Wicked Big Sports Fan

Folksinger and sports writer Erin McKeown plays the Parlor Room this weekend.

It can be hard to kick the Sunday habit of watching NFL football. Just ask Valley singer/songwriter/activist Erin McKeown.

“I’m really having a crisis of conscience with the NFL,” McKeown tells the Advocate, “about what they knew or didn’t know about concussions. But I’m still a huge fan.”

McKeown is best known as an accomplished musician and activist, and rightfully so. She has recorded eight full-length albums and three EPs, and spent the past decade performing her socially conscious music around the world. Her latest offering, Manifestra, includes the song “Baghdad to the Bayou,” which was co-written with Rachel Maddow, and addresses oil-laden injustices from the Middle East to the Gulf of Mexico.

But while she admits to “never really wanting to write songs about sports,” McKeown is a committed fan, who “gets bored talking about music only.”

In fact, more than just a fan, McKeown is an accomplished sports writer as well, and recently completed a series of stories “on the intersection of sports and music” for WNYC’s Soundcheck Blog.

“There’s a lot of cross-pollination” between the worlds of music and sports, she explains, noting that both are often used as means of relaxation, and that professionals of either business are often especially fond of the other. “My goal,” she adds, “was to do more sports writing this year.”

In one post (see http://www.erinmckeown.com), she interviewed Brian Barthelmes, frontman for the indie folk band Tallahassee, who gave up football after spending two years on the New England Patriots practice squad. “As Barthelmes … explained,” writes McKeown, “being a musician has created a more healthful, creative, and fufilling environment for him than professional sports.”

Another time, McKeown spoke with former North Carolina State hoops star Christen Greene, who is now the business manager for the Providence-based band The Lumineers.

But it’s hearing her as-yet-unwritten tale of striking up a friendship with the Fenway Park organist that strikes the strongest chord at this late October baseball time of year, though that story has yet to be fully told.

It’s possible between-song fodder for her two solo shows (at 7 and 9 p.m.) at the Parlor Room this Saturday, Oct. 26. Rumors that McKeown will be decked out in team gear could not be confirmed at press time.

(Originally appeared in the Valley Advocate.)

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