High Five

Susan McKeown’s New York inspiration

Irish singer Susan McKeown comes to Johnny D’s on Jan. 11, 2013.
Irish singer Susan McKeown comes to Johnny D’s on Jan. 11, 2013.

How very modern and indicative of just how fluid music is: An Irish singer-songwriter makes a rootsy Americana album partly inspired by living in New York City.

“Then again, it might not be that modern because we’ve been coming here for years, us Irish, and making it our own,” says Susan McKeown . “I like to try a lot of different things, and this is what I’m trying at the moment.”

Ahead of McKeown’s show at Johnny D’s this weekend, we recently asked her about five places in New York that inspired her latest album, “Belong.”


1. Williamsburg Bridge “It doesn’t get as much attention as the other bridges, but it links two very colorful neighborhoods and it’s a not-very-long stroll across.”

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2. East River Ferry “It’s a must for everyone who lives here or visits. A lot of people take it to commute. It takes you out of the city and onto the water and right into nature.”

3. The Irish Hunger Memorial “Funnily enough, even though it’s called the Hunger Memorial, when my daughter was very small, it was one of my favorite places to take her to eat. I would get food at Whole Foods and take the subway down and push her in a stroller to the top of the memorial, and we would eat looking out at the Hudson River.”

4. The Elevated Acre “It’s a downtown secret garden. It’s at 55 Water St. If you go there, you see these elevators going up, and it gives you access to the East River. It’s another way to escape the city, though your feet never leave the ground.”

5. Housing Works Bookstore Café “In case it’s raining and you need to go in somewhere. It’s right down the street from the Magic Shop, which is where I mixed my [new] record. It’s a bookstore that supports people who need housing and all kinds of social programs.”


Susan McKeown performs at Johnny D’s on Friday, 7 p.m. Tickets: $25. 617-876-4275,