Something Fierce is here!

10/01/2011 at 9:08 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, Music, News & Explanations | 13 Comments
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Batten your hatches.  This is simple.  I’ll try to use small words.

Listen to the album for free: or

Buy the CD cuz if you buy the CD you get a complimentary immediate digital download:

Buy just the digital:

View the really fun music video collaboration with Awkward Embraces:

Read all the lyrics:

View the liner notes the way they ought to be, with tons of extra photos by Brian Adams:
(Protip:  select “slideshow”)

Embed a player on a website:
<iframe width=”400″ height=”100″ style=”position: relative; display: block; width: 400px; height: 100px;” src=”; allowtransparency=”true” frameborder=”0″><a href=””>Something Fierce by Marian Call</a></iframe>

Tell your friends on Twitter: post about @mariancall, hashtag #somethingfierce

Tell your friends on Facebook:

Tell your friends on G+:

Have a question for Marian about the album, anonymous or otherwise:

Need help with anything:

I hope you like it!  *nervousface* *also thankfulface*

I’m off to revise the entire interwebs about me now.  ‘Bye.


Something Fierce this way comes

09/03/2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in How to this-or-that, Music, News & Explanations | 10 Comments
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**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!**



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  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*  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*!

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*, 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

  1. Good Morning Moon
  2. The Avocado Song
  3. Highway Five
  4. Dear Mister Darcy
  5. All New (Heart Shut Tight)
  6. Temporal Dominoes
  7. Press or Say Three (your call is important to us)
  8. Ina Flew the Coop
  9. Free Bird

Something Fierce, vol. II:  from Alaska

  1. Whistle While You Wait
  2. Early Is as Early Does
  3. I Wish I Were a Real Alaskan Girl
  4. The Underground (One Bird at a Time)
  5. Coffee by Numbers (Faon’s Song)
  6. Equinox
  7. E.S.B.
  8. Perilous Road
  9. Aurora Borealis
  10. Anchorage

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. is the link to share around the web.

One Song Left.

06/18/2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Stories from Alaska | Comments Off on One Song Left.
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It’s 3am, I have a headache from HTML and ProTools, and I leave on a jet plane Sunday to start my traveling again (DC!  NYC!  Philly!  Cambridge!  Look Lively!).  Glory Moses I’m tired.  Feels like I just got done with the last tour, even though I’ve mostly been home for six months.

But I’m thankful.  I’m sitting here thinking how much a collection of friends and strangers online has come to mean to me — lots of individuals, but the whole community too.  I’m about to finish a project you guys have helped see me through, some of you for more than two years.  Some of you gave money, tons of you gave encouragement, thousands have come to shows now.  I’m sorta blown away.  I am really thankful to you.  And I take my responsibility to you very seriously.  I’m happy to come see some of you again, I wish I could see you all.

(Sorry, sleep-deprived headachey Marian = sappy serious 3am blog post I may regret.  Feel free to skip and return when I’m wittier & more amusing (and that’s a sincere, not a sarcastic invitation).)

I’m finding this album tough to finish — it’s called Something Fierce, and release announcements and pre-sales are imminent.  I mean, it’s hard to finish for the usual reason: the total amount of “Stuff Marian Takes On” over “Time Marian Actually Has” always winds up with a remainder, at the moment probably about 7/5.  But it’s also hard to finish because it’s just…big.  I feel the weight of how much people have helped me with this and invested in it.  I wonder how it will be received.  I know I’ll get some of my first proper critiques.  I know some people will like other versions of things better.  And I know I’ll always be vaguely amazed that it’s not sitting on my shoulders anymore like a big cat, the way it has been since early 2009.  It’s heavy but it’s also kept me grounded.

Let’s go back in time a bit, since few of you are clear on the chronology:  I launched this album project with a fundraiser in early 2009 when I had just separated from my husband of 6 years and I was in Seattle, far from Alaska, alone with no car or home or income.  It was quite a shock landing there.  After sitting on the curb for a month wondering what to do, announcing Something Fierce was my first step forward.  It was a thing to walk toward so I could get up, get moving, and either become an artist or give it up and go be a secretary or waitress.  A lot of you guys took care of me back then, as I launched into about a year of having nowhere to live and no income except what I earned singing for my supper and fundraising for the record.  And all that help is hard for an independent lady to stomach.  But I tell you what, for every time you have ever tipped a street or bar or online musician, dear reader, I am thankful.  For every dime you’ve launched into a kickstarter project, I owe you one.

I bought a car with no money in Seattle — not sure why they let me have it — and I drove and drove until I got back to Alaska.  I had never driven long distance before, I had always been driven around by others.  But for the first time I was behind the wheel.  When I made it back to Anchorage I started laying groundwork for the record, and I began laying down audio in November 2009.

It’s 2011 now, and I’ve recorded with nearly thirty people in New York, LA, Seattle, Texas, and Anchorage, with a hiatus to play all fifty states + 5 provinces.  And in the end I don’t know whether all that will be worth it for the audio that comes out.  But it will be worth it for the meaning.  The process means a lot to me.  The people mean a lot to me.  For example, the project was missing a few folks who came to be part of my music community after the bulk of the recording was done.  But I got a few chances this spring to record pickups, and I jumped on the chance to get Bryan Ray, Brandon Cockburn, Errol Bressler, Aaron Benolkin, and Nick Petumenos in the studio.  And I’m so happy I did, because now their voices (drums, guitars, bass, pedal steel, engineering) are on the record.  It feels more complete with them than if I’d released it sooner.  When I hear a song recorded in five different cities, all these musicians I love are in the same space for a second.  And that’s more home than anywhere I’ve been since 2009.

Something Fierce is not as funny or geeky as the last few things I’ve released.  Got to Fly was commissioned to be about geek stuff, and I like to release funny singles, but this record is just straight Marian, recalling my first record, Vanilla.  Marian happens to be a geek, so this art happens to be a geek’s experience of a long stretch of road.  But instead of fiction it’s fact;  it’s a couple years of couch-crashing, debt, penance, illness, insane travel, recession, divorce, and reinvention.  That’s not to say it’s dark.  But it’s not sunny.  It’s dappled light — with interesting clouds, the thick substantial ones that might and might not become weather.  Like “Anchorage,” if you’ve heard it.

Why say this now?  I have no idea.  3am headaches while working on your last song will do that to you I suppose.  And perhaps I feel a need to confess and disclaim as I finish.  Not because I think the product is unworthy, but because it’s honest, and honesty evokes a little confession and a little context, even when it’s not required.

I’m not sure what happens after this record is not on my shoulders anymore.  I don’t know where the compass will point exactly, this record has been my Polaris for so long — I might spin for a bit.  But mostly I don’t know how I could ever have enough days or words or songs to hug and thank all of you.  It would require more sustained gratitude and sincerity than I think most humans are capable of at my age.  I try, but I keep lapsing.

Perhaps the sheer number of you folks out there (you awesome amazing folks) is starting to frustrate my impulses for deeper connection; it’s hard as this group of fans changes from “y’all” to “all y’all. ” I find myself protesting often how deeply I feel for my online community, and I think that’s mostly because I don’t have the time anymore to pay you each as much attention as I feel is fair for all the investment you’ve put into me.  That imbalance bothers me, though it can’t be helped.  Anyway I’m so thankful to you, if you’re reading this, for getting me through the last two years and into the next one.  Even if you never paid a dime, your attention for a moment ultimately helped/helps to make this record I’m about to finish, and your attention is precious.  You didn’t have to spend it here.  I’m grateful.

Oh Marian, be quiet and get to work making a kickass record.  It’s 4am already, time’s a-wastin’.

(But seriously.  I hope you like it.)


Fundraiser 2011: Releasing Something Fierce!

04/12/2011 at 11:41 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, News & Explanations | 5 Comments
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**Update: fundraiser now closed.  Thank you so much for contributing!**

As of about 3am yesterday morning, I’ve finished one of two discs of Something Fierce, the new album that’s been in production for over a year and a half now.  Still more work to go, but I’m racing to the finish and want to release it VERY SOON.

When, you ask?  I’m so, so afraid that if I name a date before I have a master, I’ll jinx it.  But VERY SOON.  I’m planning so hard.

That means it’s time for the final push of fundraising to release the album.  Why fundraise? Read the highlighted bits of this blog from last year (scroll down) to answer that very good question.  What production expenses remain? Only a few, but they’re pricey ones — mixing and mastering, artwork, duplication, shipping, and the bare essentials of promotional materials.  Plus Marian’s survival on Spaghetti-O’s until the album comes out.

Fundraiser Stuff is going on sale Monday, April 18th, roughly midday AKST and the auction will close during that week, at staggered hours on 4/22.  I strive to think up the awesomest and strangest stuff to give you guys at Fundraiser Time.  Here’s what you can enjoy this year, in a wide price range, scroll down for more on each item:

  • Autographed personalized poster (for Something Fierce!) with the crowd favorite library photo by Brian Adams, $15 +S&H
  • Custom ultra-sassy jewelry by Bella Boutique’s @anniepants: #frakabanjo necklaces, dog tags, and actual banjos, $30 +S&H and up
  • A voicemail from Marian singing your favorite verses right to you, $25
  • T-shirts and tote bags, print to order at (these are actually available anytime)
  • On the Auction Block: 2 sets of framed handwritten lyrics, “Anchorage” and “Highway Five”
  • On the Auction Block: 3 cover songs.  Bid and tell Marian what you want her to record and release for you!
  • On the Auction Block: my beloved rainstick, which has played in all 50 states and most of Canada, with thanks to TSA for letting me keep it despite its appearances. Half the proceeds from this item go to flood relief in Australia. Why? See below.
  • Still room for a few folks on the Donors’ Circle, meaning you get tons of exclusive goodies when the album’s released

There are details and limited quantities and such on all these, so scroll down and read up on the item you want and please, pay attention to instructions so you don’t miss out or mess up.  Again, links to purchase/bid are below, on this exact same blog post.  You can always ask me specific questions via FB, e-mail, or Twitter.

If all that’s a little rich for your blood and you just want to support, or if you don’t care about getting stuffs, you can simply tip $5, tip $10, tip $25, tip $42 (the geek solidarity pledge!), pick up of my some tunes at Bandcamp, or give $200 or more to join the Donors’ Circle funding the new album.

And hey, if you got no money, that’s ok.  I have oft been there myself.  If you want to support without money, just talk about it, buzz about it, tweet or facebook or call Grandma about it.  I am so thankful for your support, and listening and talking about the music is the best possible gift.  Dollars come and just as quickly go.  Songs in other people’s lives, those stick around.  So don’t worry, I don’t calculate fan devotion in dollars. That would be stoopid.

But first!  The reason it’s worth buying this stuff, tipping, talking about the project, or joining the Donors’ Circle** — besides the fact I think it’s really cool stuff — VOILÀ!  Behold, for the first time in public:

That’s right.  These are first draft album covers.  Artwork not yet final, photos by the totally incredible Brian Adams, originally from Alaska, now living in Brooklyn.  This project features a lot of his work — the double disc will be as much an art project as a music project.  It will have all the lyrics inside.  It will be gorgeous to hold.  It will be made from post-consumer recycled materials and nearly carbon-neutral.  (Update: oh yeah, you’ve seen the Volume II cover on Bandcamp, but the Volume I cover was the big reveal, and is pretty much my favorite photo Brian & I have ever taken.)

As soon as I have a master in hand, I’ll begin pre-orders.  And yes, I will be taking a waiting list to print beautiful beautiful vinyl.  It’ll be exceedingly spendy, but if you want it, I’ll print it.  Anything for you.

(And yes, that is the O.E.D. over my head in my local public library.)

Personalized Autographed Posters

The poster to match the new album is out, with a much-celebrated photo by Brian Adams of Marian in the reading room of her local library (under the O.E.D.).  Only 10 available starting 4/18, so set an alarm; ships rolled, with any concert date or dedication you like handwritten on it.  Signature too, of course.  Click for larger photo // $15 + $7.95 S&H for those darned expensive tubes.  International shipping possible, order as you normally would and expect a small extra invoice to cover cost only.

Custom Jewelry by Annie Ciszak Pazar

I love the savvy, chic modern jewelry and other goodies that @bella_boutique sells here in Anchorage, and Bella’s owner @anniepants agreed to do some custom pieces for you guys!  The pendant necklaces below are made of sterling silver and real pearls on 18″ silver chains, and the dog tags are stainless steel on 22″ ball chains.  Each piece is hand stamped with a little extra sass because that’s how Annie rolls.

I also custom-ordered two copper & silver banjos for the auction — Annie’s never made banjos before, and unless some sterling-happy bluegrass band orders some more, she probably never will again!  Scroll down to the auction items to see the truly incredible silver & copper 5-string banjos.

The necklaces & dog tags for sale come in four varieties — pictures, specs, & shipping details are below.  Only 10 of each are available (first-come, first-serve).  Auction items at the bottom (2 #frakabanjos).  You can find more of Annie’s amazing work at or

  • #frakabanjo became my favorite curse word sometime in January 2010 when I couldn’t get my banjo, trumpets, and cellos to line up properly in ProTools.  It’s seen plenty of Twitter airplay since.  Pendant diameter is about the size of a quarter & solid sterling silver, chain is 18″.  $45 plus $5.95 S&H.
  • “anchorage” is spelled here with a lower case ‘a’ because though my song by that name is about my preferred city, it’s even more about the larger notion of anchorage — finding a harbor, dwelling awhile in some peace, hope, and protection.  Also, coffee and beer.  Pendant diameter is about the size of a quarter, & pearl is dark blue/turquoise. $48 plus $5.95 S&H.

  • “mc” is simple and understated, and can stand for anything you like (suggestions welcome).  The pearl is actually chartreuse, photo here makes it appear to be orange.  This silver pendant is smaller, a little bigger than a dime. $32 plus $5.95 S&H.
  • For those less inclined to silver & pearls, these stainless steel dog tags may do the trick.  Simple, durable & banjo-y on a ball chain. $30 plus $5.95 S&H.

All shipping is domestic priority USPS — items normally ship only a few cents over the cost of materials & postage.  International shipping available for these items, overseas rates vary.  International friends place your order as usual, but expect to work out a small extra Paypal invoice to cover additional shipping costs, as per mutual agreement with mariancall*at*

Voicemail by Marian

I will skype your voicemail and leave you a message with whatever snippet of an original song you like!  I’ll also record what I sing you and send it to you as an MP3 so you can do with the clean audio whatever you like.

Rules and stuff: first-come first-serve. / Be sure to specify what time zone you’re in and what piece of a song you want; don’t say “surprise me,” you should be a grown-up and choose something. / No, you don’t get my phone number. / If I catch you in person, we’ll talk for no more than about 5 minutes and I’m sure it will be lovely and I am friendly and love to talk to you.  Please don’t try to keep me on the phone forever though.

T-shirts and Tote Bags

(How very NPR of me.) The T-shirt store is open all the time, so this is nothing new.  But now’s a good time to snag one!  Have a look over at the Marian Call Store.  Shirts and bags and such are environmentally-friendly printing and sweatshop-free production and they’re print-to-order.  They have a very cool vintage faded look but should stand more washings than traditional silkscreen.  Choose your own merch, cut and color — be aware that designs will be subtle on darker fabrics offered.  I’m aware that not enough sizes are available at this time, sorry, hoping to remedy that with an additional store in the future!

#frakabanjos by Annie Ciszak Pazar

These are two separate auction items, handmade and therefore not quite identical to one another.  Update: auction now closed.  I love the savvy, chic modern jewelry and other goodies that @bella_boutique sells here in Anchorage, and Bella’s owner @anniepants agreed to do some really special custom work for the occasion!

These are my #frakabanjos.  Annie’s never made banjos before, and unless some sterling-happy bluegrass band orders some more, she probably never will again!  They’re made of sealed copper and sterling silver, and each 5-string banjo is about 3″ long on an 18″ sterling silver chain.  They’re handmade and stamped with a little sass because that’s how Annie rolls.  You can find more of her amazing work at or

#frakabanjo became my favorite curse word sometime in January 2010 when I couldn’t get her banjo, trumpets, and cellos to line up properly in ProTools for the song “Dear Mister Darcy,” from which the album title comes.  It’s seen plenty of Twitter airplay since.

$5.95 S&H, ships insured, USPS priority — international shipping available, increased charges apply.

Handwritten Framed Lyrics: “Anchorage” & “Highway Five”

These are two separate auction items.  Update: auction now closed.  Marian has nice handwriting, and she likes to write out her lyrics for fans.  Two songs will be available this time: “Anchorage” and “Highway Five,” both from Something Fierce, one of each.  The songs will be abridged so as to fit nicely on one page, but will definitely include hooks/choruses, and at the winner’s request, specific very important lines from those songs.  Dedication & signature included of course.  (Pictured below are a previous year’s lyrics, the finished product.)

$24.95 S&H, ships framed, insured, USPS priority — international shipping available, increased charges apply.

Cover Songs of Your Choosing

These are auction items.  There are three of them, closing at different times.  Update: auction now closed.

Three winners will each get to choose a song for Marian to cover and release online, as part of a 5-song EP of all cover songs to be released soon after Something Fierce. Here are the rules:

– Each winner will suggest three songs, all of reasonable length (less than 6 minutes), ratedPG-13 or milder, and within Marian’s character
– Marian will choose the one song from each winner that she thinks will work the best for her as an adaptation
– Songs will be recorded in April-May 2011, so allow 6 weeks for delivery
– Winners will get to preview the track before release, and will be shipped a physical copy of the EP (homeburned, signed, smooched, &c.)
– The fourth song on the EP will be voted on by fans after the fundraiser, no purchase necessary.  The fifth will be Marian’s choice at the end (to bring some cohesion to the set).
– The full EP will be released online to the winners and the Donors’ Circle immediately, and to the larger world approximately whenever Marian feels like it and has time after Something Fierce comes out.
– Disclaimers:  Bidders should note that this is not a dare, so please don’t suggest “Quit Playin’ Games With My Heart” just to bother Marian.  That’s unhelpful.  And please don’t ask for a song by a super-obscure artist you want to promote.  The ideal songs would be at least moderately well-known so that other listeners can enjoy the experience of a cover as well.  The production will also be very simple, so don’t suggest something that won’t work with just guitar or keyboard.  And don’t try to control the production.  Let Marian be Marian and you’ll get a good cover.

The Trusty Rainstick

This is an auction item.  Half of the proceeds go to Flood Relief in Australia (see below), half to the completion of the album.  To bid, visit Marian’s eBay page.

Once upon a time in 2008, boys and girls, the Browncoats of San Diego welcomed an insomniac Alaskan singer-nobody-ever-heard-of to their bonfire on the beach and presented her with a rainstick.  That was Marian’s first proper tour concert outside Alaska, and instead of keeping her rainstick for a tchotchke, she started playing it in her shows and on her albums, and she took it on tour.  And she got it signed by some medium-famous people, namely Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, & Nathan Fillion.  She shook it in every state and nearly all of Canada; it’s been wrested away from TSA’s clutches more than once, and it’s played shows of all sizes for all sorts over its three-year term.

So it’s time to retire the rainstick, which is an instrument with a shelf life — the beads and thorns inside break down so it’s getting quieter.  The signatures of famous people have nearly worn off from actual use.  And (this is true) on the last concert of the last night of the 49>50 Tour, in Honolulu HI, Marian emphasized the end of “Avocado Song” by swinging it over her head, and *SMACK!* it cracked on a low ceiling beam.  In March 2011 the rainstick played its last concert, on the beach in Orange County near the origin of its Marian Call story.  Now it wants to live with a collector who will love it and let it chill out for awhile, quit making all that rain.

The rainstick comes shipped lovingly as is, well worn, with the same yellow and orange yarn lovingly wound by Dwight Bragdon, the original rainstick provider.  The Nathan Fillion & Adam Baldwin signatures are still visible, and traces of the Alan Tudyk signature can be seen if you know where to look.  But it’s not a pristine object by any means.

Auction closed, sorry.  Thank you for raising $762.50 for Flood Relief in Queensland, AU!  If you wish to donate yourself, visit this site.


You are all awesome.  Any purchases you make during the fundraiser that add up to $200 or more will add you to the Donors’ Circle, and a purchase in the right amount if you’re already a member will bump you up to the next level &c.  If you suspect you should be in the circle or else bumped up a level and I haven’t taken care of it, just shoot me an e-mail and let me know.

*Why flood relief in Australia? The planet had more than its share of disasters in the last couple of months, and enough funds can hardly ever be raised to help everyone in need of help at this time.  I am moved by all of the urgent causes right now, but I find that by and large this one has been nearly forgotten, and I’m following the lead of the SoCal Browncoats in doing a very small bit to help a few people.
*Why only half? I am bothered by not giving it all, but at the same time I can’t afford to.  On Art And Charity:  As an artist, I really couldn’t afford to make a sizable donation like this at all except by selling something that I have that’s of value.  So really, it’s a donation from the buyer straight to the cause through me, and the hope is the buyer is making a donation they might not have otherwise made if they didn’t want to purchase something from me.  This is an age-old nonprofit fundraising strategy.  Artists don’t have money to give, so we sell stuff and give that money.  I’ve become a little distressed at the consistent pattern, though, of artists giving a substantial percentage of their work away entirely for free to raise money for nonprofits.  Charity auction season can impoverish artists.  And that’s shortsighted on the part of both artists and charities.  The original materials or time (or whatever added value there may be) that go into a work of art have a cost, and after a few massive donations of all that stuff with no compensation, we can’t even afford to make more art to sell, let alone to give away.  I think (I hope) it’s a more reasonable standard for artists to sell or auction things for charity and recover a fraction of the cost or value they put into creating something valuable so they’ll have a means to A) stay alive and B) create more to give to charities or nonprofits in the future.  I’m not taking a firm or severe stance here or trying to sell this point to others, just trying to start setting a precedent that works for me to raise funds for charity and at the same time keep eating and creating.  I try to do a charity fundraising project per month at least, and the more I do it, the more I learn the importance of sustainability for artists fond of nonprofit work — and for the nonprofits who are constantly asking artists for completely free stuff, with the assumption that it won’t cost us much to give it away in exchange for exposure (and often very little of that).
*But you didn’t make the rainstick. Now you’re being persnickety.  I know.  But hopefully I added value to it, and by doing so made a charitable donation possible, as well as a happy fan, as well as some funding for my new record.  The auction will tell how valuable it is.  Now go troll someone else, stupid troll inside my brain.  I haz good reasons for what I do!

Special Shows: all about community

04/06/2011 at 9:22 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, Music, News & Explanations, Stories from Alaska | 2 Comments
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There are some special-enough shows coming up that they deserve more than 140 characters.  Because I’m sensing a theme.

First, the show details, then the important-ish things I’ve been thinking about for months:

4/14/11 Vagabond Blues in Palmer AK – Marian Call Poetry-Themed Solo Show

I only have one serious solo show in Southcentral AK this month, and it’s at one of my favorite venues in the state.  If you haven’t heard a show at Vagabond, it’s worth going and bringing friends.  Quiet, intimate, one of the best natural acoustic spaces for music anywhere in Alaska, hardly any of amplification needed.  Plus great coffee & healthy food.  I do hope you’ll come hear this show — I’ve been sort of creating my own venues lately, which is fun, but oh, what a relief to play in a music venue designed exactly for what I do! And this will be a special show for National Poetry Month — if you hadn’t picked up on it, poetry is deeply important to me and to what I do.  You may hear some unusual stories & poems!  Tickets available online at this link or at Vagabond Blues or Fireside Books. Bring the kids, it’s all ages and kids should enjoy concerts!  Facebook event to share here.

4/15/11 Acoustic North AK – Live at the Snow Goose Theater – Streaming Online at

Last year I helped coordinate a showcase of four female singer-songwriters in Anchorage.  The show sold out, tons of people watched online, and universally we heard the same thing: Do More Stuff Like This!!!! For a number of folks it was their most memorable concert of the year; I heard those exact words over and over.  It was like Mountain Stage or Prairie Home Companion, people said.  It was magic.

Why it was magic:  we were community.  We were experiencing something all at the same time, all together.

So we’re doing it again, but this time with more musicians (boys even!), several poets, and a more serious focus moving forward.  I love the touring artists we get through Anchorage.  But I want to see our very own local talent on the same great stages in the same quiet venues, not just consigned to noisy bars or background music.  We have incredible folks here in Anchorage (so many we couldn’t begin to fit them all on one bill) and I am excited to experience a few of them together in the right kind of place.  And you can see this event live in Anchorage, it will be amazing — tickets on sale now at, $10-15 — or you can watch it on Ustream, live or after the fact.  This will be a show to remember. Facebook event here for the live concert, Facebook event here for the webstream.  Invite someone!


Acoustic North AK Poster

Now for some ill-informed ramblings that I’ll likely regret when someone brings up politics in the comments (don’t).

The 49>50 Tour all over the continent taught me a great many things, like how suspicious I should be of Cincinnati chili (60%), how to eat a crab that still has its shell on (cringeing), and how often the GPS is infuriatingly correct (about 98% of the time. Infuriating).  But mostly it taught me that our culture is trying really really hard right now to figure out community.  That’s why social networking hit a nerve with this poor species and took off so quickly — and that’s why advertising is trying to sell you not shampoo, but a relationship with your shampoo — we’re reaching out for people, for a sense of connection, for sharing.  And yet in some ways isolating ourselves more.  We can select our company and our entertainment with incredible precision & customization, yet I don’t think that’s quite the route to happiness.  Two things have been rattling around in my brain with respect to this Acoustic North show:

1. I love my online world, Facebook, Twitter, &c.  I don’t see it as interfering with community — for me it actually creates community.  But then — I personally spend a LOT of time going out in real life, with real people, to real events that we share all at once.  I chat on Twitter with people and then try to get to a Tweetup or have coffee.  I make friends online and then drive several thousand miles to meet them in person, and try to create a real life experience we can have in common — including online Real Time Experiences.  (Webstreams and radio, I find, have a more unifying community feel than customized entertainment like Pandora.  Why?  You’re sharing the listening experience with other people.  It’s not just for you.  You selfish human you.)

My point is: the Internet is as community-creating or as community-sucking as you let it be.  If the Web is sucking your community away from you, if you’re getting Facebook-depressed and refreshing to no effect, then go have an experience together with a lot of other people in real time.  If you’re shy, find one that doesn’t make you nervous, possibly even a webstream or online radio that has a strong community.  It really really helps.  And it scratches far more deeply the itch that social media only begins to reach.  Don’t your most satisfying social media experiences happen when, for a brief moment, everyone’s talking or joking about the same thing? (#HollywoodPostItNotes tonight.)

2. I got to see a lot of towns & cities this year.  In fact I made a list, and it was short, of decently-sized metro areas in North America that I have not seen after my crazy tour.  And towns have different characters.  Citizens love to talk about the character of their city & compare it to others, by the way — just ask them what their town’s like and step back.

There are cities and states that have an incredibly strong sense of community and local identity, and there are cities that don’t.  This is not a value judgment, it’s a fact, easily observable (if difficult to quantify).  Just visit Austin or New Orleans or Joshua Tree for awhile, you’ll feel how much the community is a living, breathing character, and how important it is to the people who live there to participate in and protect and nurture its character.  Or just observe the way people behave & think differently about their town during the World Series or Superbowl — oddly I found a very strong strain of localized devotion & sense of community in smaller collegiate-sports-fanatic towns in the Midwest and South, far removed from the Austin or New Orleans sort of music/nightlife culture.  Where does this feeling come from?  Why did it bother me so much when it was absent?  Because it was often absent.

I think part of this sense of community comes from experiencing stuff all together in real time.  You know very well the difference between watching a sporting event in the arena, watching it live at home, and watching it recorded later — those three very different degrees of involvement — the depth of connection is about being a part of something at the same time & in the same space as other people. Weather and seasonal changes, which touch absolutely everyone, have the same effect — the unusual environment here in Alaska bonds people together like very few other places I’ve been.  We experience so much out-of-the-ordinary stuff all together that even when we disagree vehemently with the Alaskan at the next barstool, we still have an incredible amount in common.

In my very favorite places on the continent, this sense of community translates into (or is it created by?) people going out all the time instead of staying in.  Maybe it’s to watch the sunset or the ocean, maybe to run a marathon or play in a pickup basketball game, maybe to hear free or paid concerts a couple nights per week, maybe a friend’s backyard barbecue, maybe it’s going out to the Farmers’ Market — there are cities and small towns where people go out All The Time.  And there are places where everyone stays in and the streets are barren.  I know which places I feel an immediate connection with as a visitor.  I know which I’d pick to live in.

And it’s not about nightlife, or spending money, or subsidizing certain industries, or a certain income or race or lifestyle.  Unless that lifestyle is Get Outside Of Your House And Your Head If You Want To Be Fully Human.  (Poor communities are sometimes much better about this than wealthy ones — sometimes not.)  It’s about crossing the mental hurdle that may keep you from connecting with strangers and getting out of your home.  It’s about building and participating in the structures that make it possible for a whole community to get out more — more family-friendly venues, more childcare, more free activities that are actually good, more accessible cabs & transit, &c.  Going out doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  And if it does cost a bit — wouldn’t the economy of any town be invigorated by this sort of activity?  Isn’t that what every chamber of commerce wants, a vital social life on a broad scale?  USE them streets and sidewalks and parks.  VISIT your small businesses.  Drop a few dollars on a hot cocoa, a few cents on a good busker, and walk down a bike trail, and you’ve participated in the life of your town.  And probably made yourself feel more like a person.

For some of you, this is duh.  But I know a heckuva lot of folks who need to have this revelation for real.

I feel strong community in Anchorage.  Always have.  It could and should get better — I’d really like to see the local population turning out a little more for the evening entertainment.  We have so much going on that’s underattended (though admittedly lots of it is underpromoted too).  I’d love to see more all-ages venues here, and more quiet, grown-up friendly venues.  I want to see the average Joe coming out more for music and art here — I know it’s possible from visiting other cities where that is simply embedded in the local culture.

But here’s what I already love about living here: when the sunset is amazing and I’m not too pressed for time, I detour to go watch it.  And when I get to my favorite spot by the water, I find dozens or sometimes hundreds of other people already there.  When the lunar eclipse occurred, the whole town turned out to look for it in freezing temperatures, and everyone was talking about it the next day.  When the aurora went active at 1am on a weeknight and my roommate and I go went a quest to find it, the parking lot at Point Woronzof was already totally full of people of all ages and races.  It was a holiday atmosphere.  I was rubbing elbows with people different from me, people I likely disagree with, people I rely upon, my fellow Anchorage dwellers.  That felt like community.  That made me love my city.  That, world — we need more of that.

Come out to a show!  Get out of your house and go see what’s happening where you live!

(You know you have the internet on your phone anyway.  It’s not like you’ll miss anything important happening here.)

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.

Mortality’s a Sticky Wicket

10/16/2009 at 7:07 am | Posted in News & Explanations | Comments Off on Mortality’s a Sticky Wicket
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Resolutions Marian makes when reminded of her own finite lifespan:

  1. Wear skirts more often
  2. Send thank you notes
  3. Cook stuff from scratch and eat it with red wine
  4. Spend all my time with friends who are easy to be with
  5. Call my Mom
  6. Write some less silly, peppy, juvenile songs, for goodness’ sake
  7. Forget about Inbox Zero
  8. Do something about health care reform
  9. If it’s pretty outdoors, go outdoors, immediately
  10. Get a cat someday (borrow if necessary)
  11. Forget about number 6
  12. Do breast exams more regularly

I spent the month of September planning my upcoming recording project, working backstage at The Lion King, and wondering whether the lump in my breast would kill me, ruin me financially, or just disappear.

The odds of finding something deadly in my left breast are very small at my age.  But don’t we all have that friend — relative — high school classmate — who meets an unfair and early end through cancer?  It’s a code word for “unjust” when applied to the young.  So I couldn’t help worrying just a little.  That’s what you do when you think you’re sick: worry.

Then, of course, the realization always follows that I WILL die, sooner or later.  And that doesn’t make me special; all of you will too.  I could survive a dozen deadly cancers, be a walking medical miracle, and then unexpectedly have a run-in with a rabid illegally imported chinchilla that would end me. And what a way to go.  It’s embarrassing how poorly we (Americans in particular) cope with the inevitability of death when the fact iswe walk with it daily.

In any case, mortality has been on my mind for the last six weeks or so.  I fretted, I fussed, and between doctor and hospital visits I found I wanted to do very different things than I imagined I’d want to do.  Go hiking — now.  Sit for an hour with a borrowed cat — now.  Step outside and look at the mountains — now.

Why bring this up with you?  Well, it’s breast cancer awareness month, for one.  Check ’em, ladies.  Set an alarm on your fancy phone.  And it’s never a bad time to ponder the stuff you need to do to have a full life — now.  Please take a second to remember.

Suppose you and I never realize our full potential as human beings; suppose we either don’t work hard enough, or we’re not good enough, or life thwarts us, or whatever.  And we don’t reach our goals, and we’re unsatisfied with the Cliff’s Notes version of our life.  Then what are we left with?  How we lived along the way. How we used our eyes to see and hands to do.  That’s all we get.  You know this.  I don’t have to preach at you.  But I’m happy to remind you.

I got a clean bill of health last week — the lump was nothing, though for quite a while they thought it was — and I’m feeling much better now.*

But I want to remember what I learned while I was wondering about the length of my barely-significant life.  I want to remember how deeply I loved looking at Alaska, and how much I appreciated the company of good friends.  How staying positive and thankful, inasmuch as I could, held me together.  How risks suddenly seemed smaller, less scary, and more appealing.  Hold that knowledge tight.

I’m not at all special for going through this; it’s a little little nothing, and so many people go through worse every day.  But it’s real.  Sharing stories is what we do, so this is mine at the moment.  Please be mindful of your life and death.  Be mindful.  That’s all.

I look forward to seeing some of you in New York City, Massachusetts, and Seattle next month —


*I also got another kind of bill that made me less than thrilled.  But had I needed some sort of operation, I would be filing for bankruptcy and ending my career.  For the record, and this is my first openly public political statement ever: though I’m in many ways a conservative, I support the public option, partially because I have little to no hope of health care in the foreseeable future, and neither do most of my friends — I know far too many artists and musicians desperately fundraising tens of thousands or more to cover a single illness that’s long past.  But I won’t discuss politics at length here, or in the comments.  If it helps you to put a face on the solvent yet uninsured, anyway, mine will do.

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