Updated Wed, Mar 14, 2012 3:07 pm
Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and activist Erin McKeown returns to Nelsonville's Stuart's Opera House on Fri. Jan. 27.
She has performed at the Nelsonville Music Festival and also once before at Stuart's in 2007. On this visit, she'll be performing as part of Acoustic Cafe, an annual two week-long collaboration of three artists. McKeown and the tour’s curator, Carrie Rodriguez, have participated twice in the past with the likes of Ben Sollee and Mary Gauthier. Kelly Joe Phelps rounds out the trio on this year's tour.
The tour's program is presented in two parts. Each of the participants have a solo set in the first half of the evening's show. The second half features all three musicians on stage, backing each other on original compositions and various covers.
"The second set is where the fun really begins," said McKeown.
All three performers are multi-instrumentalists and are stylistically quite different, which adds to the variety and musicality of show. For McKeown, supporting the other musicians in a band setting has become an enjoyable aspect of the tour.
"All of us are fans of songs and are happy being singer-songwriters with our own careers, but we're also happy to pick up an instrument and take on another role," she said.
Since the release of her debut album Monday Morning Cold in 1999, she has released nine other albums and toured extensively around the U.S. and Europe.
After a decade of playing hundreds of gigs a year, she took time off in 2011 to write and to work on issues that she strongly supports. She is involved with The Future of Music Coaltion, an organization that addresses technology issues that affect musicians.
Just this week, she produced a video explaining her positions on the SOPA and PIPA legislation, currently being debated in Congress, concerning freedom of speech and piracy on the web.
In on open letter on her blog, The Clatter of Keys, she writes along with other fellow artists, "We are deeply concerned that PIPA and SOPA’s impact on piracy will be negligible compared to the potential damage that would be caused to legitimate Internet services. Online piracy is harmful and it needs to be addressed, but not at the expense of censoring creativity, stifling innovation or preventing the creation of new, lawful digital distribution methods."
This year, McKeown is a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, where she is working on ways to bridge the worlds of law, computer science, social science and creative arts concerning internet policy and concerns.