Last weekend, I whiled away part of Sunday afternoon on PledgeMusic and Kickstarter, where many music artists caught my eye. Only one, however, caught my ear: Tulsa-based singer-songwriter Erin O’Dowd.
In her introductory paragraph, she shares a “lo-fi” video for her song “Old Town,” which I’ve embedded above. While it may be lo-fi, her soul comes through at the highest of bit-rates. Curious and wanting to hear more, I turned to the Internet’s oracle for such things – YouTube.
Check out her song “Robin’s Egg Blue”:
And here she is with the honky-tonkin’ “Trick Pony”:
And, last, here’s her emotive cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery”:
She’s someone whose album I’d buy tomorrow and likely obsess over, as I’m apt to do, and someone I’d head down to Philly to see in concert without a second’s thought. Travis Linville, the guitarist in Hayes Carll’s band, has committed to producing her debut album – and, hopefully, their $10K goal is met so that whatever they need, they get.
I asked if she’d be willing to answer a few questions via email, and she agreed.
When did you know you wanted to be a singer?
Since I was just a little kid. I was always singing and making up songs. I did my first talent show when I was 2 or 3. I sang “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music.
When did you take up guitar?
I took up guitar when I was 15. My older brother played and that turned me onto it. I grew up playing piano and that was my first instrument.
Who are your influences? Do you have a favorite songwriter?
My top influences are Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Gram Parsons, Loretta Lynn, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, the Band, Ryan Adams, gosh I could go on forever.
What was the first album/CD/download you purchased?
It was definitely a Christian CD – I grew up pretty sheltered and a pastor’s kid. I believe the singer’s name was Jaqui Velasquez, but I don’t remember the title! Really beautiful stuff.
And, on the flip side, what was the last album you picked up (or added to your library, if you stream via Spotify or Apple Music)?
The last full album I listened to was John Moreland’s latest release, Big Bad Luv. It’s fantastic!
On my blog, I sometimes spotlight albums I deem “essential” – things everyone should hear, at least once, in my opinion. What are a few of yours? What is it about them that draw you back, time and again?
Oh, wow – well, for me, definitely Dylan’s first several hits: Freewheelin’, Nashville Skyline, and Bringing It All Back Home. Blonde on Blonde. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite among those. The songs are all equally poignant and inspirational. There’s something about the train of inspiration he hit after his first two that just struck gold and it didn’t stop. It still hasn’t stopped for him. There’s a soulfulness, playful creativity, and an honesty to those songs that never looses its luster to me.
Are you into vinyl? Prefer downloads?
I’m totally into vinyl. I had a massive collection that I lost to a mold problem in some places I lived in. It was totally devastating. So right now I’m into streaming, but only because that’s what I can afford.
On your Kickstarter page, you mention that Tampa is your other hometown. What led you to move to Tulsa?
I moved to Tulsa when I was 11 years old with my family. My Dad took up a new church here, and so here we came. I was actually born in Mississippi while he was in school there, but I don’t remember it at all.
How did you connect with Travis Linville?
Travis is an Okie guy with a huge talent for songwriting, performing (multiple instruments), and production. I first met him seven years ago or so at a show of his in Tulsa. It was the first time I had seen him and I was blown away. I actually didn’t know he did production until a few years later. I was struggling to find the right producer/engineer to work with and a few friends threw his name out. I decided, what the hell, I might as well ask him. Happily, he was into the idea!
You mentioned that you had concerts lined up in NYC and Canada for April. How did they go?
I had a great little tour of the Northeast in April. I started in Brooklyn, did one in NYC, one in Toronto, and one in Ottawa. I picked up a couple extra in Brooklyn and Toronto along the way. It was a super fun time, full of wonderful memories. I had some amazing musical experiences jamming with fellow buskers in the subway, with new best friends in Toronto, and with a friend from Folk Alliance in Ottawa. I made some really great connections and I can’t wait to go back along that route.
Do you get a chance to attend concerts, or are you too busy playing out? What are some of the more memorable ones you’ve seen?
I am pretty dang busy playing out – up to five or six engagements a week, usually, but I make it out to see other folks as much as I can. That’s what keeps me going! We have such an incredible music community in Tulsa. Within our local music scene live some of my favorite artists, including Jared Tyler, Linville and Chloe Johns. I could go on forever, but I’ll stop there. The most recent bigger shows I got to see were Sondre Lerche (in Toronto) and Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes). Two of my all time faves, as well. I have a lot of favorites. I guess I’m kind of a music nerd.