Williamsburg" from 'Belong'.
I'm looking forward to playing with these fine musicians at 92Y Tribeca on Saturday 5 January at 9pm.