From Fairfield, IA

06/03/2010 at 5:40 pm | Posted in 49>50, Stories from the Road | 5 Comments

I love house concerts. Last night I played on a deck in a backyard in rural-ish Iowa, surrounded by fields, frogs, birds, and fireflies. It was a rapt audience and a magical night with an amazing sky of stars overhead.

After the show we stood about the living room and sang Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and Greg Brown songs. My 16-year-old concert host, @hawthornegalen, played a bluegrass tune he’d written for his girlfriend in Guam: “We’re both stuck on rocks in the middle of nowhere / she’s got bananas, we got corn in rows / she’s got beaches, we got hoes…” (paraphrasing). Then three of us decided to have a Map-Off, in which we drew the United States as fast as possible, freehand and from memory. At this point I would like to apologize to everyone east of the Mississippi, as I’ve only barely been there:

Arkansas, Alabama, Rhode Island and Delaware now deserve songs. Because I forgot them. Sorry. In my defense, neither of the other contestants remembered Alaska or Hawaii, knew the shape of Idaho, could abbreviate states properly (AR is not AK is not AL) or had any idea where any Canadian Province was. And it’s better than the freehand US map I drew at age 10:

A good friend of mine from college was able to come with her two very small daughters, and they behaved themselves very well (and charmed the crowd for sure). She could never have brought the little ones to a club, and probably would have hesitated to have them at an indoor show at all. Again: house concerts are the best. Watching a 2-year-old stalk a barn cat while I play is just the best thing ever.

In Saugatuck Michigan, a 3-year-old boy and his 5-year-old sister sat in a double stroller in the garden of a coffeehouse and listened, rapt, for almost an entire two-hour show. Their mom reported that they go to concerts all the time and love to listen. I can’t say how happy that made me. Both children decided they wanted to give me their ice cream allowance for the day in the tip jar: each one put in a crisp beautiful $2 bill. I wanted to tear up from smiling so hard. I do not ever want my career to evolve to the point where that doesn’t happen.

I feel lucky to be a bit off the beaten path here in Fairfield. My GPS took us a back way through rural Illinois — on windy country roads without another car in sight — and I’m so glad to be off the interstate and seeing trees. Fairfield has fantastic espresso, for the record.

Booking and posting dates on gigs is totally overwhelming, but fear not, they’re getting nailed down. Still need help with Boulder, Las Vegas, Moscow ID, E. WA, and Portland.

See you soon, Heartlanders!


Upcoming shows, details at

6/3 Java Joe’s/4th Street Theatre, Des Moines IA
6/4 Salva O’Renick 1st Friday Art Walk, Kansas City, MO
6/5 Manhattan Arts Center, Manhattan, KS
6/6 Lynn Riggs Park, Claremore OK
6/13 Open House Concert, Houston TX
6/14 Open House Concert, Austin TX
6/17 Poor David’s Pub, Dallas TX
6/19 KISS Coffee Courtyard, Albuquerque


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. You are beautiful. Never stop being who you are, Marian Call.

  2. A friend saw you at a house concert in the Twin Cities and pointed me to your site. Neat stuff. Fairfield is not far from my home town. Did you visit Guru U. while there? I miss lightning bugs – very few wish to live in Minnesota.

  3. Feh. Left this comment in the wrong place.

    Rhode Island has a song. By Blossom Dearie. “Rhode Island is Famous for You.” So that’s one thing off the list.

  4. […] children, and afterwards we all sang folk songs in the living room for hours.  We also had a map-off in which two other girls and I drew the United States freehand from memory at top speed.  (I owe […]

  5. […] From Fairfield, IA, on house concerts and a freehand speed map-off competition (apologies to AL, AR, RI, DE) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: