July 08 – Anchorage Rocks. Princess Cupcake?03/10/2009 at 9:27 pm | Posted in Just for Fun, Music, News & Explanations, Stories from Alaska | 1 Comment
Lemme tell you something about Anchorage. This place rocks.
Pardon my soapbox, but I have to say this. If you live in Anchorage and you’re not going to concerts, start. Now. It’s the absolute best entertainment for your money. You don’t need to go to New York or Austin or San Francisco to hear amazing music — it’s all here, just as good or better. There’s innovation and imagination and tradition and truly amazing skill crawling all over this town — I don’t want to hear of anyone being bored here ever again. I have been to going to a concert a week for a while now, and I am SOLD on Anchorage music.
Last week I went to a truly memorable show; it was as good as, if not better than, anything I’ve ever seen in the Lower 48. It was so good that I very nearly danced in public, which is a rare occurrence indeed. Thankfully the universe was spared that spectacle due to the lack of space. I just grooved a little, so no one was hurt.
The evening was a Who’s Who of singer-songwriters out of Anchortown. Lined up onstage were five terrific local boys, most notably Jared Woods and Sean Mormelo. They took turns playing songs in the round. It was fun, loud, moving, everything a show should be. Evan Phillips of the Whipsaws joined them late in the evening, and at the end of the night Rebel Blues, just back from Austin, stormed the stage featuring a young local prodigy of the blues guitar, Jesse “The Furnace” Ferman. I’ve never heard live blues that good anywhere. Not on NPR, not at Antone’s, nowhere.
Last month I had the privilege of playing in the first annual Spenard Jazz Fest, coordinated by the illustrious Yngvil Vatn Guttu. She had a whole day of concerts lined up at Organic Oasis. I was initially worried about two things: 1) the quality of the music, and 2) the size of the crowd. How many people would come out for all-original jazz? And would the jazz be worth coming out for? But I should not have been nervous on either count. It was standing room only from 3pm until after midnight — the crowd drank the restaurant out of beer and wine, and the kitchen was slammed. And as for the music, well, I would have been proud to be a part of that lineup of performers in any city in the world. (And by the way — the Spenard Jazz Fest will be happening again in 2009. Keep an eye out!)
I am really proud to live here — I plan on staying, even if I have to travel a lot to make ends meet. And I have a sneaking suspicion that all of you Outsiders will start hearing whispers about the music scene coming out of Anchorage within the next couple of years. Our homegrown acts are already big on the national scene (witness the Whipsaws in Paste this month!). This is truly a worthy city. It’s good to be on the edge of the frontier.
By the way, happy birthday, Alaska. We became a state fifty years ago. Way over the hill!
Firefly fans, I have huge news. That I can’t disclose yet. But the secret’s killin’ me here. I actually put off this blog in hopes of being able to make an announcement, but to no avail. Stay tuned for something awesome.
The Song of the Month this month is a very special one — it’s for Princess Cupcake, my MySpace friend Stephanie. She invited me to play at her birthday party, and I couldn’t resist rustling up something silly for the occasion. Since I had to write it before I met Stephanie, though, I used my imagination for some of it. Though don’t we all know a princess?
(Yes, there are two versions of the song — one for everybody, and one for those who are familiar with the details of Stephanie’s deep and abiding devotion to James Gunn and Nathan Fillion. I couldn’t decide which version to release, so both are available for 49 cents on Snocap. And that solves that.)
Photo by Brian Adams, of course. We had fun shooting this. It’s ever-so-slightly creepy, because it’s so not me. I would not don clothing like this for anyone besides you, Stephanie. You know how I hate pink. That’s how much I love you, babe.
“Trobairitz” is the early French feminine of the word “Troubadour,” and I’ve always thought that I might have been a trobairitz if I’d lived in Medieval France. This is one of the many reasons for the chick on the cover of “Vanilla,” by the way. Trobairitz entertained royal courts and wealthy families as well as common folks — they had to be proficient in all the arts and several languages, they had to know sacred and secular songs in every style, they were usually educated and well-traveled, they probably coordinated the entertainment for feasts and holidays, and they told stories and wrote songs for all sorts of occasions. I felt very much like I was preparing to play for the royal court as I was writing this tune. (…Oh dear. As I read this paragraph I see my Stanford is showing. Sorry. Hopefully you’ve read the Nerd Disclaimer from an earlier blog.)
Everyone knows a Princess. I know quite a few. And I love them very much. I don’t think I will ever be one, but I have to admire the self-possession of women who have a certain degree of assurance about their place in the world: in charge.
I now have enough new songs — excluding songs of the month, past and future — to record four more albums. Will any wealthy patrons of the arts kindly step forward?
The amount of work behind this music is staggering, let there be no doubt. The quest for the ultimate goal — solvency — is a massive undertaking. I’ve got an amazing crew of people helping me. And I’ve only been at it since September, when I released my first album and played my first show ever at Side Street. Now I’m headlining a handful of Alaskan music festivals, as in Saturday night at 8pm. Two weeks ago I showed up to play on the Park Strip expecting to be on the little stage, but no — I was on the Big Stage, sandwiched between two large rock bands. That’s some wicked good progress for just a few months! And it’s all thanks to those of you who are spreading the word. Please, please continue.
Inevitably the time for playing around on myspace and facebook is diminishing. I’m sorry! I have several new profiles up now in various networks (the blurb is below), but myspace will be where I make personal contact, for the most part. And I’ll continue to do so as often as I can.
Blurb alert: Find Marian in your networks of choice!
And then pass the word along to a friend. Blog it, Tweet it, Post it.
(P.S. Does anyone have enough free time for a Wikipedia entry? How I would so admire someone who helped me out with that…)
Till next time…
Photos by Brian Adams.