The Hot Place: Texas

04/06/2011 at 4:42 am | Posted in 49>50, Stories from the Road | 2 Comments
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(Photos to go along with this blog are at Flickr.com/mariancall.  Earlier blog posts linked & listed in this entry here.)

For an Alaska-dweller I spend lots of time in Texas.  I have a lot of fans there, I have family there, and I must admit: I love Austin.  I know I know, loving Austin is passé and uncool already, but know what?  I don’t care.  Avocados are 5/$1, they sell hot sugared pecans by the side of the road, and there’s live music and street fairs everywhere — well-attended too, people come out and support local.  I just avoid SxSW and snooty “industry” types and eat a LOT and I’m good.  So despite its reputation and its insecurity issues, I usually enjoy my time in Texas.  (When they aren’t shooting me with airsoft guns between the eyes, like they did on my first tour there.)

Bryan Ray and I drove very late from Oklahoma after I did this shiny breakfast interview to head “home” where I’d stop for a full week.  I recall getting out of the car at 1am and doing jumping jacks to stay awake at the gas station — which is a great way to attract some Texas homeboy attention. “You in need of assistance ma’am?” asked a would-be cowboy.  I couldn’t think of a good way to say, “No, I just want to do jumping jacks,” so I’m pretty sure I hid behind a trash can until his hat went into the convenience store.

We pulled in exhausted and in the morning I woke up in familiar surroundings — for the first time since I left Fargo, ND, I recognized something!  I knew where my coffee shops were at!  I could navigate without a GPS!  Almost.  So visiting Austin is a dream.

I could also afford a couple of concert-free days to play Ingenious with Dad, drink lots of tea and eat lots of peaches, and actually hear other people sing.  I drove out to Kerrville Folk Festival, a sort of beautiful remote hippie folkie lovefest in the Hill Country.  I’ve always heard only wonderful things about Kerrville, and sure enough the performances we enjoyed were completely stellar.  I ran into Randall Williams whose wise words in 2007 helped direct my career more than he could ever suspect.  And I found Raina Rose, a favorite singer-songwriter of mine, hanging around the music shop playing guitar with friends and strangers.  So I knew a grand total of two people.

Funny though — I didn’t quite fit in with the straight folk crowd.  My songs don’t have repeating choruses that everyone can harmonize to around the campfire.  And not having grown up with the culture myself, I didn’t know the music everyone else knew.  I didn’t have a guide to show me around, and a couple people asked me if I was from New York. “Um, no, Alaska.” “Well you look like you’re from New York City.” I hid behind a trash can again until their hats went away, thinking, “But I was so careful to wear dirty Texas hill country clothes!”  I wandered around the campsites and numerous hippie buses, and thought how strange it is that I lived on a hippie bus for half a year — full-time in fact, through the winter, hard-core hippie bus-living.  Yet I totally failed to gel with this crowd.  I was too metro, too fast, too uptight, too techie, and too New Yorkish.  (Incidentally this is also my social obstacle in Alaska, where so many of the awesome people are chill and outdoorsy and carry djembes and guitars on their backs.  Wonderful folks. Me no fit.)

Kerrville Folk Festival

Ah well, you can’t win them all.  I returned to Austin, bought Hadestown at Waterloo Records, drank beer, played more Carcassonne, watched some Pixar movies, and felt more like me.  And tried not to be too disappointed in my awkwardness around the nice folky hippies I would so like to befriend. #toouptight

The next morning (if memory serves), I got a phone call that expanded my working definition of ‘surreal.’

“Good morning, this is Paul of PaulandStorm. We do this thing called w00tstock and everyone has been recommending you.”

I hid behind a trash can but this is a less effective tack when you’re on the phone.

For the most part I tried to convince them that they had the wrong person, because my renown and fan reach were insignificant compared with the rest of the lineup.  But I failed. “I really don’t have that many fans,” I told Paul.

“Well, you have the right ones,” he replied.

There’s no disagreeing with that.  My fans are amazing.  So I signed on for w00tstock 2.4: SDCC.  Then I packed to leave Austin and head Into the West.

***********************

Well, mostly west.  First I drove south.  SOUTH TO SPACESHIPS!

A friend of mine from college is now awesome enough to be designing launch/abort/reentry suits for astronauts.  She’s an adorable & sweet engineer who can do her job in killer heels.  Geek girls FTW.  She & her husband threw a house concert, populated almost entirely by NASA folks, and I could not have been more excited.

Some audiences are harder to play than others — it took me some time to learn that certain groups, such as engineers, astronauts and Saskatchewans, do not respond with quite as much laughter or applause or engagement or Zombified passion as, say, SDCC attendees.  Thankfully the Midwest had prepared me for my engineer audience and I managed to navigate the stoicism.  Afterwards I got to learn just a very little bit about what’s been happening with NASA’s funding and why — but don’t ask or argue with me, I’m not an expert.  Just a curious party.

The next morning I got to go to Johnson with my host and hostess.  Not for the tram tour, for the REAL tour.  The photo blog describes my visit better — you can find the set here on my Flickr with captions.  GUYS THEY HAVE SPACESHIPS THER EFRO REALS

In fact as I was touring robotics with my host, he asked if I wanted to get in the Lunar Rover. “You mean the spaceship?” I asked. “We usually call them rovers or modules…” he said. “NO!” I replied, maybe only in my head. “You are making spaceships.  Don’t ever lose sight of how freaking incredible that is.”

What blew my mind the most was the age of their infrastructure and the incredibly tight budgets they have to work with.  Still using the same everything from the sixties — buildings in need of renovations, ancient furniture, no chance to redesign older elements with newer synthetic materials…sometimes it was a little hard to stomach.  NASA’s research has historically given humanity so many things for so little investment.  I’ll spare you the political rant I want to write here — I’m sure you can imagine how it goes.  Grr Argh.

My tour over, I left Houston with one mission: to warn you all that there is a Cylon device inside the Lunar Rover.  I didn’t put it there.  Not my job.

Cylon Device

****************************

Dallas would be my last stop on the way out of Texas.  There are a number of other worthy cities, but Dallas had two things I wanted to see: Kristina Morland and Jayne Cobb.

Kristina Morland made one of my desert island discs, Pidgin Music.  It’s one of those CD’s I have bought seven copies of for everyone I know.  I asked her to open for me at Poor David’s Pub — and as I remembered, she’s not much for live performance.  But glory can she write and arrange, and hallelujah can she sing.  I’ve worn out that disc.

I didn’t have as much time as I wanted in Dallas, so I coordinated a sort of happy hour with some fans ahead of the show.  The minutes were too few, and like at all geekish fan gatherings, it started awkwardly, but I tell you what:  I really love my fans.  Given a half hour and the right topic they are so warm and funny, and yes it’s awkward, but as I learned at Kerrville — maybe awkward people are just my people.  I don’t think I fit with the cool kids.

But the uncool kids had a great time that night.  We rocked Poor David’s, which is a really fantastic TX venue — I hope they’ll let me back.  My heroes play there, folks like Sarah Harmer and Kasey Chambers.

And a real honest-to-gods hero showed up, too. Jayne! The man they call Jayne!

Jayne Cobb

Yes, this is his actual head and his actual plaque.  Zippy wantsta go to the crappy town where he’s a hero.

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Compiling…Compiling…Rebooting the 49>50 Blog

01/21/2011 at 2:35 am | Posted in 49>50, Stories from Alaska, Stories from the Road | 8 Comments
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Home.  I’ve been living in my own house nearly eight weeks now.   It’s still weird.

I gave myself a couple weeks to recover, but guess who’s bad at vacationing?  I failed to properly relax on Oahu, and I failed again at home in Anchorage.  Meanwhile my business trundles on with or without me, and the nature of the work is very hand-to-mouth, so if I rest too long I don’t eat.  (Marian would be such a good colonial pilgrim! If only she had a fancy hat.)

Tying up the myriad loose ends of the tour — such as chipping away at the nearly 500 postcards I have to write, digging out all the important contacts and business cards, and sending thank yous to the thousand people who deserve them — it’s somewhat frustrating work.  When you do something big and adventuresome it needs closure, a finish line, a wrap party, a book deal and movie rights (kidding, ick).  But usually The End is a slow fizzle of tiny tasks rather than a photo finish.  The first 100 postcards were no problem; the next 400?  That’s daunting.  Plus taxes, plus paperwork for Canada, plus proactively following up on venues that might be interested again next year…the more scattered the little jobs, the harder it is to feel like you’re making progress. I’m a fan of vertical filing, and my pathetic little piles of paper around the living room are starting to whisper urgent and confusing suggestions to me late at night.  Especially since my roommate went out of town. #help

</whine> #shutupMarian

After some computer issues that were all my fault (and which still plague me), I feel as if my brain is stuck on the spinny rainbow wheel of death.  My brain is stuck on the processing and compiling of all the data I acquired on this massive trip.  And I’m not sure how long I should wait before concluding it’s frozen and requires a force-quit and restart — maybe I should just give it a little more time to sort out all the 1’s and 0’s?

I think the key to un-sticking my brain may be this: I had a few lofty goals about reporting the 49>50 Tour back to you guys, goals that I didn’t quite accomplish.  And that’s bugging me.  Mostly I wanted to blog and post photos along the way, and I only managed that for the first few thousand miles or so.  My photos on Flickr stop in Oklahoma, state #10, which is failsauce on my part, and my blogs end in Austin, in state #11.  I sort of microblogged the rest of the way on Twitter, yfrog, and twitpic, but I didn’t have time or space there for deeper thoughts or longer stories at all.

I had been inviting fans to submit their memories of the tour in the comments, as if each post was a yearbook page.  I want to keep that up, because I like having a record of what you thought, not just endless jabber from me about me. That’s boring.

So I’m gonna try starting over on that, and see how it goes.  I can’t guarantee completion, but I’m not really ready to move on to the next thing (CD release) until I bring a small degree of closure to the last thing.

Let’s go back in time!

When I started this crazy trip, planning my route in the very café where I’m sitting now, I had no notion whether I’d finish it.  I’m pretty flabbergasted.  Which is fun to say.  Here’s the blog post that began it all, and the little map that I sort of mentally drew on an imaginary napkin:

Eeeeeeeeeeee!

(Funny, I stole this JPEG from a Google image search which revealed that on average two out of three U.S. maps on page 1 of a Google image search omit Alaska and Hawai’i.)  You can compare this to my actual route on the official Mapquest map to see how close I came.  Pretty darn is the answer.

Early blogs about the trip, listed here since some of you haven’t been around forever:

  • The Unobserved Life is Busy, On the nature of travel itself and how I roll
  • From Fairfield, IA, on house concerts and a freehand speed map-off competition (apologies to AL, AR, RI, DE)
  • Lost, on things I misplaced along the way and errands I ran between states
  • Uncharted Territory: ND, MN, WI, on the first three states I hit on tour, including a lecture at Kansas for claiming flatness
  • YMMV*, in which I play with Wolfram Alpha and discuss my car and the Cow Game
  • Places I never meant to go, in which I apologize to the Midwest and Heartland states, IL, MI, IN, IA, MO, KS, OK

I’ll be picking up where I left off, namely Texas, state #11.  Yes, I remember what happened.  Along the way I collected receipts, coasters, and other slips of paper, and I wrote my journal on those, in bits and pieces. (And I don’t expect you all have to read this nonsense, it helps me to write it, and if you’re interested and came late to the game, you can learn a bit of how it worked and what it was about.)

Photos!!!  The captions on the photos are practically a blog in themselves:

  • The Al-Can Drive South, with a New Yorker. Featuring tons of wildlife, creepy concrete Santa, a huge beaver, and a brilliant female luthier of the Yukon
  • North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, With glamorous rooftop pizza & hot tub parties in Fargo, the cutest giraffe I’ve ever seen, Zelda tattoos, and the legendary West Bend, WI feast
  • IL, MI, IN, IA, MO, KS, OK, with sunny beach rehearsals, adorable children, American Gothic, Kansas City BBQ, and the American Banjo Museum

I’ll be uploading more shortly to http://flickr.com/mariancall, probably starting with Texas.

Phew. I feel better. Categorizing and filing some links has soothed this pacing brain of mine.  But it’s only a start.  Soooooooo the spinny rainbow wheel keeps spinning, and I hope that if I just let it go a little longer, without panicking, it’ll complete the task at hand, quit, and be ready to open the next program.

Namely ProTools.

Thanks for reading — your time is valuable and I’m always amazed and happy when you spend a little on me.  You guys rock.  More adventures to come shortly!

Marian

(This is where I am, but not what I’m wearing, since it was taken a couple weeks ago.)

 

P.S. The more I look back over these blog posts, the more I’m convinced that I’m totally insane.

Just Taking Inventory

12/01/2010 at 12:21 am | Posted in 49>50, Just for Fun, Stories from the Road | 4 Comments
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The time has come, the Walrus said, for summaries and lists.  I have some math to do later, but for now, here’s the list of cities that partook in the 49>50 Tour:

Fairbanks, Tok, Anchorage (5 shows) AK
Fort St. John, Tsawwassen, Vancouver BC
St. Albert (2 shows), Edmonton  AB
Fargo ND
Minneapolis (2), Savage, Roseville (2) MN
West Bend WI
Chicago IL    (3)
Saugatuck, Ferndale MI
Indianapolis IN    (2)
Fairfield, Des Moines IA
Kansas City, St. Louis MO
Manhattan KS
Claremore OK
Austin (2), Houston, Dallas,  TX
Albuquerque, Santa Fe NM
Green Valley, Chandler AZ
Cambridge, Toronto, Ottawa, Kitchener ON
Lancaster, Joshua Tree, San Juan Capistrano, San Diego (4), Encino, Venice, San Luis Obispo, Redwood City, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Elk Grove CA
Las Vegas NV
Sandy UT
Boulder, Monument CO
Cheyenne WY
Bozeman MT
Prosser, Spokane, Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Seattle (4), Bellingham WA
Bend, Portland (2), Eugene OR
Boise ID
Sioux Falls SD
Omaha NE
Conway AR
New Orleans (2), Sulphur LA
Biloxi MS
Hunstville, Auburn AL
Atlanta GA (4)
Fort Lauderdale, Winter Park FL
Greenville SC
Charlotte, Raleigh, Julian NC
Roanoke, Fairfax VA
Charleston WV
Louisville KY
Lebanon, Nashville TN
Westlake, Cincinnati OH
Edgewater, Silver Spring MD
Vernon CT
Claymont DE
Philadelphia PA
Long Valley, Highland Park NJ
Glenmont, New York (2), Brooklyn NY
Providence RI
Montpelier VT
Portland ME
Holden, Boston, Cambridge MA
Concord NH
Montréal QC
Winnipeg MB
Regina SK
Honolulu HI  (3)

The list is final as of this writing, though Hawai’i may still surprise me with another booking outside HNL. Oh, and if you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a map. Hawai’i will get added to that once I complete it.

In other words: I haven’t been everywhere this year.  But I’ve come damn close.  (And yes, I still want to live in Anchorage.)

I wish I could tell you how many towns and suburbs and cities are on this list through the sheer force of will of a single person in that town who REALLY wanted me to come to their place and not somewhere else.  I couldn’t honor every request, but I nearly broke myself trying, because you guys are worth it.

If you Twitter-catch me snoozing a little on the job through the next month or two — this list would be why.  Currently I’m sleeping a lot, wrapping up tour business, planning Hawai’i, writing postcards, and breaking out my studio because I have an album to finish.  Oh, and I hafta do my taxes.  From last year.  *gulp*

Love to all — Marian

Calling Cards: Road Movie to the Yukon

11/11/2010 at 6:21 pm | Posted in 49>50, How to this-or-that, News & Explanations, Stories from the Road | 16 Comments
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UPDATE ON THIS BLOG: much to my shock and awe, nearly 400 people have already requested postcards. That’s a lot more than I anticipated! I have about 200 postcards to mail out, I’ll get some Alaska ones to round out the bunch. This means 2 things: 1) this might take a little longer than I thought, and 2) I need more postcards! If you want to send me some from your area, mail them to me (clean and unposted so I can use them) at PO Box 190926 Anchorage AK 99519! Beautiful, tacky, everything’s welcome as long as it’s rated PG. Read on, you can still apply until midnight 12/6.

UPDATE #2: Final count for postcard requests: 485.  I have some thank you notes to write as well. This may take a while. But thank you for your support and interest!  I’ll be working on this for a loooooong time.

SO! I have finished playing shows in 49 states out of 50.  And I am driving back home.  Through the Yukon.  In winter.  #survivethedrive

I had lofty aspirations of blogging and photoblogging this trip, but that will have to happen retroactively.  Because, the thing is, when you travel to all 50 states — you spend an awful lot of time driving.  I have been collecting notes for some badass blogging, and possibly short stories, once I’m home.  And I have amazing photos ready to share once I have some time alone with my beloved laptop.

This whole insane seven-month-long nonstop tour was made possible by an unbelievable wave of support from a very, very small group of people.  In a sense I set out to prove that a small sustainable friendly community on Twitter (5000-9000 people) and Facebook (1000-2000 people with lots of overlap) could support a tour of tremendous expense and reach.  It was a test of the Long Tail theory and the 1,000 True Fans proposition.  It was a test of the tensile strength of the internet and social media on the whole.  It was also a test of my health and endurance and mind and heart in every possible way.

And here’s the thing:

WE DID IT.

I left Anchorage on May 15th in my Subraru, drove through and played in 48 states as well as every Canadian province except the Maritimes (I’ll getcha next year, guys).  I’ll be home in Alaska by Thanksgiving, weather permitting, and I’ll hit Hawai’i in December.  My grand Victory Concert will be on 12/23 at the Tap Root in Anchorage, AK.

Twitter and Facebook have preserved my soundness of mind on this trip.  It’s psychologically devastating in ways I can’t describe to see nothing familiar for weeks at a time.  I might need therapy.  Or else a good long round of singing “We’re Out for Blood.” But when I was alone and witnessing something amazing, my Hive Mind was there — people I know, people I don’t, all keeping tabs on me.  You all kept this crazy lady sane.

I wish I could think of a good enough way to even BEGIN to thank you guys.  Instead I’m always begging you to come to shows or do more promo, come up with more ideas, answer my questions about groundhogs…and while I can’t afford to stop asking those things, I want to do SOMETHING nice for you.  I’ve been trying to think up a good thing.

So here’s what I’d like to do: send you a postcard!!!

I’ve been purchasing postcards from all the states and provinces I’ve been to, and I have a couple hundred by now.  And one is for you!*

If you want one, fill out this form: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dEtxLXN2c1dEdWtGUE8xbXBnSlRwTGc6MQ (If the link doesn’t work immediately, try copying/pasting it.)

This is free, and for everyone. U.S., Canada, overseas. You don’t have to have come to a show or even been helpful. You might have discovered me last week. I don’t care, I’ll send you a postcard anyhow!

I’m also collecting memories from the tour in this spreadsheet — from your perspective.  Like a yearbook.  Don’t let me ever forget about the Tribble Hug at Thinkgeek, or how Grandma nearly got run over at my show in North Carolina, or how I threw pineapple at my host’s son’s nose for missing the a capella dinner show in Bend, OR.

This is, again, totally free for all — including folks overseas!  Won’t lie, right about now I’d really appreciate a tip or a T-shirt sale or an album purchase, as getting up the Al-Can is unearthly expensive and I’m a little broke without shows every night.  (Plus, the many holidays are approaching! Happy Festivus…) But whether or not you tip, this is totally free.  I want to thank you for being one of the Most Amazing Little Fanbases on the Internet.  I’m gonna make up an awards ceremony with a not-so-meaningful prize and give it to you.**  Because you may not be many fans, but you are clearly the RIGHT fans.  You are mighty.

I’ma go home now, plan my Hawai’i trip (help welcomed), rest up, pay my late taxes, and finish an album or two.  Phew.

I love you guys all.***  Thank you SO MUCH.

Marian

Homeward Bound

*You can’t choose a state for the postcards, sorry.  I tried to pick cool ones.  If somehow I run out, I’ll send you an awesome Alaskan one.  This offer good thru Dec. 6th.  And I have really nice handwriting, I promise.

**Actually I think I just did.  Postcard trophies for everyone!

***But not that way.  You’re imagining things.

New York! Boston! Dallas! Austin! Wake Up and w00t!

10/28/2010 at 8:34 pm | Posted in 49>50, Browncoats, General Nerdery, Just for Fun, News & Explanations | 5 Comments
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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.

So.

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):

PaulandStorm
Adam Savage
Grant Imahara
Jonathan Coulton
Neil Gaiman
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
MC Frontalot
Molly Lewis
Mary Jo Pehl
Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse
((me!))

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,

Marian Call

*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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Nashville and DC Concerts, or, I Owe You Guys One

09/28/2010 at 12:18 pm | Posted in 49>50, News & Explanations, Stories from the Road | 2 Comments

I think by the end of this insane 50 states tour I will have to rename it (or at least subtitle it) The Kindness of Strangers tour.  It’s insane, obscene, overwhelming how the small nice things a thousand people do add up.  Next time you’re discouraged about something, just call me and I’ll tell you that there are still good things about humanity, even good things about America, and potential for more everywhere.  I know, crazy.  But I’m living it.  So I’ll be hard to persuade that people are really all that bad.  (Or that people are good, but then I already knew that people aren’t inherently good.  I knew it way too well.)

There’s hardly a car you can drive 30,000 miles without a single breakdown, particularly a car already over 100,000 miles.  So it was time for my tour car repair.  I was expecting it — I just wasn’t expecting it to be so bad ($2000+ since they have to get inside the transmission; crossing fingers it’s not more by the end). Thankfully these repairs occurred in a time and place where I can leave my car and double back to retrieve it.

The good news is this huge repair won’t sink me, or the tour.  The better news is that I saved for it a little.  The best news is that you guys are incredible, and your album purchases and tips over just a few hours have helped tremendously to defray the cost of the repair (and rental).  Right now I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Cincinnati — I hitched a ride here at 5am to pick up a much cheaper rental car than I could find in Kentucky due to the World Equestrian Games.  I know, weird.

I want to thank you guys.  I don’t have that many ways to do it, except by making more music.  So that’s what I’ll do.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 9/29/10, in Nashville TN I will be doing a concert with guitarist Bryan Ray in a gorgeous recording studio which will be recorded, mixed, and mastered (by producer Bryan Ray!) for you guys.  I was going to release it for $$ someday, but in light of how much you all have helped me, I’m changing strategies and releasing it for free (tip if you must).  I’m very excited about this because it means I’ll have a high quality recording of how my songs have come to sound after five months on the road — they’ve evolved a lot, and my voice has changed with wear, and it’s fun to get a really good live recording.  I hope I don’t screw up.

(Tickets are still available in Nashville — we need a live studio audience for the recording to sound good!  If you know anyone there, send them! Only $10-15 in advance or at the door, 7:30pm 9/29/10, Playground Studios in Nashville TN.  Limited seating, but please tell folks so we fill that limited seating!)

Next week, Wednesday 10/6/10, from Fairfax VA you will be able to sit in on a less-high-quality concert live, for free, from anywhere in the world!  We’ll be webstreaming from Thinkgeek headquarters in the DC area a little after 7pm EST (keep an eye on Twitter for the exact start time).  The stream will appear on my website’s home page, or at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/marian-call-live-from-thinkgeek-hq.  In fact at that URL you can RSVP and you’ll get an e-mail reminder to tune in when it’s time!  That show with guitarist Scott Barkan *should* be recorded by Ustream and stay online for later viewing (though we had a problem with that once in the past).  So say a prayer for no technical difficulties, set a reminder, and watch the show from far away!  I hope we crash Ustream.

(Tickets to the live studio event at Thinkgeek are sold out, but there are two concerts in Maryland that are striking distance from DC on 10/5 and 10/7, and you are certainly invited to those! Details at http://mariancall.com.)

This is really what I have to thank you guys with, and I hope you like it.  You’ve been amazing.  This tour has been facilitated by hundreds of people and attended by thousands.  The helpfulness of folks, when I make bids for help and stay positive about my situation, is mindblowing.

I kind of want to repurpose my tour to give you all hugs.  But I’m a little tired to do this all again.

(And I couldn’t handle a repeat of all the amazing food.  I have definitely gained weight.  Thanks, The South.)

Marian

The Northeast: here I come.  The only places still to book are NYC, Philadelphia PA, VT, RI, DE, ME, and HI.  Y’all are stubborn in the last few states.  If you have a home, bookstore, science center, comic shop, cafe, or other space for me, I have fans — get in touch. mcminion42*at*gmail.com.  Don’t miss me!

Plus some Canada stuff: Montreal, Ottawa or Kingston, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort St. John, and Whitehorse — I would be more than happy to play for you if you want me!  Just e-mail me to set up a show. mcminion42*at*gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of @nickprogrammerman, taken in a backyard Omaha despite noisy cicadas.

A Critically Important Announcement and a Special Event

08/30/2010 at 1:40 am | Posted in 49>50, How to this-or-that, News & Explanations | 2 Comments

I think most of us know (or remember) how it feels to be a little low on funds. But it’s much worse to be a little low on funds when other people rely on you. I’m doing an event in two days that means a lot to me, even though it’s only one of many stops on this crazy 50-state tour, for an organization that needs a little support right now.

In Biloxi, Mississippi, on Tuesday night, I’m playing a benefit concert for the Bethel Free Health Clinic, http://www.bethelfreeclinic.org/about.html. The Clinic was founded in response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It will take place at Bethel Lutheran Church, 2521 Pass Road, at 6pm. Anyone in the area is invited to attend — I’ll be breaking out some special songs that I don’t usually perform.

But here’s what concerns you: I’m inviting my amazing online fans around the globe to participate in this fundraiser. The funds go to help the Bethel Free Clinic continue their work bringing quality health care to the many uninsured residents of South Mississippi. They already operate through the help of tons of amazing volunteers and donors, but they need you too. It’s easy: give $5, $10, $50, $100, doesn’t matter. Click here to make a donation at http://www.bethelfreeclinic.org/.

Here’s why this matters to me, Part I: I expect to arrive in Biloxi early enough to visit the clinic for a checkup myself, which I badly need and haven’t really had the spare funds to spring for. I am one of the many uninsured that create the need for clinics like this one. It’s safe to say that most of my friends and cohorts are uninsured or underinsured. I mostly skip getting any health care at all, except where clinics like this can help me out.

Last fall I had a little scare about a lump in my breast, which is something tons of women go through (see blog about it here). I can’t explain to you what panic that inspires in an uninsured young entrepreneur — you just have to go through it yourself. And odds are, you have or you know someone who has. Thankfully I’m all right, but after this winter, I see serving the uninsured as one of the most important places your donations can go. If you’ve had a friend, relative, coworker go through a serious illness uninsured, take a second to donate just a few dollars.

Here’s why this matters to me, Part II: I’m in New Orleans tonight for the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The city is both somber and celebratory, devastated and unsinkable. And, setting the tone, it’s raining and blustery. This anniversary is incredible to see for myself — I went to the thriving exciting neighborhoods and to the Ninth Ward, and listened to a lifelong resident tell me, “Oh, now we start every paragraph with ‘before the storm’ and ‘after the storm’ and we don’t even think about it.”

New Orleans is the hub of the Katrina attention, but the fact is hundreds of miles and millions of people on the Gulf Coast were affected. I think it’s particularly fitting that I’m going to play this show for the Clinic almost exactly five years after it was founded. The Gulf Coast deserves a little support in honor of how much things changed that week, and though there are tons of worthy organizations who deserve a gift on this anniversary, this is the one I’m asking you to support with a donation now. If you give five dollars, that’s something more than what they’d have otherwise. Do it now.

You guys are awesome. I know because I’m meeting scores of you every week and discovering how incredible you are myself. I love my fans and listeners, for real. I hope you’ll join me in supporting the Bethel Free Clinic. They need it and they deserve it. Thank you —

Marian

Upcoming shows, details at http://mariancall.com:

8/29 Circle Bar, New Orleans LA
8/30 Open House Concert, Sulphur LA
8/31 Fundraiser for Bethel Free Clinic, Biloxi MS
9/1 Open House Concert, Huntsville AL area
9/2 Gnu’s Room Coffeehouse & Bookstore, Auburn, AL
9/3 Warehouse Concert, tickets on sale now, Atlanta GA
9/4 Parsec Awards, Fark Party, Browncoat Shindig, Dragon*Con Atlanta GA
9/9 Fremont Abbey, tickets on sale now, Seattle WA
9/11 Cocoa Nymph Chocolatier, Vancouver BC

Places I Meant to Never Go: IL, MI, IN, IA, MO, KS, OK

06/22/2010 at 12:18 am | Posted in 49>50, News & Explanations, Stories from the Road | 24 Comments

I know I’ve split an infinitive, but in that secret corner of my brain where un-funny things are funny it’s a Star Trek reference.

I HAVE AN IDEA.  I don’t want to forget all the amazing things happening on this trip, but I can’t blog about everything either.  In fact, having ambitions too lofty for my blogs has prevented me from writing them at all, and then I have to lump several states together like this, which is quite unfair.  SO!  Right here, in the comments, if you met me at one of these shows — or hosted, or tried to, or have some other memory to relate about the trip — share it!  If you took photos, share the link!  These state-oriented blog entries are about to become my yearbook from the 49>50 Tour.  I’m relying on you!  SO PLEASE…take a moment to share a memory from the state where you saw me!

I owe the entire middle of the country a huge apology.  My whole life, I have unconsciously adopted that obnoxious “flyover states” mentality, imagining visiting all these exciting locations on the coast while leaving the Midwest and the Heartland untouched by my wandering thoughts.  It’s official:  I’m sorry.  Very sorry.  You middle states are amazing.  And by and large, where you have cool arts scenes, you are creating them yourselves without the aid of hype.  I will be back for sure.

My snobbery was fully satisfied by fantastic beer in Indianapolis, Des Moines, and Oklahoma City.  My sweet tooth was blown away by my first Dutch Letters from a street vendor in Pella IA, ice cream in Saugatuck MI, and incredible S’more cookies (house-made marshmallows and graham crackers included!) in Manhattan KS. I had an unforgettable farm-to-table breakfast at The Farmhouse in Kansas City, where I was mistaken for a food blogger and so given the best of service.  And I had a nice long talk with the chef.  (And the fact is — the meal was PERFECT, my best eggs benny in recent memory, not overseasoned or overcooked, a perfect serving size on airy fresh bread — amazing stuff.  The farm-fresh eggs tasted so much better than I’m used to, they needed very little improvement — each ingredient had more flavor by virtue of being local and direct from the farm.  The coffee was fantastic (French press only) and the price was quite reasonable, $8 I believe for the average brunch entrée.  So there, now I’m a food blogger.  Go there and tell ’em I sent ya.)

I think I shall remember this whole trip by food and people, because that’s what changes for me from day to day.  So it’s up to you to help me remember the details of the shows.  I accidentally booked myself 15 shows in a row, from Minneapolis down to Claremore, OK.  Oops.  But my voice survived.  We played in 3 living rooms, 2 backyards, 2 parks, several cafes, the odd bar, and an advertising agency (!).  I love my job.  Sometimes there were 60 people, sometimes 10.  Sometimes I slept in a nice hotel, mostly on couches and futons and floors.  Let it be known that if you decide to come out to a show, it’s possible that at the beginning or the end you might be the only one listening.  So your presence is critical!

Chicago made it to the finals in hockey.  I think it’s referred to as the “Stanley Cup” or something.  Anyway, they were playing at the same time as me — and I decided I was going to lose that battle.  So huge thanks to the two dozen awesome listeners who stuck out the game for a show start nearly 90 minutes late!  And what a great show it was — my first with new-to-me guitarist Bryan Ray.  In Michigan I had a garden concert outside a cafe and met some longtime web friends I was thrilled to encounter IRL.  I also met friend-of-a-friend Matthew Frank, author of my current read and new favorite book Barolo.  Which you ought to buy and read, because it’s about wine and food and Italy and running from the law.

In Indianapolis, my backyard Memorial Day concert was rained out, so we had it in the living room instead — which I felt was a far superior space.  The crowd of friends there were hilarious, and indulged my appetite for Indiana history while we talked hours into the night.  I’m still not entirely clear on what a “Hoosier” is but at least I have context.  My cafe show the next day at Lazy Daze packed the tiny deck beyond capacity and the audience trickled onto the lawn and sidewalk.  Rural Iowa is completely gorgeous, as far as I’m concerned — the rolling green hills and trees amaze me even in my mind’s eye.  I played in Fairfield — the center of the universe, according to the Maharishi — so, center of the universe show, check.  The house concert was on a beautiful green lawn with fireflies and roaming 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 the East Coast an apology, BTW.)  The next day I played for a small but vocal and devoted geeky crew in Des Moines, and we went out for the mother of all beer samplers after.

In Kansas City I played First Friday, which was mostly a walk-by sort of event.  Not so many people listened, but those who did were fantastic.  I felt all the more determined to give it my all for those few folks who stopped and paid attention.  Afterwards I went out into the KC nightlife and felt more utterly totally vanilla than I have in years.  I am so unhip in that nightlife kind of way.  I wanted a book and a beer and a board game.  Thankfully Manhattan, KS came after, and my friend Jason set us up a fabulous show in a real black box theater with amazing acoustics — such a luxury!  It was well-attended and intimate and beautiful.  And the place we stayed was so geeky there were comic books next to the bed For Teh Win.  Therapy.

Claremore, OK was my town of choice because some very vocal, very determined fans there totally made it happen.  Huge thanks to those who drove in from farther afield to hear the show!  I played in a gazebo, which turned out not to have any electricity — oops!  But then I suddenly remembered what old gazebos were designed FOR.  Not wedding photos — amplification.  Brian and I stood right in the sweet spot and my voice resonated all the way across the park.  No amplification needed!  It was so much fun to sing unplugged without damaging the voice (much).  A magical night.  Did some interviews with Whedonage.com the next day in Tulsa, which you can see here.

Photos from this stretch coming to Flickr shortly, when I have more internets.  Again, if you took photos, put the link in the comments!  If you remember a specific moment, please record your impressions here!  The preserving of memories on this trip is a little urgent in my mind, and it’s also more than I can manage without your help.

Love to each, and hope to see you again soon,

Marian Call

So. Big news. w00t w00t w00t!

06/20/2010 at 10:04 pm | Posted in 49>50, General Nerdery, Just for Fun, News & Explanations, Stories from the Road | 7 Comments

Some of my following are geeks, and some are not.  But I hope that all of you will rejoice in this frabjous news:

If you don’t know what w00t means, it’s the sound a Geek makes when it’s happy about something.  Or when you squeeze it.  If you don’t know what w00tstock is, here’s a bit of a primer.  And here are details on MY w00tstock, edition 2.4, including ticket info.  It will be on Thursday night, July 22nd, 2010 at 7:30pm.  (Protip: you do not have to be attending San Diego Comic Con to attend w00tstock.) (Other Protip: this is an awesome event, with an incredible lineup of way-famouser-than-me people, and I will only be performing for 10 minutes at it.  So if you want to see a real Marian Call concert, also come to a real Marian Call concert.  There will be one accessible from, but not exclusive to, SDCC on Saturday night 7/24.)

Other distinguished guests you may or may not have heard of (but I have! Eeeeee!) include:

You might not know who any of these people are, and if that’s the case, just smile and nod and realize that this is maximally awesome for Marian.  Or check them out, if you think you might like them.  One of my favorite acts to come out of w00tstock thus far is a monologue by Peter Sagal (@petersagal) at w00tstock Chicago; part I is here and part II is here — and it’s SO worth 12 minutes of your time.

To sum up, just know this: if you’re reading this blog in the first week I’m posting it, then you were here first.

One of the reasons I think this is so awesome is that Paul-of-Paul-and-Storm reported to me that I am one of the most recommended acts ever.  That’s because of you guys.  A couple of amazing people in high places recommended me, and I owe them humble thanks.  But I hear that many many dozens of fans took time to write and recommend me as well — and that’s because you’re AWESOME. “I don’t really have that many fans,” I remember stammering on the phone as I confirmed this engagement.  “Well, you have the right ones,” responded Paul emphatically.  I concur.

Since this announcement (and because of a couple very hardworking fans — it only takes one or two per city!) I have had much larger-than-expected turnouts at my shows.  Please please please, let’s keep this up!  You guys ROCK.  I am behind on everything, so please pardon me as I try to keep up with all teh awesome.  But as I wind my way through this whole darn country I am more and more astounded at how amazing are the people I’m meeting, the people who are listening, everywhere.  I’ll do my best for you.

Thank you!

<3 Marian

******************************************************************************

Upcoming shows, details at http://mariancall.com:

6/20 Corazon, Santa Fe NM
6/22 Open House Concert, Green Valley (Tucson area), AZ
6/23 Open House Concert, Phoenix AZ
6/27 Open House Concert, Toronto ON
6/30 Outdoor Concert on East Stage of JT Lake, Joshua Tree CA — come camping! You know you want to…
7/1 Hillary Artspace, Las Vegas NV — First Thursday art party!
7/2 Open House Concert, Salt Lake City UT — huge backyard bash!
7/3 Trident Books & Coffee, Boulder CO
7/4 Folsom St. Coffee, Boulder CO
7/5 Dirty Woman Park Concert, Monument CO — bring your 4th leftovers and a super soaker!

A handy little invite I like to forward to my friends when I’m landing on the ground — just copy and paste pertinent show details from http://mariancall.com and stick it in an e-mail!  I will need a lot of help bringing folks to my concerts through the mountain states, it’s not my home turf yet.

Marian Call touring all 50 states!

YMMV*

06/16/2010 at 4:54 am | Posted in 49>50, General Nerdery, Stories from the Road | 3 Comments

Asked of me tonight on http://formspring.me/mariancall:

How many miles have you covered so far? How many meters? How many cubits?

[I run to check car repair paperwork from my #frakagasket incident [in which my car’s headgasket went, along with a number of other things, days before this trip began]…]

Miles driven since #frakagasket repair in Anchorage: 7,581
That’s in exactly 4 weeks — well, with 1 week of no driving and no shows here in Austin. So an average of 361 miles per day on days that I played shows.

7,581 miles
= 1.22 x 10^7 meters
= 2.669 x 10^7 cubits
= 1.9 x equatorial radius of Earth ( 6.37814×10^6 m )
= 0.3 x equatorial circumference of Earth ( 2 pi R_(+) )

(Thank you, http://WolframAlpha.com.)

My car — which is named Agent 99 — got another clean bill of health today with her biweekly oil change.  This one was overdue, actually.  She’s so good!  She’s so so so good!  I love my Subi and I pet her on the dashboard and tell her so all the time.  I don’t know what the total mileage of this trip will be, not by a long shot, but I’m guesstimating 40,000-60,000 miles total.  I will certainly have circled the globe once.  Maybe I should update my Geico profile, come to think of it.

Perhaps I should keep track, separately, of the mileage on me, as I have several airplane trips interspersed throughout the trip.  The first is to Toronto at the end of the month.  Huzzah!  That will be the farthest east I’ve ever been in Canada.  Farthest south, too.

My first day here in Austin, at my Dad’s house, I unloaded everything from the car and we washed and vacuumed her out.  There were no-bake cookies, wasabi soy almonds, carrots, fruit snacks, a piece of a peanut butter Twix bar, beef jerky, and zillions of mystery crumbs under the front seats.  And I found two earrings!  Thankfully before the shop vac did.

I’ve come to associate my car so powerfully with my body that after the vacuuming I felt fuzzy and strange all over.

Bryan Ray, mister guitarist for the Chicago > Santa Fe leg of the trip, taught me a new car game: the COW GAME.  In the Cow Game you count cows on your side of the car in your favor.  If you pass a graveyard on your side of the car, you lose all your cows.  (This is more fun than it sounds, I promise.)  For some reason in Indiana Bryan was getting all the cows — there were simply none on my side.  When we switched and he drove — same thing.  I was frustrated. “Don’t worry about it,” said Bryan. “I’ve been playing this game for a really long time.  I’m kind of a pro.”

One more day of rest here in Austin (and by “rest” I mean incredibly hard computer work, but with the luxury of staying in the same place a few nights and not singing).  I head out Thursday morning for New Mexico, Arizona, Joshua Tree CA (camping trip guys!) and Toronto, ON.  I’m looking forward to driving again, because in a way it’s permission to not be working on my e-mail and promo and such.  Behind the wheel is one of my favoritest freest places to be.

Marian

*YMMV stands for Your Mileage May Vary, for those of you not who have a life enough to not know that.

Itinerary, show details at http://mariancall.com:

6/17 Poor David’s Pub, Dallas TX

6/19 KISS Coffeehouse Courtyard, Albuquerque NM

6/20 Corazon, Santa Fe NM

6/22 Open House Concert, Green Valley (Tucson area), AZ

6/23 Open House Concert, Phoenix AZ

6/27 Open House Concert, Toronto ON

6/30 Outdoor Concert, East Stage of Joshua Tree Lake, CA

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