Friday, 28 August 2009
This blog has moved to http://mariancall.wordpress.com. Older entries remain here for your enjoyment (and they are enjoyable). See you on the interwebs or at a show!
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
To finish off my 6-month western U.S. tour successfully, and to help compensate for some unexpected very hard times, and because so many of you asked how you could help: here's the game plan. I asked you what you wanted, and you told me, so here it is:
T-shirts, stickers, and other merch are finally in the pipeline. There will be some terrifically funny ones -- in fact, folks at the new (& growing) LiveJournal fan page will get to vote on some of the initial designs next week. Volvos and Zombie Cheerleaders and Donuts and Mosquitoes are featured. Stay tuned for links to the new merch store.
CD's now available in bulk -- businesses, nonprofits, clubs, or individuals can resell Vanilla to make an extra buck. Buy for $8 via Paypal, sell for $15 (or whatever price you like), minimum of 5. Get them all autographed for an extra dollar per unit. Convention-goers take notice! E-mail for details or to order.
Specialty items on sale for a short time:- Professional archival prints of one of four Brian Adams photographs, autographed by Brian & Marian, custom message if you like. These are gorgeous. $65 +S&H (value $125). Order before April 15th. Click & scroll down to view available photos & details
- The last 15 prints of Marian's very first full-color poster, designed for the release of Vanilla, autographed with the message or show date of your choice. *This is the poster design with notes from my first fans' myspace comments.* Only $10 plus shipping. Ships rolled, not folded. Click & scroll down to view & order
- Seats at a private dinner with Marian in Los Angeles, CA on April 22nd or in Austin, TX on May 14th. Dinner at a vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurant is included (though alcoholic beverages are not). This event will only take place if 4 or more fans purchase tickets to each meal; $60 per head includes dinner & concert. Click & scroll down for details
A very small eBay auction with very special items:
This auction will take place at the end of March on eBay. Photos of all these items and full details for each will be available before the start of the auction.
- A Limited Malcolm Reynolds stunt pistol by Quantum Mechanix, with certificate of authenticity, together with a print of the photo "Aim to Misbehave" by Brian Adams. Both the gun and the photo will be autographed by Marian and the photo back can have the handwritten message of your choice.
- Two gorgeous handmade "Maid Marian" wood carvings (I own the third), featuring my alter ego from the cover of Vanilla with her badass sword and cell phone. Autographed with a personal message on the back. Made from Premium American Cherry wood by fan @edrafalko. Click to view
- Hand-written, framed lyrics to "Dark Dark Eyes" and "Good Old Girl" on stamped handmade paper (2 items). Yes, it will be my handwriting. Yes, my handwriting is pretty.
- The original chicken-scratch drafts of four Marian Call songs as a set, all handwritten, messy, and with rejected original lyrics. These are less pretty, but more collectible, as they can never be duplicated.
Freebie for all participants: ...Because I love you and I love giving stuff away, everyone who purchases ANY of the specialty items or bids on an auction item (even if you don't win) will also receive a free MP3 only available directly from me: my track "Vanilla" with audio commentary.
If you bid in the auction, even if you don't win, I'll send you (as an MP3) the same audio clip you might hear if you call my phone and get my voicemail. It's sung a capella:
Thank you for calling, leamme a message pleasePerfect to put on your voicemail message, or, if you're into a capella vocal ringtones, it works for that too. It's a free audio phone toy snippet thing.
Tell me what day and what month and what year it is
'Cause I'm not here, no baby, I'm not home
The lights are on for sure, but maybe the occupants have flown
I'll catch you later lo-ove, uh-oh, goodbye.
Last but not least, since so many of you asked:
The Donors' CircleI think of the Donors' Circle as my very own Zombie Cheerleaders -- they keep me rolling and keep me independent, and they own my music in a very real sense. I'm accountable to them to keep the art coming, and to keep it real and meaningful.
Right now I'm inviting folks who are interested to purchase shares of my next album. It won't come out for a little while yet; I'll start recording this winter with a scheduled release in spring. I want to take a nice long time to really make this album what it can be. But it's never too early to start getting people on board, because I'm laying the groundwork right now. This is not an investment you make expecting a financial return -- it's an investment you make because, for you, the return is the art itself, and it's not possible without your participation. Some things you fund because you want them to exist. Shares start at $200 with different levels of commitment -- and you can pay in small monthly installments if you want. *Any specialty item or auction purchase this spring will count towards the purchase of a share if you wish to do both.*
There will be major perks to being part of the donors' circle as I start the next album, including preview tracks, commentary, VIP concert treatment, blooper recording reels, and more. For more details on the perks, the new album, and the donors' circle, click here for an explanation and scroll all the way to the bottom. It's easy to donate or subscribe to a small monthly amount via Paypal. Good art is worth it.
Thursday, 19 March 2009
see relatedDear faithful wonderful folks:
Due to some of the frustrating limitations and expenses of xanga.com, I will be moving this blog (finally) over to MarianCall.WordPress.com. The link is http://mariancall.wordpress.com. From that site you can stream the blog to your RSS reader easily.
If you are receiving these updates by e-mail, unfortunately WordPress does not do that automatically. You can set your RSS reader up to do that, though. Ask your favorite geek for help setting you up with that if you want.
And I will always put a link to the latest blog in my mothly e-mail updates.
The next two or three entries will still appear here, with reminders of the virtual address change. But after a little while the blog will move fully to its new home.
Thank you for reading! Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
Friday, 06 February 2009
This American Life
see relatedI think a brief reintroduction is in order, since so many good people -- the sort with fabulous taste in wall decor and cool sunglasses -- have been dropping by my messy virtual pad lately.
I'm trying to use fewer words to say more, so Twitter is my medium of choice lately. Brevity is the soul of twit, as @brentspiner reminds us. Let's see if I've made any progress in that department:
Hi! I'm Marian, and I'm a lexiholic. I was inspired and raised outside Seattle, humbled for four years at Stanford, and tempered for five years in Alaska, which is where I currently live.
In answer to your questions, yes, Alaska is in some ways: big, cold, hot, dark, light, part of the U.S.A., beautiful, bothersome, expensive, life-threatening, picturesque, and picaresque.
No, Alaska is not: entirely civilized, entirely wilderness, all hippies, all rednecks, vampire-infested, backwards (that would be Aksala, silly). I cannot see Russia from downtown Anchorage, though I do occasionally see the Russian Mafia, if that helps. I aim to please.
I live with my husband @Mr_Call in a forty-foot vintage converted Greyhound bus called the Millennium Tortoise. We travel a great deal in our continuing quest to learn just how much the government hates people without an actual street address. Should you find our bus in your neighborhood, that means you should come hear a concert somewhere nearby! (But please do not drop by our house uninvited. Send flowers first.)
I make music. That is to say, I write, arrange, rehearse, perform, record, edit, release, package, and promote these little acoustic ditties I like. Some are funny, some are sad, most are (like me) a little nerdy, a little shy, and embarrassingly enthusiastic just beneath the surface. If you want some background music while you browse, here's a free streaming playlist of my stuff at imeem.com. To buy music, visit iTunes or my website for other options.
Someday I would like to meet you at a live show (because the shows are much better than the recordings, and the recordings are good). Then I shall sing you a song and hopefully make you laugh or sigh, and help you feel +1 better than you did. Because that's what I do. And all I want is to keep doing it.***********
I know that as a Washingtonian -- as an Alaskan -- as an indie musician -- as a Stanford grad -- as a geek -- I'm sort of obligated to dislike L.A. But I just can't. I really enjoy it there, and I love going back. It's funny, fabulous, scary, intimidating, hollow, pretentious, lascivious, riddled with scandal, and everything else it's purported to be. In other words, it's endlessly entertaining.
Maybe I enjoy it because the circles I choose to move in there. I've done some celebrity spotting, never deliberately -- but mostly I prefer to spend my time with writers, indie musicians, nerds, geeks, and the sorts of filmmakers or actors who love film more than they love themselves. I guess that's a good guiding principle everywhere: find people who love what they do, and are humbled and thrilled to be doing it, and you'll be in good company.
We drove the Millennium Tortoise down I-5 to spend a whole month in SoCal last November. Just a month before we had schooled the Al-Can Highway, which means we suffered eight days of potholes, frost heaves, and bison in the roads. I can now say with confidence that the last stretch of I-5, north of L.A., is much worse than the barely-paved Yukon. We lost dishes to the bumps in the last mountain pass. I think it broke our computer/TV a little, because it developed selective amnesia after that painful ride.
Since I know you were curious, here are some alternate names for the Millennium Tortoise, thanks to my father, who loves to pester me by sending me anagrams. He e-mailed me the following recently:
Millennium Tortoise =
Run on, timeliest limo!
may your timeliest limo run on in safety, brave ones!
Enormous little Mini
Mini compared to some things, I suppose. Like, say, Texas.
Ennui limits tremolo
This has actually not been my experience.
Inuit Tremolo miles
as opposed to normal miles -- you Alaskans do everything differently.
No sluttier lion mime
There is no sluttier lion mime than you, my dear
I, Mister Onion Mullet
Scented mullet. Mmmmmmm.
and, for shorter trips around town:
I, nine mile Motorslut.
Upon arriving in the L.A. area with a somewhat busted bus (good band name!), we started the hunt for somewhere -- anywhere -- to park a forty-foot bus. Normally it's just a matter of finding a strip mall or Walmart or campground or a friend's driveway. Oh, I hear some of you even now laughing at our naivetë -- but please keep in mind this simple rule: most of what you know now, you know because you learned it too late for the first time you needed to know it. Can someone say that last bit better, please?
What we now know is this: there is nowhere, but nowhere to park an R.V. in L.A. We looked for days. No Walmart, no Target, Ralph's chased us out, the beach is not public parking, the suburbs are metered. There are RV parks which cost $60 per night, but they wouldn't allow us to stay for more than X number of nights. Plus, the whole point of bringing the bus was to stay cheap-or-free and save on hotels. Our mistake.
So we drove around a lot more than we wanted to, getting knocks on our door and being politely or not-so-politely asked to leave this or that public space for which we'd already paid. We're a NiMBy. You should've seen (or rather heard) the disapproval of other drivers when we took the bus on the road. I think the Prius drivers were honking at us to shame us for our unburned hydrocarbons, and the Escalade drivers were honking because they suddenly felt inadequate and vulnerable for the first time.
(A note about fuel consumption, BTW: I know it smells bad to drive behind us, but dude, we've cut our energy consumption and environmental footprint to a fraction of yours. Plus we're recycling and reusing, in the truest sense. So sell your condo and live in your car before you honk at us, hybrids. (Feel free to continue honking at Escalades, though, as this amuses me and they're easy targets. (Also, everybody take turns nesting parentheses, because it's good fun.)))
BUT parking issues notwithstanding, at every little venue, our little half-hour set completely dominated. I have my underage guitarist and my brilliant drummer to thank for that, partially. In every show, at every venue, we were the ones who wound up with e-mail list signups and album sales and eager handshakes from venue owners and low whistles from otherwise apathetic patrons. Our songs made people shut up and laugh and cry. Mission accomplished!
We made no money at any of the shows. But by the end of the tour, my online sales of Vanilla -- sales from around the world, not L.A. -- had increased tenfold, and only slowed a little after the holiday. If that makes any sense to you, you have my admiration. But I'm happy, because means I'm a step or two closer on the road to solvency. And I'm sure our unpaid tour was connected to a bigger online presence.
I'm eager to come back to LA and SD, because we met so many great people there. We were even thrown a kickin' Rock Band party by the San Diego Browncoats. (N.B. we will play Rock Band with almost anyone, anywhere. And no, don't give me the microphone. If you do, I will use my opera voice for everything. It's guitar, drums, or opera; those are your choices.)
You're fabulous, L.A. Stay hilarious, stay unfriendly, stay dramatic, keep your bluster, keep bristling with possibility, keep smashing dreams. Only next time -- let us park our fabulous vintage luxury Alaskan bus. Please?
Photos at http://flickr.com/mariancall.
Highlights from the Creation Con & my Got to Fly CD release in the next blog. This one's too long already!
Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Thelonius Monk - Straight No Chaser
see relatedI am top of somebody's list! O frabjous day!
Wildy's World, a blog that reviews 500+ indie releases per year, decided that Vanilla merited the #1 slot for 2008. I'm more than a little flabbergasted. Here's his original review and here's the entry he posted today to finish his top 40 countdown. I really, really needed this encouragement right now. Things are looking very good for the New Year. Joy!
I'm currently in northern CA and heading back to the Northwest, and then to Barrow, Alaska. In January. Yes, on purpose. I'm actually thrilled. No, I won't let vampires or polar bears eat me. Then more Seattle and Tacoma -- Wayward, Mandolin, Borders in Gig Harbor, and more -- then some Anchorage for Valentine's Day. /location update
So I know you don't need more year-end lists, but this is not a list. This is a Mix CD. I actually make this mix CD for my family every year -- I started making mix tapes every Christmas at age 11. I think the first one had Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Quincy Jones, and the King's Singers on it.
If I could make you all a mix CD for 2008, the theme would be "Amazing acts we heard live this year whom you should really hear live too." I had a one-concert-per-week rule that applied to a lot of 2008. And this is what I heard: awesome. Many shows left us shaking our heads and feeling changed. Yesssssssssss! was what we said and thought and felt. Live music makes life good.
So here's the list of songs/artists I couldn't live without this year, and they are really, really worth investigating. Just pick one description that appeals to you and go to their myspace page or website, and listen to one song. That one listen makes a difference. If you see one of these names coming through your area, get out and see them -- your life will be better.*
1. "Like a Juliet" and "Rainbow as My Hat" by The Second Grace
A band from Italy that I want to listen to any time of day or night. Their disc is all scratched now from going everywhere with me. I heard them at a Farmer's Market in Austin, and their self-titled album is one of my favorites of this year.
2. "Hillbilly Heroin" by The Whipsaws
A truly great bar band, best experienced live in Alaska -- though anywhere else will do. Music made by kids who grew up spending time in bush Alaska picking bluegrass and listening to Pearl Jam.
3. "Three Deaths" by Shaun Cromwell
I heard Shaun Cromwell at Cafe Bellissimo in Los Angeles, and immediately fell for his music. Imagine the very best tracks from "O Brother Where Art Thou" with a slightly more modern harmonic vocabulary. This track makes people stop what they're doing and ask who's playing when it comes on.
4. "Jesus Saves, I Spend" by St. Vincent
This is from my favorite album of this year. I have a very short list of perfect albums, and <i>Marry Me</i> by St. Vincent is on it. That said, it's better for folks who enjoy slightly surreal production values and dramatic writing.
5. "Bulletproof" by Rilo Kiley
We like lots of Rilo Kiley and Jenny Lewis, but their innocent little ditties like this are my favorites. "If you think I'm paranoid, that's fine, 'cause I have evidence on my side..."
6. "Might Not be Love" by Raina Rose
I followed Raina Rose to a couple of her gigs in Austin, because though I heard a lot of great female singer-songwriters at SxSW, she really stood out -- sweet & sincere, with an angelic voice and lovely rhymes.
7. "Skateland South" by Cory Branan
Cory, from Memphis, has to be seen live (and solo acoustic) to be believed. His guitar playing is alarmingly aggressive, his singing and use of the mic shockingly raw, his lyrics and song construction oh so right. He's like the burn of Tennessee whiskey, utterly painful and intoxicating.
8. "Club Thing" by Yoav
A discovery from a Paste Magazine mix. I'm normally not much for songs like this, but I kept putting this track on repeat in my car for some reason. I think you'll understand why if you listen to it once.
9. "Born to Hum" by Erin McKeown
Erin is such a fine performer, and I'm so happy she came to Alaska. It would be hard to leave one of her shows feeling anything but joy and enthusiasm for life, even when it's rocky. Seeing her live gave me hope that I could enter this profession.
10. "Boy with a Coin" by Iron & Wine
Iron & Wine refuses to get less interesting. I loved "Our Many Numbered Days," but I love even more the way they've changed since, and the folks they've collaborated with to deliver a marvelous new album.
11. "This Too Shall Pass" by Danny Schmidt
We spent a long weekend with Danny Schmidt in Talkeetna at Wheat Stalk, Whole Wheat Radio's 3-day festival (though I'd seen him in Austin too during SxSW). His poet/philosopher songs are mind-bendingly clever, and his performances haunting. Plus he made me a damn fine gin martini. Thanks, Danny.
12. "Wir Singen Dir, Immanuel" performed by the Baltimore Consort
I have a thing for early music, and when all the dreadful Christmas crap starts coming over the airwaves during this time of year, I turn to the Baltimore Consort. Their album "Bright Day Star" is possibly my favorite Christmas album ever, along with "O Magnum Misterium" by Stephen Layton & Polyphony.
13. "Stone Cold World" by Caroline Herring
Caroline Herring, from Georgia, has one of the prettiest vibratos on the planet. I got to hear her live at the Cactus Café in Austin, but I've admired her agile Southern songbird voice (and writing) for years. This song is from her newest album.
14. "Gasoline Stain" by Lindsay Jane
Hailing from Winnipeg, Lindsay is very strong and no-nonsense in performance, but her sweet voice and vulnerable lyrics are altogether lovely. I bought her CD after hearing her sing only one song, and it stayed in my CD player for a long while.
15. "If Your Mama Knew" by Jim Bianco
I knew we were in for something good when the stage at Hotel Café in LA was cleared of whiny young indie rockers and handed over to the middle-aged, relaxed, capable, entirely rockin' band of Jim Bianco. We hooted, hollered, stomped, and clapped 'til we hurt. See this man soon. He'll make your stomach hurt from the awesome.
16. "Trouble" by Rachael Sage
I played a show with Rachael at Whole Wheat Radio, and it was really an honor -- she's very hardworking and well-known in the indie music world. She came in from New York, and looked a little out of place in muddy Talkeetna. But she's truly an entertainer. (Plus, she lent me her boa.)
17. "So Many Nights" by The Cat Empire
Another song that went on repeat in my car this fall, because it was completely irresistible. I call this song "Put Your Waistcoat On," because it's about a guy who decides to dress up nice for his girl and get her tickets to the opera. Boys, I hope you're taking notes...
18. "The Girl You Lost to Cocaine" and "Academia" by Sia
I usually don't like girls with whiny superstar voices, but Sia won me over completely with her musical choices -- and with the way she really seems to be having fun singing, not showing off, and certainly never whining. Plus, she has my favorite album cover of the year.
19. "Stood for Stand for" and "Wouldn't it be Nice" by Alyse Black
I heard Alyse at an open mic in Austin, and her voice just stuck with me. I traded albums with her, and I'm so glad that I did -- I can't wait to see what else she puts out, because if she finds the right producer, her lovely voice is bottled potential.
20. "Pick Yourself Up" by Evan Phillips
When you're feeling tired, melancholy, even a little sad, put this song on without hesitation. It just doesn't get old. Evan is from Alaska and fronts The Whipsaws, but I love his solo work too and his current project with Tim Easton and Leroy Stagger.
21. "Crane Song" (Live) by Pamyua
You may not have heard of Pamyua, but they've won a Grammy, swept the Nammys, and toured the world several times over. They're Anchorage's own Eskimo funk band, and they're a blast to hear live. Even Alaskans dance to the deeply funky digeridu playing.
22. "Getting Better" by Bob Schneider
Bob Schneider and the Texas Bluegrass Massacre blew my mind, as they are wont to do, at a concert in Austin. This song kicks off every road trip we take, including most trips to and from the grocery store.
[[[I've also been asked several times about Christmas music. I love Christmas music and I have a lot of it. Here's Christmas music that doesn't suck, some popular, some obscure:
All "Songs for Christmas" collections by Sufjan Stevens
"Christmas with Julie Andrews & André Previn"
"In the Town of David" by Keyes/La Grand/Zimmerman
"Bright Day Star" by the Baltimore Consort
"O Magnum Misterium: Twentieth Century Carols" by Polyphony, conducted by Stephen Layton (this choral album permanently changed my musical landscape, Christmas or no)
"Holly Days & Mistletoe," the Christmas compilation by Hear Music
"Hook" soundtrack by John Williams (if you must have some dramatic orchestral music)
And of course the Bach Cello Suites and Beethoven or Haydn string quartets never go amiss.]]]
*We did not see all of these people this year, only most.
**These are in playlist order, not ranked in any way.
***Not all of these fit on one CD. There were a couple of variants on the playlist.
****No, I don't feel bad making a mix CD, because it's a time-honored tradition, and because I would be proud to have one of my tunes on one of your mix CD's someday, just as long as it's only for family and a few close friends. That said, no need to report me to the cops...
*****I meant to link to all these people, and maybe in a universe where I have lots more time, I will come back and fix it. But I want to post it more than I want to post it perfectly. So use Google and locate yourself some good tuneage.
Not sexy, but hopeful. This profile is not personally maintained -- to make contact, visit facebook or twitter.