Broadcasting from Juneau AK, in my home, with tea and oranges and honey. I have a short thing to say that I’ve been meaning to say. Just sharing some love.
As an aside, I’ve been moving over the past couple of weeks, and now I have a home. Like a Home home. This is kinda big for me, because I have been living in I would consider “other people’s space” since mid-2008. I’ve been pretty happy and perky about it, but it’s been strenuous, and I can’t say what a revelation it is, to have a place to live that’s mine. I can leave shampoo in the shower — I can play the music I want, when I want it — I can buy food at Costco because I’ll be here long enough to eat it — I can invite people over and cook dinner. It’s stirring up crazy emotions, this nesting after years of perching. But I’m a fan. Home is nice, however long I get to have it.
Since I’m nestled in here, recording and editing music and making tons of things for you guys (and sleeping), I am Not On Tour. Sorry. A girl’s gotta stop sometime. I’ll be here in Juneau for a couple of months, trying to forget how to drive. I’ll hit the road again in late spring/early summer.
For now I think it’s way past time I pointed you toward some of the incredible people it’s been my pleasure to work and play with. THEY are on tour. THEY are also making new music. You should know about them. In no particular order:
–> Scott Barkan will be touring NC, PA, NY, and NJ very soon, and you are likely to catch him a lot more in the Northeast over the next few months. I recommend you hunt him down and listen to him play. Join his e-mail list, especially if you’re in the NE sector of the U.S. His guitar work will leave you breathless. Don’t take my word for it; see this video of his performance of “I Got No Reason” at CERN — yes, that CERN — cuz Switzerland will be talking about it for years. The audio is not perfect but I will never forget how it felt to hear him on this particular night.
His most recent album is called “Little Days,” and it’s wonderful. Scott also plays with kickass costumed comedy/rock supergroup Fortress of Attitude. They are brave enough to let Scott play electric guitar. I am still afraid he will blind the audience with rainbow lasers shooting out of his hands if we try that on my tours.
–> Seth Boyer somehow got loose in the Lower 48 unsupervised, and he’s tweeting up some chaos down there. On his way back north he’ll play with me in Juneau, but he does his own thing too, and lots of it, mostly in Alaska and sometimes Outside.
Seth sings the songs that inspire the angels to have three too many shots of whiskey and weep. From his bio, and it’s true: “Seth’s music has been described as having the enthusiasm of Josh Ritter if the knife that killed Elliott Smith had stabbed it in the chest. At once heartbreaking and optimistic, bourbon and anti-psychotics fuel its unflinching candor.” I love it.
“Lie to Me” is one of my favorite songs by anyone ever.
Seth’s one of those guys who exposes the limits of the dumb categories we assign people, because he’s everything; he is Alaskan flannel shirts and Viking beard through and through, he loves sportsball, he listens to All The Podcasts (and he makes some), he knows everything about nerd lore and films — seriously, Seth’s brain is a ridiculous filing cabinet of facts protected by spiky opinions sharpened with wit. He’s a wit porcupine. You should get his album and you should catch him at a show, especially a show in a quiet room where you can hear his pretty voice.
–> Molly Lewis and the Doubleclicks are the people I wish I could play with way more than I do. I miss them. They are an inspiration to me and I loved playing a few shows as a superpowered girl group — even though all our acts are very different. They are CURRENTLY IN THE BAY AREA and heading down to L.A. Catch them in the next few days if you’re there! They are often in the Northwest and occasionally in other parts of the country. They are a perfect joint girl power tour, like pears and brandy or spicy pickles and stout (it’s true, try it!).
The Doubleclicks sort of write songs in haiku. I mean, they’re not haiku, but they are short and nicely self-contained like tiny very funny presents with bows. Once I gave them thirty minutes to perform, and I think they got through ten songs. Here are some favorites of mine at w00tstock 4.0 with awesome sound:
Molly Lewis’s stuff is heady in the way I like heady, and her rhymes are those of a badass verbal contortionist. I love the topics of her songs, from Peeps to Abraham Lincoln to bioluminescence. She makes great songs and they are smart and sometimes very moving. You can find her stuff on sale here, and her solo tour dates there. She is also big on the Youtubes.
This is my favorite song by Molly because I prefer beards so very very much and because the Doubleclicks let me play their keyboard cat this one time.
–> Bryan Ray played a bunch of the 49>50 Tour with me and met bunches of you guys. But he is smarter than me, so he decided to stay in one place more, and now he lives in Austin TX. He still mixes and masters studio work for me sometimes, because that is his particular genuis. And I hope we can do my next project together, whatever that may be.
I’m excited that Bryan is now doing the kind of studio work he told me he wanted to do back in 2010 — thrilled in fact. But his solo work, when he has time to make some, is really gorgeous and otherworldly, and worth a listen. He’s releasing tracks under the name Lonely Child. Bryan has created rich, layered tone poems about childhood and growing up. They’re stream of consciousness sound journeys, showcasing his personal tastes and production prowess. I completely love this film he made with Timmer O’Phelan.
–> Jordan Shindle holds down the fort back in Anchorage. He has been playing with me since he was in high school. We’ve toured a bit, but mostly he takes care of my Alaska hometown needs and protects Anchorage from boredom. He’s too Rock Star for me anyhow.
Jordan’s latest project is a new band called Giants Make Way. Yup, it’s metal, and it totally fits him — he finally gets to use All The Pedals that I seldom let him break out. He’s pushing himself to new heights technically, the band’s music is getting popular at home in Anchortown, and they just released a new EP (it’s en route to iTunes, you can listen to it now here). I don’t know squat about metal. But this is better than a heckuva lot of the metal I’ve heard. I love young excited bands, and I really love it when they push themselves to technical excellence, not just increasing decibels. So rock on, guys — I hope this year’s a good one for you.
SO GO CHECK OUT one or more of these good folks. Drop a dollar on a track. Go to a show or get on a single mailing list so we can find you when we ARE playing near you.
Or, heck, go hear whoever you can hear near you. Live music can really change your life, and I mean that. It flips your whole perspective around — sometimes for a couple minutes, sometimes for months. Do it.
I support and wish luck to TONS of other musicians I love and folks I’ve worked with — these are the people I’ve toured with the most extensively, but there are tons more I could mention who have played with me. People like Joel Hermansen (who co-wrote Love & Harmony with me), Johnny Giedosh, Vixy & Tony, Colter Lemons, Eric Rodgers, Nathan Levine, and more and more and more. If they get back to me with links I’ll add them.
But now it’s time to sleep in my house. Where I live. Where I get to stay tomorrow and the next night and the next night and my suitcases are all finally unpacked. My best to all of you, especially you on the road —
Tags: building community, diy, diy music, indie music, marian-call, something fierce
I leave for my first Europe tour (as a singer-songwriter) in a matter of hours. I cannot believe it. It still stuns me when I come up with a crazy idea and somehow it works and then here I am doing it. There is one million more work before me, for the plane I suppose, but I’ll call it quits now and sleep. It’s just mountains beyond mountains. I’ll see you tomorrow, Boston and Reykjavik and Amsterdam.
But before I collapse, I just stumbled on this little poem-ish treatise I wrote last year in a late-night fever dream for the digital liner notes of Something Fierce (which comes out on November 13th, 2012). I never posted these thoughts here on the blog, and I very much need to. Because fresh off an incredible exhilarating singalong all-request concert at Tommy Doyle’s, bound for a bigger scarier tour than I’ve attempted before, these are the thoughts pounding in my head, begging to be let out at 5am:
A lot of people refer to my music, and to the music of other such unsigned new media upstarts, as D.I.Y. …Do It Yourself.
And there’s comfort in that description — it’s a security blanket — it explains the haphazard website, the production and logistics flaws, the little transparent studio mistakes, the off notes.
But D.I.Y. is a misnomer. I have never been more reliant on people than I am today. When the audience buys directly from the artist, we are as interconnected as we can possibly be.
I have never been so acutely aware that I could not do this myself.
Every person who decides to listen, to buy, to attend, to say good or bad things about the art to their friends — my career is all tied up in them, for better and for worse.
Mostly for better in my case because I want to learn to live in gratitude.
It’s not as if listeners own artists — it’s just that we’re entangled now. [We can’t help it.]
The once-formidable middle men are reduced to mere 1’s and 0’s, and we are no longer insulated from our interdependence.
SO we need a term for our new reliance, our new leaning on each other.
Some clever acronym or sound bite.
I don’t know how to name it, but I know we need to.
Because this is not D.I.Y.; it’s quite the opposite.
It’s a barn-raising and a fire brigade and a potluck with extra desserts.
This is not art by committee,
This is art through community.
I don’t have unmitigated good feelings about the artist relying completely on the audience like I do. It can be exhausting, and it has the potential to water down the art. Really the fact is that doing art for a living is hard, and it has always been hard for some reason, and it probably always will be. And this is the new landscape and the modern challenge.
But let’s not frame it as a question of independence, of “indie”-ness (not in the “social media musician” sphere anyway). The questions now are about how to cope with our interdependence — how to still make arresting, interesting art when our all-important audience might react badly — how to ask for funds when everyone else we ever knew is also asking for funds — how to find genuine honest community, even as the word “community” is losing its meaning through corporate buzzword overuse. These are the issues I’m confronting as I make art and as I consume it.
I love the new frontier. I love the future of music. I loved the crowd at my concert tonight more than words can say, and I felt very free during the show. But it’s not a solo sprint and it never was. It’s truly a barn-raising, complete with splinters and strong personalities and barnyard smells. Going it alone is not the new world. Learning how we work together is.
Tags: album release, american songwriter, aol, diy, green light go, indie, indie music, mad mackerel, marian-call, Music, new album, npr, paste, something fierce, songwriter, spinner, vocalist, world cafe
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
This blog is for those of you who are already fans of mine, as we’ll go behind the scenes a bit:
Gather ’round, O Best Beloved, because I have something very important to tell you. This is kind big news in the Marian Callisphere, and it involves both a game and a party.
So! Last October I self-published a double album called Something Fierce. I worked on it for years, and I’m proud of it and it’s awesome. And because it’s sort of my magnum opus to date, I decided to push it out of the nest.
We’re gonna try for some bigger press now thru November. You guys have said for years: “Get on All Songs Considered Marian! Get on World Cafe! Get on Mountain Stage! Get in Paste and Spin!” This is how we try, and you are all the gatekeeper and the keymaster.
Something Fierce has a new global RELEASE DATE.*
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
And you’re invited. We’ve already put out two singles. Here’s where you come in, O Most Beloved.
You guys ask me all the time how we can get to NPR-Paste-etc. We now have a way. And it really ALOTALOT depends on you. I’ve told the press that you, the fans, are super engaged, and now I need you to prove me truthy and not lieful.** When a music publication, big or small, posts about an artist, how do we tell them we want more of this artist in the press?
I mean comments, mostly, and referring to articles in other articles. Say you’re a little music blog, and you post a song by an unknown artist every day, and mostly you get a few hundred hits, but suddenly hordes of people visit & comment on & share an artist’s page for a day. How would you think about that post and that artist? You’d think you struck gold. And what would other music bloggers think? That they’d better not miss the bandwagon and be late. And what will big media outlets think when that artist crosses their desk and they’re deciding who to review?
Let’s make them think it. Let’s DO THIS!
I am going Adventure Questing in Europe next month, but wherever you are in the world, I invite you to go Adventure Questing with me. No money required; these are riddles and puzzles to solve, small tasks to complete, a little Golden Fleece journey for you that will hopefully create a little buzz.
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
- is when my album drops again. This just became a list, poof.
- Starting November 1st, I will be issuing you one task per day for 13 days on Twitter and at MarianCallAdventureQuest.com.***
- Your task might be to post a comment on an article in haiku, or to draw a doodle of a lyric and post it hashtagged on Twitter, or to write a comment where each word starts with the letters of the last word in the before you (remember our limerick contest guys? Peter Sagal announced the results). They will be small internet tasks, little 2-minute treasure chests and dungeon crawls, and will involve lots of Us Guys rewarding media outlets that feature the record.****
- If you complete every Adventure Quest task by November 13th and send me screencaps by email, you will be entered to win some sincerely excellent and very real prizes, digital and physical, with shipping anywhere in the world.
- Yes, you can do them all on the last day if you want, Procrastinatey McJones. It doesn’t matter if you’re right on the nose with your dates. Just finish before midnight on the 13th Hawaii time to be part of the crew.
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
Is the date sticking for you yet? I will spend my morning in Amsterdam and my afternoon/evening in Dublin, and guys, we are going to HAVE A PARRTY! By which I mean GOOGLE HANGOUT AND TWITTER PARTY! I’d like to invite you to have brunch with me in Amsterdam, then pub fare and Guinness or Killian’s or Harper with me in Dublin, no matter what your time zone. When I’m not flying, I will be online several times through the day talking with you guys, answering any and every question, doing goofy things on camera, potentially drinking a little too much, and celebrating this awesome record that ate several years of my life. I will try to get some special guests to join our Hangout and say hi, I will draw prize winners, and I will definitely sing for you in public places which will probably be embarrassing.
You guys, American Songwriter has already agreed to feature the album on their site all day on NOVEMBER 13TH, and so has AOL/Spinner. OMG OMG OMG. We released two singles to the media to promote, and for some reason “Dear Mister Darcy” is taking off at over 3000 downloads; we can’t even figure out why. We will get more media on the hook if we can only deliver the audience. With building momentum World Cafe and Paste and NPR might be someday be within reach. THIS IS BIG.
But only you can make it happen. So join me Adventure Questing if you wish! For all those times you guys have told me to get on NPR, now you have the power to Make It So!
November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce
Do you want to do something now? Here are further action items if you want them. But only if you want them. I don’t expect this sort of involvement, I’m grateful for you guys beyond belief; but I do want to focus those of you who have asked to help.
- Go download a track here and leave a comment: http://madmackerel.org/2012/09/11/marian-call-readies-something-fierce-for-release/. They’re free on purpose. If you already have the music, send the track to a friend — surprise them. Send the link to this article to a local radio station or DJ.
- Here are some articles that need some love. Comment or share real quick, and I dare you to do it in Subtle Haiku (no line breaks, but a clear haiku structure that other readers will recognize): post 1 post 2 post 3 post 4. Tweet me links or send me screencaps if you want to show off your handiwork!
- If you have a blog, write a teeny review of your favorite song or concert experience. Include a link to the blog above, or some other blog, since that really helps. If you don’t know what to say, just post lyrics and then tell a nice story that seems tangentially related, like this.
- If you posted a blog about me ages ago, circulate the link one more time now, or post a follow-up, gloating that you were in on the ground floor of something awesome. Tell everyone you were right.
- Comment on iTunes or Amazon or listen on Spotify, which shows up on Facebook. (Note that my preferred listening/purchase link to actually benefit me is Bandcamp.)
- If you are allowed to play music where you work, spin the album a couple times before November 13th. Tell people you are cool enough to have gotten this record before the global release because you’re that hip to new music. You don’t need it with you, you can just listen online. (Don’t annoy anyone please.)
- Pester your local DJ — most can play the music from the web now, so bother them with the link and say the album’s coming out soon. And hey, pester your local weekly paper’s music reviewer, and your local NPR affiliate too, along with the national tastemaker stations (KUT, KEXP, KCRW, WGBH, WBUR, WHYY, WNYC and more). If you need a press release for singles 1 and 2 or a bio, we have them.
- I could use a little web help November 1st-14th, because obviously I will be running around Europe when I need to be posting stuff and answering questions. If you’re interested, e-mail email@example.com with the subject line “Adventure Quest-keteer.”
Any volunteer work that you feel like doing, I will equip you for. Any questions you have, I will answer. A few answers from the asterisks above are below.
I owe all of this to you guys, and that’s why I work so hard and run so fast. I want to do my best for you, and I want to do the most for you. I am excited to see all of you I can see in the Northeast of the US, the Southeast of Canada, and Europe. And I’m super super super excited to raise a Guinness to all of you on — what date?
NOVEMBER 13TH 2012!!!
*Why release your album again? This is very normal for indie albums actually, in part because media outlets have almost no interest in reviewing an artist unless a Big Album Release is coming up. So I have an awesome publicist, and they’re trying to get some media attention, so the Big Album Release is coming up!
**We are pitching me to media outlets as a social media musician with an engaged fanbase. So woe is me if my fanbase stays silent when Paste finally gives me an article. We have to prove that my press releases are true! Mostly I don’t post articles about me (it’s rude) but for the next little while I’ll need to, and I’ll be hoping and wishing you guys will show them you’re listening.
***That site is not ready yet. Sorry. I was getting this site ready. November 13th.
****I promised you once, after my first Shortys encounter, and I’d like to reaffirm my promise: I will never ever ask you to “vote for me” in any sort of internet competition. I have some dignity at least.
Tags: bandcamp, digital music distribution, experimental, free music, illegal downloading, Music, music distribution, piracy, scholarship, unemployed
(Obligatory artist marketing message: you should buy some copies of my album for the holidays, by the way, or for future all-purpose gifts, or for yourself! At Bandcamp.com you get an instant DRM-free download even if you order the physical CD, at Amazon.com you can get super saver shipping. Plus it’s on iTunes and CDBaby and other places. Help an indie artist out and DO IT!)
And now that my album’s released I’m confronting this problem that I think a lot of artists face. Other artists might not know they face it, but since I talk with my fans all day on social media I’m acutely aware of it. Here’s how it goes:
ACT I SCENE I
Longtime Devoted Fan: OMG MARIAN I LOVE YOUR NEW ALBUM! It’s everything you promised!
Marian: Here, buy a copy! I made it for you since you’ve been so supportive and friendly and awesome!
L.D.F.: Um…..well….I am gonna do that FIRST THING when I get a job again. Or pay off my ridiculous health care costs. Or get my kids shoes that don’t hurt their feet. Or I’ll beg for it for a gift. Because…. [L.D.F. switches to private message or e-mail] …..I kind of really can’t afford it right now. Or anytime soon. At this time my money is for food, not music.
Marian: But……but I made it for you. Take it for free! You’ve always been there for me!
Chorus of the Ghosts of Indie Musicians: But isn’t that devaluing your art? Not to mention contributing to this awful Race To The Bottom that will undermine our economy and bankrupt hardworking artists? Where will this end? With all of us giving up our dreams and becoming insurance adjusters? Shaaaaame ooooon yoooooou.
Credit Card Company + Hospital, in unison: Hey, Marian? About these monthly bills —
L.D.F.: They’re right! Your music is worth money and I support you! So I refuse to download it like a piratey pirate! Also I’m gonna go cry into my ramen now.
Marian: Me too. Into my ramen though, not yours.
EXEUNT L.D.F., Chorus, Bill Collectors. Marian is left alone; she crosses DSC. Lighting cue: follow spot.
Marian: [heavy sigh] If only I could give away my music to folks who are out of work or strapped for cash – without contributing to the problematic modern mindset that art for free is OK!
ENTER Donors’ Circle, fast & awkward, Kramer-style, wearing superhero costume. D.C. Leaps into follow spot with a flourish.
Donors’ Circle: I’m here to help with that!
It’s a fact that a lot of people I love are struggling financially right now. And asking them to buy my music feels kinda crass. But withholding music from people I love also feels yucky. I have been there, and I needed music then more than ever to get through it. Some of the most important albums of my life that helped me survive is stuff I ripped from friends when I had nothing BUT music.
SO! On the recommendation of a brilliant member of the Donors’ Circle, I thought I would try something a little different. Below you’ll find an application for a sort of scholarship program — I’m calling it the Pseudo-Scholarship Fund, since I’m not sure what the legal ramifications of actually calling it a scholarship might be. This program means you can get a legit digital copy of the album for free if you can’t afford it — but an anonymous donor will be paying for it. SO! Free to you, but still paid for, and therefore not without value.
Does this make sense?
I hope it works, at least for a few of you. We’ll run it through December 31st, 2011, and if there’s more interest, possibly longer. We’ll need two groups of people: folks who want to get/give the album but can’t afford it, and folks who want to fund the project. [Note, April 2013 : it’s still running! Just be sure to email us if you fill out a form!]
If you apply, you’ll get the music & liner notes at no cost to you, but I will ask you for something — I’ll ask you to join the mailing list, tell someone about the album, leave a review, or come to a concert. And I’ll try to make it really easy to do that.
*Note: you are welcome to apply and give the album as a gift. I know some of you said you would give the album as a holiday or birthday gift, but you can’t afford to buy it (or buy an extra copy). And you’re too honorable to rip & burn it for free — you blessed few — so here, this is your chance. Get the download code, write it on a paper heart, put it in a little origami box made out of brown bags and gold stars, and give it to someone for a holiday/birthday/specialness present. (Ooh, and use googly eyes. You can never have enough gold stars and googly eyes on a present. It’s all about presentation, and good presentation can be cheap.)
I’m into solutions and this seems like a solution. Thank you, Donors’ Circle, for coming up with this one. And thanks to you who are funding it, either one album or dozens – this is the coolest thing ever.
DETAILS AND STUFF:
If you’re interested in applying for an album, to keep or to give away, just fill out the Pseudo-Scholarship Fund form below — you can also find it at this link here. You should hear from us within 2-3 business days to either give you your download code & congratulations, or to let you know you’re on a waiting list. [Update from April 2013: send us an email if you apply at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we know you have entered your info!]
If you’re interested in funding an album for someone like L.D.F., you can send money via Paypal to email@example.com and make a note that it’s for the Psuedo-Scholarship Fund. $15 pays for one album; you can send that amount right now if you want by clicking here. Or send an e-mail if you want to pay by some other method than Paypal, I’m more than happy to arrange that. We’ll be in touch within two or three business days to confirm we’ve applied the money where it’s supposed to go, and to express our thanks.
Acceptance of applicants will be at our discretion, but if you apply (and you’re not rude and you answer all the questions) you’ll probably be accepted, and if you’re accepted and there are funds in the account, you’ll be sent a digital download of the album, which includes a PDF of the gorgeous liner notes. And we’ll add you to the Marian Call e-mail list, and possibly ask you to share/review the album or do some other small thing like that to pay it forward.
Let us know if you encounter any hitches (the most common involves our messages to you going to a spam filter). Questions & observations can go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go to it!
Tags: alaska, album, anchorage, avocado song, bandcamp, buy album, cd, from alaska, marian-call, Music, musician, new album, order, pre-order, singer, singer-songwriter, something fierce
**Update: the autographed CD’s are now sold out, but you can still pre-order the CD — it’ll come shrink-wrapped and all ready for you to get signed at a show sometime!**
IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE! AFTER TWO AND A HALF YEARS SOMETHING FIERCE IS HERE!
I’ve been yelling about this a lot so I’ll try to calm down, quit spinning, and give you all the details. And I’ll briefly stop saying thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. (Though I can never ever be grateful enough for your patience and support. I’m gonna make like an NPR station during pledge week pretty soon and compulsively send you all tote bags out of gratitude.)
The record will drop on OCTOBER FIRST TWO THOUSAND ELEVEN! According to Google, October first is also Julie Andrews’ birthday, the anniversary of the creation of Mensa, and the Texarkana Egg Fest. An auspicious day. The record will be available to download on that day, from anywhere in the world, through Bandcamp.com. Physical CD’s will start shipping that week, so you should receive them shortly after that. If you pre-order the album, digital or physical, you’ll get an e-mail the moment it’s released with the entire record as a download all ready to go!
Wanna know how it sounds? The tracks “Anchorage” and “Good Morning Moon” have already been released as singles, and I’ve posted some samples of a few more on Soundcloud for your listening enjoyment. And I’ve written a few vulnerable artsy thoughts about the record, too. I hope you like it so much!
Here is how you can pre-order Something Fierce. And you should, so that I can afford to print it for you.
Digital pre-orders! For you modern types.
If you pre-order your fabulous digital double-album through Bandcamp, you’ll get a little bit of music now — if you like — and on the first of October you’ll automatically receive your tracks and shiny digital album art to download! So go ahead and pick it up now. Price is about $15.00 or whatever you feel beyond that. If you have any issues at all, e-mail me or Katie at mcminion42*at*gmail.com. Thank you!
CD pre-orders! For you who need something to
play frisbee hold.
I’ll be signing 500 copies of the physical CD for you early birds! So if you order now, your album/s will come autographed (no dedications, sorry. Bring it to me at a show and I’ll sign it to you). If you buy the CD, you’ll also get the album as a download that will be delivered on October 1st — so however long the postal service takes to your corner of the world, you can still join the CD release party that day!
The double disc costs $25 autographed, a little less ($20) if you want to wait until the release and get a not-autographed copy. I’m absorbing a little of the cost of international S&H because I really want to keep overseas shipping affordable for my friends across borders!
I’m a CD person still — I buy physical discs and play full albums in my car and in my house. But I know there’s an environmental cost, and I’d like to minimize that where I can. So this is a carbon-neutral run of CD’s, or as close as we can get to it — they’re printed with soy ink on post-consumer recycled materials; the trays are made of recycled water bottles, and carbon credits are purchased to offset manufacturing and shipping.
**Donors’ Circle Members: remember that you’re entitled to two free copies of the record if you like! There are other goodies for you as well. Be sure to fill out the form I sent you in order to receive your benefits. But if you want to order more copies, these links above are for you. Any questions, just e-mail me or Katie at mcminion42*at*gmail.com!
And thank you thank you thank you thank you for your order. I fantasize about this all going very smoothly. (But it never seems to go completely perfect. So if you have any issues along the way, just let me know, mcminion42*at*gmail.com, and we’ll do our very best to get it sorted.)
Bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce.
If you want to know more about the record itself, here are some details. Something Fierce is a double album with two parts — vol. I: Good Luck With That and vol. II: from Alaska.
I announced the album and formed the Donors’ Circle in March 2009, and I began writing songs and booking musicians for the project around that time. Recording began in November 2009 and has continued up to last week — at intervals between touring — we did studio work in Seattle, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Austin, and Anchorage. About thirty people made noises for the record, and over a hundred fans helped to fund it. I did all the editing myself before, during, and after the 49>50 Tour, and this spring I even added some songs written on that journey.
Here’s a track list so you can see if your favorite song from the live shows is on Something Fierce (track order not necessarily finalized):
Something Fierce, vol. I: Good Luck With That
- Good Morning Moon
- The Avocado Song
- Highway Five
- Dear Mister Darcy
- All New (Heart Shut Tight)
- Temporal Dominoes
- Press or Say Three (your call is important to us)
- Ina Flew the Coop
- Free Bird
Something Fierce, vol. II: from Alaska
- Whistle While You Wait
- Early Is as Early Does
- I Wish I Were a Real Alaskan Girl
- The Underground (One Bird at a Time)
- Coffee by Numbers (Faon’s Song)
- Perilous Road
- Aurora Borealis
Things I’d love for you to know about this record:
- Some lines and songs are in fact inspired by friends on Twitter and Facebook. Usually they know if/when they’re to thank.
- I consumed enough fruit snacks while editing this record to feed a crowded day care center for a month.
- For this record my mother played the turkey baster, my sister banged on her cello all over like a drum, my brother clicked a mechanical pencil and played his trumpet valves with his nose, my stepdad played the harp and jaw harp, Brian Adams shot his Hasselblad, and I played goat toenails and shook my dead cat’s ashes in a tin.
- You can perhaps hear a number of musical and lyrical compressions honoring Zelda, Dr. Horrible, Elizabeth Bennett, and a number of other fictional characters.
- I dare you to figure out which songs I wrote before, during, and after my divorce. You’ll probably be wrong. But there’s a lot more relationship stuff in this album than I’ve previously included, and it’s more vulnerable than what I’ve written in the past. I take a lot of musical/stylistic risks and I hope they pay off and move someone.
- One of the songs sounds like it’s about a breakup or an unhealthy relationship, but it’s actually an ode to a beer I fell completely in love with on first taste.
- There are really a lot more drums and a lot more noisy hollering of the sort I do on tour.
- The typewriter and rainstick can be heard on about half of the tracks, though they’re subtler than in the past.
- Several members of the Donors’ Circle sang and whistled along with the chorus of “Good Morning Moon” from their homes all over the world, and their voices are part of the record.
- Some songs and characters and scenarios were completely fictional, as in “Dear Mister Darcy,” until they came true to the letter. Spooky.
The physical product will be very pretty, I think. The two discs will come in a carbon-neutral matte digipak, and it will include a 16-page book with all the lyrics and gorgeous photos by my friend Brian Adams and illustrations by my amazing Mom, Karen Luke Fildes. My favorite part: no UPC code on the outside of the artwork. When the disc is sold retail (very very seldom), we’ll put the barcode on a sticker outside the shrink wrap — so once you open your music it will be simply that, music, with the UPC business hidden away in an inside corner with the credits and copyright information where you’ll hardly see it. Fans funded this project, and fans are mostly buying it straight from me, so the economic scope of this project is a little too simple to merit interfering with the artwork by adding a barcode to the outside. Somehow that feels right to me.
Here are some of my thoughts on the record from a little earlier this year. It’s a little different than what’s come before. The vocals sound a lot more like what you might hear at a live show, because I’ve done hundreds of live shows since I last went into the studio. Something Fierce is truly my own voice, and the voices of my community (including you guys!). And it represents a lot of growth musically and personally since Got to Fly, my last full-length album. It’s less overtly nerdy (remember Got to Fly was a commission about Firefly and BSG) and yet still laced with geekiness throughout. I hope hope hope hope hope that you like it. I hope it makes you feel something once in a while. I hope it’s art worth loving for a few of you, and worth enjoying for the rest of you.
Okay Marian, quit talking and get some rest.
P.S. If you think you’re going to like this, tell the world to get on board. http://mariancall.bandcamp.com/album/something-fierce is the link to share around the web.
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: https://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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!***
I’ve been taking a month or so at home to reflect, focus, and work on my Indie Cred. I understand that Indie Cred, or “Independent Credibility,” is very important — I learned that from Jennifer Lopez, who writes so compellingly about still being from the block. It is important to demonstrate to fans and colleagues that you have suffered an appropriate amount to deserve your carefree, indulgent, jet-setting independent musician lifestyle. And it is also important not to appear to enjoy your life too much, to always wear a slightly stern and melancholy “genuine” Indie Musician Face. It is also good to cultivate a “genuine” smell. The Flight of the Conchords knows all about Indie Cred. And after a year like this one, I could write a book on it, I swear. I could sell it to other aspiring penniless musicians. Here’s my premise for free, so nobody steal it:
You, too, can improve your Indie Cred in just twelve simple steps. They worked for me!
1. Sleep and work at strange hours, to maximize the probability that you’ll set your alarm for the wrong time.
2. Be able to carry your entire recording studio, as well as several instruments, in one load.
3. Do not record in the same place twice. Use a converted bus, back rooms at the local church, remote sheds, strangers’ houses, and friends’ closets. Keep your stalkers guessing.
4. Get accustomed to sleeping in ambient air temperatures. After a few weeks, forty degrees at night will not seem at all cold.
5. Housesit. As. Frequently. As. Possible.
6. When you don’t have the proper tools, improvise. Use a violin instead of a synthesizer; use a flashlight covered with a trash bag instead of a follow spot; use your phone instead of a computer; use your oven instead of a heater; use your dead cat instead of a shaker.
7. Walk the fine line between seeking approval and being a snob. Don’t be on time for appointments, lest you look too eager, but also try to be stood up by important people as often as it is convenient.
8. Know by heart the menus of all the hip restaurants in town at which a body can eat for less than $5 without seeming cheap.
9. Be seen one day wearing very fancy clothing and makeup and the next looking haggard and worn from lack of sleep and makeup. Imagine that this will surely get everyone talking about your Big Important Project and your Dedication. Then remember that they actually don’t care. (Nobody Caring is a sure sign you have Indie Cred.)
10. Perform work associated with at least ten different occupations daily.
11. Wear holes in your clothing the old-fashioned way: with wear.
12. Showers = optional.
(But always know where your towel is.)
This is an excerpt from an older blog entry of mine because this little segment wanted its own home to link to. As I’m finishing a new album I find it bitingly pertinent once again. Enjoy!
So. Last week this thing happened, and it blew my mind and stuff. Thought I’d share it with all y’all.
I played a concert at Whole Wheat Radio in Talkeetna, Alaska last Friday that streamed live around the globe. This was my third appearance at Whole Wheat, and I’m becoming sort of a junkie for their online wiki radio station as well as their actual house concerts. I’ll be driving up to hear Melissa Mitchell and Spiff Chambers there next month. Talkeetna is pretty close to heaven on earth for a scenery/baked goods/music/bacon lover.
(Incidentally you can download Friday’s WWR concert, in its entirety, here, along with tons of other amazing acoustic concerts Jim and Esther have hosted at their cabin in the woods. Free live music = good! Get some!)
Lately I’m waist-deep in a massive recording project, so it’s been over a year since I’ve released any new music. My Twitter and Facebook friend-fans remind me daily that I ought to provide more tuneage. (Why is Twitter so awesome for musicians? Because I can simply ask my listeners what they want, and they can tell me, in real time. Also they can answer my questions about wireless routers and insult my Momma in real time.)
So at the WWR show, I decided to release a CD of raw-sounding live concert cuts. I called it the Marian Call Bootleg CD. It would be available for one night only. In all of two hours I came up with the track list, advertised it on my many many social networks, and set up the sales mechanism online. I snagged a spindle of blank CD’s to burn on my laptop, a few jewel cases, and I was good to go. Presto! The future is now. The two-hour CD release is simple.
About twice a week I think, “Why don’t I try this crazy idea and see if it works?” about some element of my career. With no label, no manager, and no inner voice of reason slow me down, I get to experiment all I want. 90% of my crazy ideas have to do with social networking — which I spend half a lifetime doing, despite the crap I take from my family and Real Life friends. (Hey, some of us actually do bond over web comics, starship replicas, the fail whale, and photos of stuff on cats.) Mostly my nutty ideas work just a little bit. Some are epic failures. But my experimental flopping and floundering inches me closer to the day when I’ll be totally financially independent as a full-time musician. Plus it’s more fun than having a real job.
But every now and then a crazy idea works really really really good. Bam!*
I planned to sell 20-40 of my little bootleg CD’s. Silly me. I sold well over 200. My little stack of jewel cases looked so pathetic.
WholeWheatRadio.org broke every record for online listenership, CD sales, tips — everything. The more listeners tuned in, the more tuned in, and the more money they gave, the more money they gave. The crowd online was thrilled to be breaking WWR records. I drove away from Talkeetna having earned about $4,000 in one night, with a new CD to produce in just a couple of days and an avalanche of e-mail and publicity requests to deal with. Seldom have I been so happy and so panicked.
I ran home to Anchorage, got the disc commercially duplicated at a local joint that has helped me out before, printed up liner notes, and got busy stuffing and signing and smooching CD’s. I went through more lipstick in two hours than I do in the average month. I ran the discs up to Talkeetna, stopping along the way for a quick interview with Alaska Dispatch, and we tried to get them all mailed to their proper owners. It was a helluva week for Jim Kloss of WWR and me. (Thank you, Jim.)
Here’s a video from the concert, BTW, thanks to @akcook. Punk mandolin and zombies. We had muchly fun that night!
I can’t entirely explain this minor windfall. I am certainly among the less “famous” artists Whole Wheat Radio has hosted. Yet I can speak to one contributing factor, and some of you have asked me to, so here goes my little rant:
I spend SO. MUCH. TIME. playing with friends on the internet, particularly on Twitter and Facebook — and I believe there is value in cultivating real relationships with people online. It’s an investment. I’ll use that word again: I am genuinely invested in the lives of my friends online. Not in selling online, not in promoting online, I’m invested in friends there. (Doubters on this count need only meet folks who actually know me IRL. I care. For reals. Pinky swear.)
Social networking doesn’t come easily to everyone, and I think that many musicians who find it difficult are trying to use it as a promotional tool. It’s not. I mean, it is, but — it’s not. It’s correspondence, sharing, like being pen pals with thousands of strangers. That’s both simpler and more fun than hacking away at a Facebook Fan Page that just won’t manifest any life or energy. What would you talk about with pen pals? You wouldn’t send them a list of all your shows. You’d tell them how your burnt your toast for breakfast and how the weather’s been kooky lately. Because those silly details are 90% of what relationships are made of. Social networks are notoriously frivolous and fluffy, because, well — we are. Human beings are mostly held together by fluff.
Businesses and musicians that succeed at social networking are the ones who create community somehow. There’s no trick to creating community: just abide by the golden rule. If you would be interesting, be interested.** I spend as much time reading Twitter as writing on it, and that’s a rule that enriches my life. If you want your online connections to care about your career/read your blog/comment on that Youtube video of your hamster, spend time doing that for them. Visit their websites, blogs, photo albums once in a while. I’m far from perfect at doing this, and I can never give all my online friends as much attention as I wish I could. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I need a clone.
But all this time I’m “wasting” fuzting on the internet, investigating what my friends are doing, is the only way I can repay the favor of the attention they give me. My listeners’ time is incredibly valuable, and they can spend it on a million things — any time they choose to spend on me is meaningful and ought to be honored and reciprocated, to the extent that’s possible on a scale of several thousand people. That effort is what moves us beyond a vendor-consumer relationship. I’m not in an independent singer-songwriter so I can vend to consumers. Gag.***
It takes a lot of hours, but I’m more than paid back for the time I spend on social networking. In cash-money a little, but in other forms of currency a LOT. Attention is currency. Friendship is currency. Conversation is currency. And as a traveling lonely musician, these mean a helluva lot more to me than money. Being alone on the road for months is only bearable because when something funny or frustrating or beautiful happens, I can share it with thousands of people I’ve never met on Twitter. And I can read thousands of 140-character true stories from other times and places and moods to remind me how small I am and how vast the world is.
That’s all I have to say about that. I’m happy to share a success story, because I meet a lot of musicians who are having a hard time navigating the changing music business. Often I’m one of them. Thanks to those of you who participated in my magical Friday night. The energy was amazing, your generosity was overwhelming, and I owe you everything. Stick around and I’ll do what I can for you, though I’ll never have enough hours or enough brain cells to catch up completely on giving you what you deserve.
*Said I, a Lady. FTB.
**Yes, I am quoting Nathan Fillion’s myspace page. I learned a lot about social networking, online friendships, and healthy boundaries from that page. Thanks Nathan & friends from that little corner of the internet.
***If you’re all like, “Marian owes me an e-mail or a favor from ages ago!” or “How come she never goes to my website?” Well, A) I’m trying so hard I promise, B) fanmail/fan favors are the hardest stuff to answer, and C) if you chat with me on Twitter/#FB semi-regularly then I’ll get there. I follow 2,677 people on Twitter so I may not be entirely caught up on your life. Especially if you change your avatar. Also, D) I still need a clone, science.