Tags: activities, bad astronomer, children, concert, event, family, field day, geek, george hrab, Joseph Scrimshaw, Ken Plume, kids, Labor Day, marian-call, molly lewis, NASA, nerd, phil plait, rocket, rocketfest, science, science education, skeptic, skeptics, space camp, w00tstock
I am doing a very special thing this week. I have been excited about it for months. But I have not communicated my excitement to you guys yet.
ON LABOR DAY I AM GOING TO SPACE CAMP.
I am taking with me some of my favorite people: Molly Lewis, Ken Plume, Joseph Scrimshaw, Phil Plait, George Hrab. We are trucking over from Dragon*Con Monday morning. We are there going to present the live audience in Huntsville, AL with a variety show of terrifically geeky sciencey entertainment, and we will be streaming the show LIVE FROM SPACE CAMP TO YOU.
Here’s the why of this event. It’s a fundraiser for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Scholarship Foundation. That’s a fancy way of saying we’re raising money to send more kids to Space Camp. There will be stuff you can order, special goodies from Thinkgeek and Space Camp, and everyone who donates $10 or more online during the live stream will be entered to win a bigger prize from Thinkgeek. (Thank you Thinkgeek!) Of course you can just donate too, that’s an option anytime at http://spacecamp.com/rocketfest. But I hope that during this livestream we can flood the gates a little. I want to demonstrate to the folks at USS&RC that the internet is full of people who want to support them.
When I was young, I was totally the scholarship kid at horse camp. I begged and begged my parents, but they couldn’t afford it. When I finally got to take my swim test, saddle up for early morning trail rides, and take my first crack at archery, it was thanks to anonymous strangers who helped to provide scholarships. So there’s a big soft spot in me where summer camp is concerned. It’s not just camp, it’s a big deal for a kid. It’s CAMP.
And this is not just CAMP, it’s SPACE CAMP.
Science has been on my mind this year. I know, I’m a liberal arts nerd, I don’t have much right to step into the science nerd realm. [Insert rant about the overstated divide between “fuzzy” and “techie” and how early a girl is forced to choose.] But in light of Curiosity’s landing, our little Mars invasion — and in light of the shuttle’s last landing and Sally and Neil leaving us — I feel more and more urgency about science education.
No, not education, excitement. Science Excitement needs to become a national priority. We need a tiny bit of moon landing feeling back. A few of us experienced an incredible thrill as Curiosity landed. I want to know how to spread that feeling, to make it more universal and less niche. Because that sentiment is what would help to reorient the U.S. toward invention, discovery, research and development as a public prerogative.
I feel strongly about this (and I’m late to the game, I know, a lot of you have been fighting this fight for decades). And I don’t know how I can do anything to change national sentiment as an individual. But this seemed like a good little place for a singer-songwriter to start. So here I go.
On Labor Day I hope you’ll tune your computer to SpaceCamp.com at 2pm Central and watch our little show, have a look at Rocket Park, even if it’s just on in the background while you barbecue on the deck.
And if you are within driving distance of Huntsville, I’m talking to you Dragon*Con attendees, consider bringing the family out for the day — Space Camp is throwing a field day from 10am-5pm, complete with rocket launches and bubbles and science demos. The price of admission gets you our show and everything else in Rocket Park. How cool is that? Come sit on the lawn and have a picnic among rockets and be entertained. We definitely need a live audience, so bring the kids and come play. Make a pilgrimage to Space Camp! Especially if you’ve never been. You know you want to!
Last: please, tell everyone. Tell the whole internet. This is just a little tiny thing but let’s get some eyeballs on it. I’ve worked hard to pull it together and I really hope it will be half as beautiful as in my head. Point people to info at http://spacecamp.com/rocketfest, and RSVP or share the Facebook event here. If you can possibly blog about this or otherwise publicize it — DO. The official press release is below.
Stars and stars and stars to all of you — writing from Cincinatti at 3am between concerts –
P.S. If you are in Huntsville or Atlanta, and you could Minion for me and the other entertainers, we need two volunteers to come along and help out for the day. We can provide round-trip transport from Atlanta, and lunch. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in going to Space Camp to help. Sound/web/social media skills a plus, we’ll need some of that. Loving Space Camp a double plus.
LABOR DAY 2012
When: Monday, September 3, 2012, 9am – 5pm, entertainment at 2pm Central
Where: U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL, streaming live at http://spacecamp.com
What: Rocketfest, a fun filled day of music and family entertainment
On Monday, September 3, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center will host ROCKETFEST. With your paid admission to the Space Center on Labor Day, the whole family can enjoy a fun-filled day. There will be family activities on site like rocket launches, bubbles and science demonstrations; attendees can win prizes from Thinkgeek and enjoy a special concert and variety show in the park.
The entertainment lineup (2pm) will feature nationally renowned musicians George Hrab, Molly Lewis, and Marian Call, along with science and geek culture icons Phil Plait the Bad Astronomer, Ken Plume and Joseph Scrimshaw. All entertainment will be exciting and family-friendly. The festival performance will be streamed LIVE on the web at http://spacecamp.com.
The event is a fundraiser for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center Scholarship Foundation. For more information or to donate, check out http://www.spacecamp.com/rocketfest.
The USSRC is home to Space Camp, Aviation Challenge, The Davidson Center for Space Exploration and world-class traveling exhibits. It is also the official visitor’s information center for NASA – Marshall Space Flight Center. To learn about all of the exciting programs and activities at the USSRC, go to www.rocketcenter.com. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a Smithsonian Affiliate.
Press Contact: Tim D. Hall, email@example.com (256) 701-0916
Tags: austin, boston, concert, dallas, geek, marian-call, Music, mythbusters, nerd, new york, paul and storm, revue, vaudeville, w00tstock, wil wheaton
It has come to our not-so-royal attention
that some of you in some of these very large cities
still do not have your golden tickets
to the Singular Inc0mparable Bizarre Nerd Revue Spectacular
known as #w00tstock.
The valid excuses that come to mind are Three, and I shall name them:
1. Perhaps you fear the side effects of being in such close physical proximity
to so many of the gods and demigods
of the Pantheon Of Internet Celebrities Who Are Celebrities Because
They Actually Do Cool Stuff
(the finest of the A, B, C, and D-lists will be in attendance).
AND YOU ARE RIGHT TO FEAR.
Your computer screens and smart phones
generally protect you from the full power of their collective blinding Awesome.
But think on this:
your little electronic barriers also insulate you
from the ensuing radiation-induced Superpowers
(and inevitable tragic alienation
and prolonged near-romance with a sexy investigative journalist)
that you’ve always dreamed of.
You’ll never know
if you don’t show.
2. Perhaps you have forgotten that not so very long ago
you begged and pleaded for w00tstock to come and for gods’ sake take the East Coast.
But now that it’s here, you mean to play hard-to-get
for fear w00tstock may not call you in the morning
if you are too easily conquered.
You shameless tease you.
3. Perhaps you do not know what a w00tstock is
but it’s happened a number of times already
and you are embarrassed to ask anymore,
so from time to time you just wait patiently
for everyone to quit bloody #hashtagging about it. #w00t #w00t #w00t
If this is the case,
If ignorance is your defense,
then you should ASK SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN THERE about the amazing.
(You are reading my blog on the Yntarnet right now, so I know you have time at this very moment to ask Twitter or Facebook. And this entry gives you blanket permission to come out and confess it. Say it with me, it’s difficult, but it feels good: “I have no idea what w00tstock is.” Ahhhh. Isn’t that better?)
It is unlike a con. It is unlike a concert. It is Nerd Vaudeville.
It is a Variety Show of interesting things that you never knew you were dying to see
like Chewbacca playing guitar and Marian in heels
and real mad scientists in Halloween costumes.
It is the unmatched synergy of the modern Superheroes and Sidekicks of Wit
at your service.
Short of picking your pockets personally
(a chore I’ve neither skill nor time for)
I cannot remedy your pathetic ticketless situation by force –
So I haunt street corners and plague subway cars
late at night, haggard, halitosid, attempting to foist on you
limp and possibly snotty pamphlets
detailing the amazements you will miss
if you stay home and watch “Doctor Who” episodes again
which you have already seen three times sober
(and once (or possibly twice) while intoxicated).
Here, transcribed, with only virtual snot, is the text of my dirty subway pamphlet:
THE W00TSTOCK IS NEAR! THE DAY IS APPROACHING!
PREPARE YOUR SOUL! (mandatory)
NEW YORK 10.29.10 //// COSTUME BALL!
BOSTON 10.31.10 //// COSTUME BALL!
AUSTIN 11.02.10 //// just a regular ball!
DALLAS 11.03.10 //// just the other regular ball!
REASONS TO ATTEND (mandatory):
Paul F. Tompkins
Bill Amend of Foxtrot
Bill Corbett & Kevin Murphy of Rifftrax & MST3K
Drew Curtis of Fark.com
Marc Abrahams of the Ig Nobel Prizes
Jason Finn of the POTUSA
Mary Jo Pehl
Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse
And, presiding over all proceedings like the flaming Eye of Sauron,
THE UNDEAD SPIRIT OF @WILW*
Get tickets now or settle in for the looooong, dark wait for another thing half this exciting to occur. It will be a while — even for you, New York. (mandatory)
Humbly submitted for your review on too little sleep and too much coffee,
*Not physically in attendance. But technically speaking, “Undead” is an accurate description of @wilw at this writing.
Upcoming Marian Call shows, details and RSVP info at http://mariancall.com:
10/29 w00tstock, New York, NY
10/30 House Concert, Holden MA
10/31 w00tstock, Boston MA
11/1 Tommy Doyle’s, Cambridge MA
11/2 House Concert, Concord NH
11/3 House Concert, Montreal QC
11/4 House Concert, Ottawa ON
11/5 House Concert, Kitchener ON
11/7 Evil Squirrel Comics, Chicago IL (tickets required, http://mariancall.com)
11/9 Dunn Bros. Coffee Co., Roseville MN
Tags: booking, concert, house-concert, house-concerts, how-to, marian-call, Music, show, singer-songwriter, tour
**NOTE: This is an awesome blog post, but it is out of date! Instead, see this page for updated 2013 show booking notes! The writing below is wonderful but also it is a historical document from early 2010. There’s an updated version that is very much the same. New info: http://mariancall.wordpress.com/booking-a-house-concert/**
My 2010 tour will consist primarily of house concerts. Yet most of my listeners have never attended a house concert. Even fewer have hosted. So what’s the deal? Here’s the deal.
Let’s go back in time, back to the millenia before television brought Mick Jagger at halftime into your living room through a glowy blue box. If you wanted live music, you had to make it happen in your own house, yard, church, pub, temple, piazza, or outhouse. The best modern equivalent is a house concert. I’m not saying those old days were better, but I am saying it’s probably been too long since you’ve listened to fantastic music up close and live in a quiet environment — that’s a transformative experience. It’s way different than going out, way different than listening to MP3’s, way different than anything the glowy blue box can bring you. And you still make it happen.
I’ve played dozens and dozens of house concerts now, and 90% of them were with hosts who had never organized a house concert before. So don’t say you can’t do it — you can! It’s entirely simple, cheap for everyone, friendly, fun, environmentally smart, economically smart — and the food and alcohol are way better and cheaper than what you get going out.
How does it work? You contact an artist, set a date, get them your address, invite your friends by e-mail and take RSVP’s, plan for food or drinks (if you want to), and then I show up, set up my gear, and play for you!
Things prospective house concert hosts ALWAYS say to me:
- “I’d love to, but my house is too small.” EVERY host says this at first. No, it’s not. I’ve done house concerts for 5 people in a tiny cabin in Alaska and for 25 in an even smaller crowded standing-room-only flat in Hollywood, with everyone shoulder-to-shoulder. I’ve even played a dorm room. Your house can fit way more people than you think.
- “I’ve never done anything like that before.” You probably have. Take any kind of house party you can think of — a drunken BYOB bash, a child-friendly family potluck, a birthday party with presents, a backyard BBQ, a fancy wine and cheese event — and just imagine that the theme of the afternoon/evening is music. The artist (me) will provide absolutely everything related to the music part of the show; all you do is put on a very normal party, invite people, set out drinks, and wait for all of us to show up.
- “I don’t know if I want strangers in my house.” No need to have any (besides me). You can have a private event, just for your friends and family. Or you can host it at a local community center, school, place of worship, park, swimming pool — anywhere! People get all sorts of creative, using these concerts for fundraisers, community events, conventions, kids’ time, etc. The host sets the parameters.
- “It will take so much time!” Well, it can, but it doesn’t have to. I’ve played some elaborate, carefully coordinated house concerts, and some that the hosts just let happen. Potlucks and BBQ’s, especially, are low-to-no maintenance and take only a few e-mails to coordinate. To get everything you need to compose the invitation and promote the show, see the “Publicity Tools” tab above.
- “My place is a mess.” Everyone says this, and everyone is lying. By the time I arrive you’ve usually scrambled for thirty minutes and made it look lovely. (If you need an excuse to clean up, this would be it…)
- “You can’t come to my town, I’m out of the way.” People who contact me and ask nicely usually get me to come sooner or later. If you’re out of the way, just guarantee me a certain number of people in attendance, or a certain amount of money (surprisingly little) and I’ll make it happen. As long as I don’t lose money coming to your town, I will probably be game!
- “Wow, that was amazing and special and unforgettable. And it was so much easier than I thought!” I hear this Every. Single. Time.
Most hosts and guests are thrilled by their first house concert. Get out to one in your area if you want an idea of how they go! There are lots of normal folks like you beginning to host monthly or quarterly concerts because they’ve found it’s so easy, fun, and memorable. Artists love to be asked to do house concerts — after the bars-and-cafes grind, they’re a pleasure. Your favorite local artist would probably be thrilled to play one for you. Why not ask? Ask me anytime: visit this blog entry to actually request a concert, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions.*
Answers to FAQ’s are below if you’re thinking of hosting. If you’ve hosted or attended a house concert before, do leave your thoughts in the comments!
- What do I need to provide? Just some comfortable space where people can stand or sit and mingle, and later listen attentively to music. Consider what your sort of crowd would be comfortable with. You also need to provide at least some of the people — most house concerts are populated by the host’s friend and social circle, though occasionally one will be promoted as a public event and I will invite other fans to RSVP.
- What’s the food and drink situation? This is completely up to you. I’ve played at fully catered gourmet dinners, potlucks, barbecues, desserts, wine tastings, and even afternoon or late evening events which had no real food — only beverages and cookies. Anything goes, as long as your guests are prepared for what to bring and what will be available.
- How does the event flow? Usually the event starts with about forty-five minutes to an hour of mingling and food and drink. When the moment feels right (or right on the clock, however you like it) you invite people to claim their space for the show, and I begin performing. I usually do two forty-five minute sets with a break (so as not to wear down guests’ attention span. I am very generous with my tunes; if folks are engaged I’ll go as long as the audience likes and do any and every request I can). During the show at some point, I invite people to give money, usually $10-15, and/or buy CD’s, and I leave it at that. The host can keep their hands clean of the money business for the most part; I’m used to doing it myself. After the show people mingle some more, in varying stages of sobriety, sometimes staying all night and sometimes going home right away. When everyone’s gone usually you and I crack one last beer or heat one last cup of tea and sigh and chat about how fun the evening was. Then I drive away (or sleep on your couch, depending) and provided your guests are the good kind, you’re left with minimal mess.
- How do I promote the event? Do I have to post my personal information on the internet? You can make your event private — only for people you know — or public. If it’s public, I will advertise it, but I will not post your name or address on the web unless you ask me to. Usually prospective guests can get the address in exchange for a firm RSVP by e-mail. (And my fans are awesome people that you’d want to meet anyway.) To get the word out, e-mail invites and a Facebook event usually do the trick; some folks use a service like evite, but I’ve almost never seen that go very well. The very best promotion in the world is word of mouth. If you’re excited, your friends will be too. I’m happy to help with a free MP3 for invitees, plus all the links and photos and posters you could want — or a spiffy e-mail/web invite like the one below. Plus I’m happy to give you CD’s and bonus things. House Concert hosts get Marian Call perks of all kinds — just ask!
UPDATED: for help writing an invitation or get official images, posters, etc., just click on the tab at the top of this page called “Publicity Tools.” Everything you need is there (scroll down to the bottom).
Things it’s important to clarify when you invite people: 1) this will be a house concert, not a house party, and the music is the feature event; 2) bring your own (chair, food, beer, kids, whatever they should bring, as people want to know); 3) whether kids are welcome, and if they are, whether childcare will be provided.
- What about the *gulp* money? Awkward… I understand completely. Asking guests for $$ is awful. If you mention it up front, in the e-mail invitation, it’s actually less awkward — and if you leave a basket at the door, instead of passing the hat, again, less awkward. People don’t like letting other people watch them pay. A good way to phrase the invitation is to say there’s a “$10-15 per person recommended donation for the artist, pay-as-you-can.” I’ll reinforce that with a friendly announcement that I’m used to making. I never begrudge folks coming and not paying, or paying less than $10. But I do have to make ends meet. So the idea is to prepare guests for what to expect before you’re speaking to them in person. I don’t require a minimum guarantee, unless I’m flying far afield, but if you think you might have less than 12-15 people, it’s good to tell me that directly, since that may affect what other shows I look for in the area or what date I book with you.
- Can I really do this? Absolutely! And to paraphrase most of my house concert hosts from around the country, it’s a fantastic and memorable and [insert many glowing adjectives here] experience. You’ll be so glad you did. So will I. I’m proud of you!
*To inquire about booking a house concert with me, visit this blog entry and follow the instructions. I don’t respond to Facebook or Myspace booking requests, nor Twitter DM’s; it’s not official booking business ’til it’s in my real inbox at email@example.com. Also: you may hear from an assistant of mine sometimes, but rest assured I’m overseeing all correspondence that goes on.
P.S.: this is an old invite for a show in 2009. But don’t worry Arizona, I’ll be visiting you in June!
***Update, by request: you can see my rough calendar dates on this Google calendar or at http://mariancall.com/tour.php. If you want me to come visit, tell some friends about me!***