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Into the political fray with Nellie McKay

Courtesy photo
Singer/songwriter Nellie McKay returns to "Mountain Stage" and shares Sunday's bill with The Mountain Goats, Dr. Dog, Red Wanting Blue and The Spirit Family Reunion at Huntington's Keith Albee Theater. (Photo by Brian Blauser)
WANT TO GO?"Mountain Stage" With Nellie McKay, The Mountain Goats, Dr. Dog, Red Wanting Blue and The Spirit Family ReunionWHERE: Keith Albee Theater, HuntingtonWHEN: 7 p.m. SundayTICKETS: Advance tickets $25, at the door $30INFO: 304-696-6656 or CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With just a few days left before the presidential election, singer/songwriter Nellie McKay isn't afraid to wade into the fray. The 30-year-old, who performs Sunday on "Mountain Stage" in Huntington, sounded annoyed that the choice for president really comes down to just two candidates. She said, "To paraphrase George Carlin, you go to the grocery store and you have 64 choices for bagel, but you only get two choices for president?"McKay, who recently released her fifth full-length album, "Home Sweet Mobile Home," has always been political and wears her views pinned to her sleeve -- or tied to her cleverly constructed song. She's a feminist and interested in social justice, the environment and world peace.However, McKay isn't entirely sure the two "major" candidates running are interested in the same things she is. At least, they're not interested in them to the same degree she is.It's kind of depressing, she said, and some of that depression seeps into her new record. From song to song, she jauntily bounces from style to style, but there's an underlying sense of unease and discontent. The fun and bright music sometimes comes with deep shadows.
"I recorded part of 'Home Sweet Trailer Park' in Jamaica," she said. "I thought most of it would be recorded in the Caribbean, but it ended up being a mishmash of songs recorded everywhere."That's not a bad thing to McKay, who likes the diversity."I've always liked movie soundtracks," she said. "They tend to jump genres a lot. I like it, but I'm not sure most people do."
McKay also took some inspiration from experimental rock and world beat musician David Byrne, a founding member of the Talking Heads. He gave her a bag full of records, many of them from South American artists and people she said he's worked with."It was wonderful inspiration, but I'm only about halfway through the bag."He's a real gentleman," she added.As far as the two guys running for election, she thinks they are more or less nice, too. She just has a hard time finding a lot to like about either of them.McKay doesn't particularly agree with either candidate's policies on hydro-fracking, defense spending or taxation, which she thinks should be stopped, cut and raised, but McKay acknowledged that Obama is probably closer to what she believes in."I think, of the likely contenders, that Obama is the best we've got," she said, but she sounded disappointed and said there were alternatives.
McKay said, "I tuned in to Amy Goodman [of 'Democracy Now!'] and she extended the debates to the third party candidates. I find it so refreshing to hear Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party. I'm even glad Roseanne [Barr] threw her hat in the ring out in California."She wishes the election weren't narrowed down to just two.Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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