The Willard Grant Conspiracy opened McKee’s early show with their moody and spirit-infused brand of Americana. Accompanying singer Robert Fisher from WGC’s extended collective were Kirk Swan on guitar and LA Weekly writer Robert Lloyd on mandolin and accordion.
Highlights included “The Trials of Harrison Hayes,” “From a Distant Shore,” a song based upon a Civil War epistle called the Sullivan Ballou Letter, and “Flying Low,” which Fisher penned with the Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn.
McKee possesses a rapturous voice. Her delivery evokes such singers as Joan Baez and Emmylou Harris, but her melodramatic phrasings sometimes suggest The Man Who Sold The World-era Bowie or the lyric-elongating sailings into the mystic of her beloved Van Morrison.
Along with songs from her solo albums, including her newest release, Late December, she performed a song by Bryan MacLean, Love guitarist/songwriter and McKee’s half-brother, and a stirring cover of Neil Young’s “Barstool Blues.” McKee admitted to nerves as she made her way across the stage from guitar to piano and back again, but her between-song banter was endearing. By the time she belted out the classic Lone Justice tune “Shelter,” both singer and audience had found themselves right at home.