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!**

 

IT’S HERE IT’S HERE IT’S HERE!  AFTER TWO AND A HALF YEARS SOMETHING FIERCE IS HERE!

I’ve been yelling about this a lot so I’ll try to calm down, quit spinning, and give you all the details.  And I’ll briefly stop saying thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.  (Though I can never ever be grateful enough for your patience and support.  I’m gonna make like an NPR station during pledge week pretty soon and compulsively send you all tote bags out of gratitude.)

The record will drop on OCTOBER FIRST TWO THOUSAND ELEVEN!   According to Google, October first is also Julie Andrews’ birthday, the anniversary of the creation of Mensa, and the Texarkana Egg Fest.  An auspicious day.  The record will be available to download on that day, from anywhere in the world, through Bandcamp.com.  Physical CD’s will start shipping that week, so you should receive them shortly after that.  If you pre-order the album, digital or physical, you’ll get an e-mail the moment it’s released with the entire record as a download all ready to go!

Wanna know how it sounds?  The tracks “Anchorage” and “Good Morning Moon” have already been released as singles, and I’ve posted some samples of a few more on Soundcloud for your listening enjoyment.  And I’ve written a few vulnerable artsy thoughts about the record, too.  I hope you like it so much!

Here is how you can pre-order Something Fierce.  And you should, so that I can afford to print it for you.

Digital pre-orders!  For you modern types.

If you pre-order your fabulous digital double-album through Bandcamp, you’ll get a little bit of music now — if you like — and on the first of October you’ll automatically receive your tracks and shiny digital album art to download!  So go ahead and pick it up now.  Price is about $15.00 or whatever you feel beyond that.  If you have any issues at all, e-mail me or Katie at mcminion42*at*gmail.com.  Thank you!

CD pre-orders!  For you who need something to play frisbee hold.

I’ll be signing 500 copies of the physical CD for you early birds!  So if you order now, your album/s will come autographed (no dedications, sorry.  Bring it to me at a show and I’ll sign it to you).  If you buy the CD, you’ll also get the album as a download that will be delivered on October 1st — so however long the postal service takes to your corner of the world, you can still join the CD release party that day!

The double disc costs $25 autographed, a little less ($20) if you want to wait until the release and get a not-autographed copy.    I’m absorbing a little of the cost of international S&H because I really want to keep overseas shipping affordable for my friends across borders!

I’m a CD person still — I buy physical discs and play full albums in my car and in my house.  But I know there’s an environmental cost, and I’d like to minimize that where I can.  So this is a carbon-neutral run of CD’s, or as close as we can get to it — they’re printed with soy ink on post-consumer recycled materials; the trays are made of recycled water bottles, and carbon credits are purchased to offset manufacturing and shipping.

**Donors’ Circle Members:  remember that you’re entitled to two free copies of the record if you like!  There are other goodies for you as well.  Be sure to fill out the form I sent you in order to receive your benefits.  But if you want to order more copies, these links above are for you.  Any questions, just e-mail me or Katie at mcminion42*at*gmail.com!

And thank you thank you thank you thank you for your order.  I fantasize about this all going very smoothly.  (But it never seems to go completely perfect.  So if you have any issues along the way, just let me know, mcminion42*at*gmail.com, and we’ll do our very best to get it sorted.)

Bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce.

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

If you want to know more about the record itself, here are some details. Something Fierce is a double album with two parts — vol. I: Good Luck With That and vol. II: from Alaska.

I announced the album and formed the Donors’ Circle in March 2009, and I began writing songs and booking musicians for the project around that time.  Recording began in November 2009 and has continued up to last week — at intervals between touring — we did studio work in Seattle, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Austin, and Anchorage.  About thirty people made noises for the record, and over a hundred fans helped to fund it.  I did all the editing myself before, during, and after the 49>50 Tour, and this spring I even added some songs written on that journey.

Here’s a track list so you can see if your favorite song from the live shows is on Something Fierce (track order not necessarily finalized):

Something Fierce, vol. I:  Good Luck With That

  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.  http://mariancall.bandcamp.com/album/something-fierce is the link to share around the web.

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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.)

M

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 Ustream.com

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 http://mariancall.com, $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.)

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