Salt Lake City Memories

09/08/2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in General Nerdery, Just for Fun, Stories from the Road | Leave a comment

Tonight I’m in Cheyenne (and soon in Laramie), looking ahead to SALT LAKE CITY on Sunday night!  One of the prettiest places there is. If you’ve never flown in over the Wasatch and the colored lake at sunrise with a Supermoon on your starboard side, I can’t explain it.

Then we roll on to Colorado, which has been deserving my attention for far too long.  Colorado, I love you.  I’m sorry.  I hope you haven’t forgotten me.  I’ll be back through again next year.  Let’s be friends?

Marian Call Utah Trivia: SLC is the first place not-on-the-west-coast that I ever remember going in my young life. And it’s a short, funny story.

In middle school, I was so obsessed with Les Misérables that I wrote a script suitable for middle schoolers to perform, and in seventh grade we performed it (I was Enjolras).*  You should have seen my rewrites of “Master of the House” and “Lovely Ladies.” It was spectacularly Waiting for Guffman, I’m sure, but my classmates and I were dead serious about our production. It was heartfelt.

The real Les Misérables wasn’t coming anywhere near Seattle that year, so I convinced my dad we should organize a trip of school classmates over the summer to go see it in the closest city — that was Salt Lake.

We couldn’t afford it alone really, but I told my Dad we should coordinate a trip for a bunch of my classmates and chaperones, and have them pay a little extra for our very much legwork.  The extra bit of money would make it possible for me and my dad to lead the trip (he was the director of our school play, I wrote the script).

And that, boys and girls, is how I invented crowdfunding in the seventh grade. And how I visited Salt Lake City for the first time!

Loving the Mountain States, eating a peach and tomatoes from a Montana farmer’s market, attempting not to die from exhaustion because the drives are so long.  Love to all.



*My dialogue for the script, written in sixth grade, was based on the unabridged novel, not the musical. That’s a young nerd in the making.


Analog Blog: on Reading the Seasons

07/31/2013 at 8:04 pm | Posted in Analog Blog, Stories from the Road | 2 Comments

I have trouble finding time to blog.  Yet on airplanes I always have time to journal.  So here’s a blog I wrote on my flight home yesterday:

Just the paper and the pen and me.

This will probably turn into a longer, more comprehensive post about the nature of Kickstarter, crowdfunding, and fandom.  But not until every last shred of my Kickstarter is done.  For now, this is what I’ve learned this year.

It’s a good year.  I’ve had incredible shows.  Great audience turnout, great venues, not a regret.  But I plan to learn to be a better listener to the subtle signals in myself.  That is the beginning of health, I think.

Love to each,


AFP-style signoff photo

The Postcard Tour!!!

06/06/2013 at 7:15 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, News & Explanations, Stories from the Road | 5 Comments

Update!  Postcards I receive are now being Tumbl’d at!

I’m gonna sit write down and write you all a letter…

I have been sending a lot of handwritten notes lately.  They are good for the soul.  They are good for the everything.  Since I am going on tour now — for several months, all across the continent and possibly farther — I thought I would invite you to join me.

Will you send a friendly postcard to a stranger?  Because I will carry it to them for you!

by Patrick Race,

by Patrick Race -

This tour was actually rather difficult to name.  The Pony Express?  The Air Drop?  The Mail Bag tour?  The Mail Service tour?  Frankly when you say anything with the word “Mail” in it out loud, everybody giggles.  Particularly the words “Mail” and “Bag.” I am blushing even now.  #fünke

(I was entreated by some to call it the Postal Service Tour, which would have briefly boosted ticket sales and then surely backfired.)

So it is with great joy that I announce the POSTCARD TOUR!  I have new songs about sharks and dragons and Benedict Cumberbatch and railroad barons and TSA and lightning and power outages!  I am excited to come sing them for you!!!!!

I am driving all across the west, and later the east, for singing but also for carrying postcards from you and from me.  I hope you will bring some postcards to the show from the places you live or places you have been!*  I have hand-stitched a special Mail Bag (teehee) to carry them all from place to place, and I hope you will let me take your postcards to another town.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Come to a show — and bring a postcard, or use one of the many I have on hand.  If you can’t come to a show, you can mail me some!*
  2. I will supply the crayons and pens and stickers and gold stars.  Leave the postage and address areas blank, but feel free to cover the rest of the postcard, front and back, with anything you like.  Write a happy note to a stranger about where you live, what you like, how the show went, anything really.
  3. If you’re stumped about what to write, just draw a picture, write a poem, share a quote you like, leave a recipe or a book recommendation — anything.  Make contact with someone you don’t know.  Brighten their day one iota.  We can all use more of that.
  4. Leave your postcard in the basket before you go.  And if you put a postcard in — you will get to draw a postcard out of the bag from someone else!

At the moment the cards are mostly from Alaska and Texas, since those were my “seed” concerts to fill the Mail Bag (chortle).  But soon there will be cards from all over.  They’re already starting to come to my PO Box from other places.*

by everybody

So where will I be?

Today: Dallas.  This weekend: Austin and Houston.  Then Albuquerque, Tucson, Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, the Bay Area, Southern California, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Gig Harbor, SDCC, then much more of the West Coast, Alaska, all the Mountain States, a number of the Midwestern states I missed last year, and then a spin up and down the Eastern Seaboard in autumn.  The Southeast U.S. in spring.  And maybe more, as my body and my time allow.

Show info will be listed at or will come to you automatically if you sign up at (include your zip code!).  Facebook ( is a less reliable way to get announcements, but a good place to find event invitations.

I have been working on this for awhile, but I didn’t want to announce it until I had my awesome tour poster from Patrick Race.  Also I needed to fill my hand-stitched recycled Costa Rican burlap coffee sack with cards from friendly people.  Now I have told you all about it, and I will drive my cards all over the place in my Subaru.  See?

Photos by Marian and also childish stitching   Burlap is not so easy to work with.

Thanks to Heritage Coffee for the coffee sacks.  I picked the prettiest one and made a smaller sack out of the huge pieces of burlap that brought my coffee beans to me at home in Juneau.  I stitched on it all around Anchorage, Kodiak, Juneau, and Talkeetna.


Once upon a time, long long ago when I toured all fifty states (and most of Canada) in one year, I offered on Twitter to send a free handwritten postcard to anyone who wanted.  Trouble is, people want postcards a lot more than I thought they would.  Well over five hundred people signed up on my Google form — and I got to nearly two hundred by 2011 — and then I just had to let it go.  I had this job thing to do to make money to live.

This photo was hard to take.But I have not forgotten my postcard promise, and even though it’s been awhile I intend to fulfill it.  The original folks who signed up in 2010-11 will all ultimately get sent a postcard from me — hopefully most will find their owners.**  And I was thinking, you know, everyone could use a nice postcard, and I want to give everyone a love note, and maybe if I helped everyone give each other a love note, they might start to see themselves the way I do when I’m on tour — new town, new people, vastly different backgrounds and ideas, but all in need of a pretty picture and some scratches in pen and ink.  Or crayon.  Or just stickers.

So call me sentimental!  Cuz I am.  Come to the show, bring me or mail me a postcard to give to a stranger, and accept a love note from somebody else somewhere. I will read a lot of them and post photos of some of the interesting ones I find along the way.

I hope you will come say hello!  And hear my dragon song!  I have missed you guys.  Especially the Southwest and Mountain states.  It’s been much too long.

(I tried to take a photo in the mirror but as I have had very little practice with the Myspace angle all the photos made me look cross-eyed.  Still, I am too excited about my postcards tonight to contain myself.)

Now to sleep a little, wake up and answer all your questions and tweets, and then drive to Dallas for a show at one of my favorite venues.  Then Austin, Houston, Albuquerque, and Arizona.  *yawn* I’m having trouble with this Central Time thing.

Miscellaneous closing business:

*If you can’t make it to a show, you may send me postcards at Marian Call, PO Box 21781, Juneau AK 99802.  Fill them out, write a note to a stranger!  And leave the postage/address areas blank.  Mine is a small PO Box, so do not send a package — only regular-sized envelopes — or they may be returned.  I will not get the next batch until July.  But I would love to receive your postcards and add them to the party!

**If you signed up for a postcard so long ago but never received one, and your address has changed, send me your change of address at  I will try to mail you one from me by the end of the tour!

If you want to help the tour plug along, paying some postage for the Marian Call Postal Express as it were, I am always very grateful.  If you feel moved to tip $5, tip $10, tip $25, or pledge at the Nerd Solidarity Level ($42), that’s the only way I keep rolling; I am deeply thankful for the help.  Or pick up some songs at Bandcamp for yourself or for a friend.  Because those are the kinds of postcards I truly specialize in sending.

Tour dates

More info on house concerts

Q&A about concert attendance

You can contact Marian at  She might be slow at answering since travel is about to get really face-meltingly intense.

Thank you!

End of May Hike

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  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.

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:


(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, 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!


(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:


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: (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.


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.

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  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

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.)


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*  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*

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

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 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

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 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!

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