Sunday, November 01, 2009

Erin McKeown + Jill Sobule: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

I've been a fan of Jill Sobule (left) and Erin McKeown (right) for a long time and, in the last year or so, they have become pioneers of new fundraising models for the music industry. They both also have new albums out and are out on a US tour together through the start of December, including:

* Wed Nov 04: Ann Arbor MI at The Ark
* Thu Nov 05: Cleveland OH at Beachland Tavern
* Fri Nov 06: Buffalo NY at The Ninth Ward
* Sun Nov 08: Chicago IL at Old Town School of Folk Music
* Mon Nov 09: Madison WI at High Noon Saloon
* Tue Nov 10: Minneapolis MN at Cedar Cultural Centre
* Thu Nov 12: Seattle WA at Tractor Tavern
* Fri Nov 20: Santa Monica CA at McCabe’s Guitar Shop
* Sat Nov 21: Santa Barbara CA at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club
* Sun Nov 22: San Diego CA at Casbah
* Fri Nov 27: Denver CO at Walnut Room
* Sun Nov 29: Kansas City MO at Record Bar
* Mon Nov 30: St. Louis MO at Off Broadway
* Thu Dec 03: Asbury Park NJ at The Saint
* Fri Dec 04: New York NY at Highline Ballroom
* Sat Dec 05: Philadelphia PA at World Cafe Live
* Sun Dec 06: Goshen MA at The IMA Big Barn

I was lucky enough to have some time with them both just before their first show of the tour at Club Passim the famed club in Cambridge, Massachusetts that started as Club 47 in 1958. You can find their upcoming dates at on McKeown's site or Sobule's site.

Sobule has released eight albums since her first, Things Here are Different in 1990, including releases on the Atlantic and Artemis Record labels. Her latest album, California Years, was financed entirely by her fans with tiers of donation levels and corresponding tiers of how donors were involved with hearing or participating in the record itself. Aiming for $70,000, Sobule ultimately raised close to $90,000 from 500 of her fans.

McKeown has also released eight albums since her first, Monday Morning Cold, in 1999 including releases on Nettwerk Records and Signature Sounds. McKeown raised money to produce her new album, Hundreds of Lions, by producing a series of online video variety shows, each webcast from different spots at her home in Western Massachusetts. McKeown charged a subscription rate to view all four episodes. You can still subscribe and view these. The album was just released by Ani DiFranco's label Righteous Babe Records.

McKeown was also on a panel called "The New DIY: Creative Control in an Accelerated World" at the recent Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington D.C.

McKeown and Sobule are literally leading the way in the new music ecosystem where musicians and music fans are connecting directly with each other via the internet. Instead of musicians sharing their revenue with a record store, a distributor, and a record label, artists are utilizing fan-funded opportunities to allow them to bring new work to their fans. Some other recent examples include David Bazan, Kristin Hersh, Idlewild, Issa (Jane Siberry), Marillion, Amanda Palmer (hear the Well-Rounded Radio Interview), Public Enemy, and Michael Tarbox (hear the the Well-Rounded Radio Interview).

Sobule's California Years was produced by Don Was (Was (Not Was) and producer of Bonnie Raitt, Rolling Stones, B-52’s, and many, many more) and written over the past three years after she moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and is often very much about the Golden State. As she has long done, Sobule switches between subjects that touch you and humor with some real substance...she keeps you guessing and coming back for more.

McKeown's Hundreds of Lions was produced by her longtime musical partner Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter (hear the Well-Rounded Radio Interview), Langhorne Slim, Kris Delmhorst). Together they experimented with pairing acoustic and synthesized sounds, resulting in a lush, sophisticated record that continues McKeown's musical journey as a performer that you can never quite predict what sounds she'll be creating next. Just the way I like 'em.

We recently spoke in the dressing room at Club Passim--with all the sounds you'd expect in a nightclub and restaurant-- to discuss:
* how each of them came to decide to organize fan-funded projects
* some pros and cons to recording and releasing your own work
* what they’ve learned by being pioneers...and what they still aspire to learn

Songs featured in this episode from McKeown's Hundred of Lions and Sobule's California Years albums include:
1) Erin McKeown: Santa Cruz
2) Jill Sobule: Nothing to Prove
3) Jill Sobule: San Francisco
4) Jill Sobule: The Donor Song
5) Erin McKeown: The Foxes
6) Erin McKeown: The Rascal
7) Jill Sobule: Where is Bobbi Gentry?
8) Erin McKeown: To a Hammer
9) Jill Sobule: Palm Springs
10) Erin McKeown: You, Sailor
11) Jill Sobule: Empty Glass
12) Erin McKeown: The Foxes
13) Jill Sobule: League of Failures
14) Erin McKeown: (Put the Fun) Back in Funerals
15) Jill Sobule: Spiderman
16) Erin McKeown: 28
17) Jill Sobule: Mexican Pharmacy
18) Erin McKeown: Seamless
19) Jill Sobule: A Good Life
20) Erin McKeown: The Boats
21) Jill Sobule: The Donor Song