Return of the Something Fierce, or, November 13th 2012

09/26/2012 at 6:57 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, Music, News & Explanations | 11 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

This blog is for those of you who are already fans of mine, as we’ll go behind the scenes a bit:

Gather ’round, O Best Beloved, because I have something very important to tell you.  This is kind big news in the Marian Callisphere, and it involves both a game and a party.

So!  Last October I self-published a double album called Something Fierce. I worked on it for years, and I’m proud of it and it’s awesome.  And because it’s sort of my magnum opus to date, I decided to push it out of the nest.

We’re gonna try for some bigger press now thru November.  You guys have said for years: “Get on All Songs Considered Marian!  Get on World Cafe!  Get on Mountain Stage!  Get in Paste and Spin!”  This is how we try, and you are all the gatekeeper and the keymaster.

Something Fierce has a new global RELEASE DATE.*

November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

And you’re invited.  We’ve already put out two singles.  Here’s where you come in, O Most Beloved.

You guys ask me all the time how we can get to NPR-Paste-etc.  We now have a way.  And it really ALOTALOT depends on you.  I’ve told the press that you, the fans, are super engaged, and now I need you to prove me truthy and not lieful.**  When a music publication, big or small, posts about an artist, how do we tell them we want more of this artist in the press?

FEEDBACK.

I mean comments, mostly, and referring to articles in other articles.  Say you’re a little music blog, and you post a song by an unknown artist every day, and mostly you get a few hundred hits, but suddenly hordes of people visit & comment on & share an artist’s page for a day.  How would you think about that post and that artist?  You’d think you struck gold.  And what would other music bloggers think?  That they’d better not miss the bandwagon and be late.  And what will big media outlets think when that artist crosses their desk and they’re deciding who to review?

Let’s make them think it.  Let’s DO THIS!

I am going Adventure Questing in Europe next month, but wherever you are in the world, I invite you to go Adventure Questing with me.  No money required; these are riddles and puzzles to solve, small tasks to complete, a little Golden Fleece journey for you that will hopefully create a little buzz.

November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

  • is when my album drops again. This just became a list, poof.
  • Starting November 1st, I will be issuing you one task per day for 13 days on Twitter and at MarianCallAdventureQuest.com.***
  • Your task might be to post a comment on an article in haiku, or to draw a doodle of a lyric and post it hashtagged on Twitter, or to write a comment where each word starts with the letters of the last word in the before you (remember our limerick contest guys? Peter Sagal announced the results).  They will be small internet tasks, little 2-minute treasure chests and dungeon crawls, and will involve lots of Us Guys rewarding media outlets that feature the record.****
  • If you complete every Adventure Quest task by November 13th and send me screencaps by email, you will be entered to win some sincerely excellent and very real prizes, digital and physical, with shipping anywhere in the world.
  • Yes, you can do them all on the last day if you want, Procrastinatey McJones.  It doesn’t matter if you’re right on the nose with your dates.  Just finish before midnight on the 13th Hawaii time to be part of the crew.

November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

Is the date sticking for you yet?  I will spend my morning in Amsterdam and my afternoon/evening in Dublin, and guys, we are going to HAVE A PARRTY!  By which I mean GOOGLE HANGOUT AND TWITTER PARTY!  I’d like to invite you to have brunch with me in Amsterdam, then pub fare and Guinness or Killian’s or Harper with me in Dublin, no matter what your time zone.  When I’m not flying, I will be online several times through the day talking with you guys, answering any and every question, doing goofy things on camera, potentially drinking a little too much, and celebrating this awesome record that ate several years of my life.  I will try to get some special guests to join our Hangout and say hi, I will draw prize winners, and I will definitely sing for you in public places which will probably be embarrassing.

You guys, American Songwriter has already agreed to feature the album on their site all day on NOVEMBER 13TH, and so has AOL/Spinner.  OMG OMG OMG.  We released two singles to the media to promote, and for some reason “Dear Mister Darcy” is taking off at over 3000 downloads; we can’t even figure out why.  We will get more media on the hook if we can only deliver the audience.  With building momentum World Cafe and Paste and NPR might be someday be within reach. THIS IS BIG.

But only you can make it happen.  So join me Adventure Questing if you wish!  For all those times you guys have told me to get on NPR, now you have the power to Make It So!

November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

Do you want to do something now?  Here are further action items if you want them.  But only if you want them.  I don’t expect this sort of involvement, I’m grateful for you guys beyond belief;  but I do want to focus those of you who have asked to help.

  • Go download a track here and leave a comment: http://madmackerel.org/2012/09/11/marian-call-readies-something-fierce-for-release/. They’re free on purpose.  If you already have the music, send the track to a friend — surprise them.  Send the link to this article to a local radio station or DJ.
  • Here are some articles that need some love. Comment or share real quick, and I dare you to do it in Subtle Haiku (no line breaks, but a clear haiku structure that other readers will recognize): post 1 post 2 post 3 post 4. Tweet me links or send me screencaps if you want to show off your handiwork!
  • If you have a blog, write a teeny review of your favorite song or concert experience.  Include a link to the blog above, or some other blog, since that really helps.  If you don’t know what to say, just post lyrics and then tell a nice story that seems tangentially related, like this.
  • If you posted a blog about me ages ago, circulate the link one more time now, or post a follow-up, gloating that you were in on the ground floor of something awesome.  Tell everyone you were right.
  • Comment on iTunes or Amazon or listen on Spotify, which shows up on Facebook. (Note that my preferred listening/purchase link to actually benefit me is Bandcamp.)
  • If you are allowed to play music where you work, spin the album a couple times before November 13th. Tell people you are cool enough to have gotten this record before the global release because you’re that hip to new music.  You don’t need it with you, you can just listen online. (Don’t annoy anyone please.)
  • Pester your local DJ — most can play the music from the web now, so bother them with the link and say the album’s coming out soon.  And hey, pester your local weekly paper’s music reviewer, and your local NPR affiliate too, along with the national tastemaker stations (KUT, KEXP, KCRW, WGBH, WBUR, WHYY, WNYC and more).  If you need a press release for singles 1 and 2 or a bio, we have them.
  • I could use a little web help November 1st-14th, because obviously I will be running around Europe when I need to be posting stuff and answering questions.  If you’re interested, e-mail admin@mariancall.com with the subject line “Adventure Quest-keteer.”

Any volunteer work that you feel like doing, I will equip you for.  Any questions you have, I will answer.  A few answers from the asterisks above are below.

I owe all of this to you guys, and that’s why I work so hard and run so fast.  I want to do my best for you, and I want to do the most for you.  I am excited to see all of you I can see in the Northeast of the US, the Southeast of Canada, and Europe.  And I’m super super super excited to raise a Guinness to all of you on — what date?

NOVEMBER 13TH 2012!!!

#somethingfierce

Image

*********

*Why release your album again? This is very normal for indie albums actually, in part because media outlets have almost no interest in reviewing an artist unless a Big Album Release is coming up.  So I have an awesome publicist, and they’re trying to get some media attention, so the Big Album Release is coming up!

**We are pitching me to media outlets as a social media musician with an engaged fanbase. So woe is me if my fanbase stays silent when Paste finally gives me an article. We have to prove that my press releases are true!  Mostly I don’t post articles about me (it’s rude) but for the next little while I’ll need to, and I’ll be hoping and wishing you guys will show them you’re listening.

***That site is not ready yet. Sorry. I was getting this site ready. November 13th.

****I promised you once, after my first Shortys encounter, and I’d like to reaffirm my promise:  I will never ever ask you to “vote for me” in any sort of internet competition. I have some dignity at least.

Advertisements

Kicking the Start, or, stuff I keep wanting to say

08/12/2012 at 11:13 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, News & Explanations | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s the middle of the night in Juneau. My hair is still all curly from being in a wedding today.  I have a lot of thank yous to say, and a lot of explaining to do.

THANK YOU to all of you folks who contributed to my crazy Kickstarter.  You are mighty when you pull together!  Just look what you’ve done, it’s incredible!  And by that I mean barely credible!  I mean, I knew you would fund my asking amount, but I did NOT anticipate becoming a poster girl for Kickstarteriness.  More on that in a second.  I’m busy trying to keep up with your messages to me and get the survey stragglers in the database and get necklaces mailed out.  But first —

THANK YOU to the people who forged the Kickstarter and who are even now working on making and fulfilling the rewards.  Thank you Chris Cushman who made the armor — Valette who shot the photosAdam Levermore who designed the graphicsPatrick who made the website and shot the videoKatie who helped build the back-of-house infrastructure (there’s TONS of it) — Annie who will soon have handmade over 150 necklaces — Dammit Liz who is even now helping to book shows in Europe.

If you missed the excitement — I’m sorry you did, because it was terribly exciting.  In short, I decided to fund a Europe tour, because my European fans have been patiently waiting for a tour which I could not afford.  I conjured rewards and a sort of game to try to fairly determine where in Europe I would book shows.  Then I asked for $11,111 with some stretch goals reaching up to about $18k, at which point my tour would be funded to several countries.

We raised the first $11,111 within about 3 hours of my first announcement.  Holy hand grenades, Batman!

I was shocked.  I knew we would raise the funds, but I don’t think anyone who has been tracking me closely would have anticipated the speed — or the fact that, for the first couple days, the average pledge was around $79 (the Kickstarter overall average is $25, and while I love my fans, I know they aren’t all rich, so I was blown away by the level of support per person.)

I set some stretch goals, because we blew past the $20k mark within the first two days, if I remember correctly.  I caught a lucky snapshot on my phone of this moment:

Booyah.

Things slowed down awhile in the middle of the fundraiser, but toward the end Patrick told me I should offer cover songs for higher levels.  I decided to choose songs that were classics to me, songs from my musico-cultural desert island list, like the Muppets and TMBG and Tom Lehrer and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (I wanted to be Julie Andrews when I was little).  The internet responded that yes, they wanted those cover songs, and they funded us all the way from $40k to $50k, and then up to $60k, where I threw up my hands and decided to just lie prone on the floor in surprise for awhile.

Now I am  happier and wiser and very very very very very busy girl.  I have used up my all caps quota for the year several times over.  Now I’m just piled high in more work than anyone can manage; if you’re still waiting on something, sorry, working on it.  Fulfilling rewards is no small task, and I have laid out for myself a nearly impossible amount of recording by the end of the year.  But in my family we have a saying: “That’s impossible. Let’s do it.”

Guys. Guys. We did it.  Thank you!

In the middle of the work, though, I thought I should take a minute to talk about the whole experience, because I am getting asked lots and lots and lots of things about Kickstarter, and I’ve gotten letters of all kinds, from very nice and admiring to sort of slimy and advertisey to very mean (only one of those though).  And I get asked tons of questions about the music business in general that I wish I could answer better.  So without any particular order or editing, because it’s 1am, here are some of my thoughts.

  • I am being asked quite a lot about what I did to make the Kickstarter go boom like that.  I have a lot of specific techniques and ideas (most covered below), but seriously, the biggest thing is do your art.  Do it a lot.  Make the art good.  Make it good enough to turn heads.  Then make it better.  Nothing else comes before that.  Because if you’re asking other people to put up money for it, it needs to be really good, and there’s a lot of really good art out there right now (yay!).  I’m not trying to say my art is so amazing, I’m just saying that the REAL first step of my fundraiser was studying and performing music intensively for 20 years.  And that was hard, and it mostly didn’t earn me anything, and it still doesn’t earn me much more than a secretarial job.  But that’s where it starts, not with a smart fundraising strategy or clever video.
  • The second biggest thing is to know your audience.  Duh, you’re saying, and I’m like, that’s so nineties of you to say Duh.  But here’s what I mean: know in advance how much you can fundraise, and how fast, and who is likely to fund it.  I knew the amount I proposed was a doable amount, because I fundraise sort of quietly in the background all the time, little poster sales and things, and I have an auction once a year.  After fundraising slowly for my album Something Fierce, I had a very clear idea what a reasonable minimum would be.  I can’t tell you how painful it is to see Kickstarters for bands asking for $50,000 for their first ever album — with stretch goals already listed for $100,000, which is just embarrassing when their funding is stalling out at $10k.  Where will the money come from and how much will it really be?  If you don’t know this in advance, wait.  Do some other experiments first.  Test the water.  You might have a lot of fans or followers, but that doesn’t translate to money.  How and what people purchase is something you really only find out by selling them your things.  No model works but your own, don’t use other people’s numbers.  We all sell differently and we all sell something unique in this market.
  • When I say know your audience, I mean something else too, something more important: love your audience. Respect your audience.  I spend time with my fans more days than I don’t.  I’m definitely not perfect with them (there is just never enough TIME, guys) but I like them.  I like you.  And I like spending time with you, and I just wish there was more time to spend.  I kind of want the same things my fans want;  I get excited by what excites them, so putting together a silly website gamey thing they might enjoy was fun for me.  I can’t tell you how many hours I puzzled over the Rulebook and the Coins and the FAQ’s and the ridiculous minutiae, because I knew some nerd out there would care as much as I do.  When I was coming up with the rewards, I just asked my Twitter stream: what do you want from me out of a Kickstarter?  What are other people doing, what have you liked, what bores you, what’s meaningless? And I got exactly the answers I needed, within minutes.  (Here’s what’s meaningless, according to the survey: movie credits. I kinda have to agree.  The glamour went out of that ages ago since every person I know has been part of a movie recently.  I don’t need a movie credit, guys.  I need a cookie.)
  • Now that I’ve typed it a bunch, I kinda dislike the word “fans.” It seems weird to me. Beyoncé has fans.  I have ………um………my people.  The people who live in my phone and sometimes materialize at concerts, and then I sleep on their floor and meet their pet tarantula or hedgehog or what have you.  I really really like and respect them, and I am convinced their time and money is precious, and it’s awesome when they spend some on me.  They have so many other options.  If you don’t like and respect your fans, if they’re not the folks you want to be hanging out with, well, bummer.  (I get sad when I see artists who sort of secretly scorn the people who support them, because that means they secretly scorn people who like what they do.  I hope they try making different stuff or marketing it different ways.)
  • Two things I’ve had to tell a lot of different people, in a friendly fashion, trying not to hurt their feelings:  1) If your music doesn’t turn the heads of strangers on the street, don’t have a fundraiser yet.  2) If you can’t immediately list 10 specific subgroups that describe your demographic, if you don’t know who your fans are — then you shouldn’t have a big fundraiser yet.  You should make/meet more fans.  Or have a tiny discreet fundraiser appropriate to your audience base right now, and use the thing you make as a stepping stone.
  • Make a spreadsheet. Patrick forced me to make a spreadsheet, and I spent as much time fussing with and fretting over it as I did on the rest of the Kickstarter.  Why? Because when you look at your chunk of money, and you deduct 10% for Kickstarter/Amazon and then 15% for taxes, and then you really add up the cost of fulfillment, you might be earning only $2-3 at your reward level that seems to profitable.  The thing most people forget in their spreadsheet is worth looking at if you’re gonna kick some start, it’s on the second NUMBER SMASH page of my public budget.  I calculated what each reward level would cost me, and then I wondered how many people would go for higher-return vs. lower-return rewards. What would people buy the most of?  If everyone went for necklaces & USB drives, could I still actually afford to do my trip?  I worked through a couple different scenarios to get a good estimate of what rewards would cost me — and how much I would need to ask for to wind up with $7,000 to make it to Europe & back (the answer is about $11,000, so $4000 would go into fees & fulfillment).  The extra math saved me much grief. I frequently see bands offering physical CD’s or vinyl at reward amounts that ensure they will be losing money.  Please do the extra math and give folks the physical CD for $25 instead of $15 if you’re raising funds for anything besides just duplication.
  • Be prepared for both failure and success.  I had a solid plan if funding wasn’t going well.  I was prepared to pound pavement if the pledges were not coming in, and I knew exactly what pavement to pound and how to pound it.  Turns out I didn’t have to.  But success brought its own problems — I had to completely redesign my website and Kickstarter page on the first day when we funded so quickly.  I had to come up with more rewards at certain levels.  Local jewelry suppliers ran out of the silver we needed to finish the necklaces.  Fulfillment got to be a huge job, much bigger than we thought, not to mention the pure administrative effort involved (thank you Katie!).  So plan ahead.  I thought I was overthinking absurdly, with all my FAQ’s and blathering, but it turns out it was very good I thought through all the questions carefully just in case of success.
  • For heaven’s sakes, don’t list tons of stretch goals until it appears you will certainly fund ahead of schedule. Chickens, counting, hatching.
  • I have a rude question. Does anyone want you to make the thing you want to make? Are people clamoring for it? Because — this is an important distinction — there is art you make because other people want you to make it, and there is art you make because you must make it. The latter is more pure, in some ways, personal and vulnerable and sometimes revolutionary (and occasionally both sorts align). But you only want to crowdfund something people want and need and get super excited about.  Before you start *any project,* ask a ton of people whether they want it, or what they want.  Don’t ask your friends, ask strangers and fans.  Would they pay for it? Do they really want it to exist?  If they’re not responding, that means it doesn’t compel them.  I’m not saying don’t make it. I’m saying fund that thing in another way. Get a grant. Invest in it yourself. Produce a more popular in-demand thing to fund the Art You Must Make That Nobody Demands. Don’t let the crowd decide the fate of that kind of art — it’s too personal and it doesn’t need thousands of voices in on the process anyway, people who feel like stakeholders.
  • Don’t do a Kickstarter thing just to raise some extra money. People can tell and it’s weird.  Do it when you have a project you really really care about.  Kickstarters, like Hansel, are so hot right now.  And for good reason — what a great model!  You won’t believe me, but I wrote those two sentences without initially seeing any connection between them.  But the thing is, everyone’s got a Kickstarter or Indiegogo cause lately.  They’re like belly buttons.  I get requests to retweet them every day (sorry, I mostly can’t, the volume of requests is absurd).  So let’s pretend you are only allowed to do one Kickstarter for the next two years, just one. What will it be about?  Why is it bigger and more special than your everyday business?  (Because your normal business should be able to fund itself — you shouldn’t need a Kickstarter to just do your job.)  A Kickstarter is fast and big and dramatic and public, moreso than the mellower kinds of fundraising that go on all year.  So don’t do one just to do one.  Do one when you have a real project or a real vision that moves you.  If it moves you, if it’s exceptional and exciting for you, it will be for other people too.
  • Since you asked or assumed: I am not rich now.  I don’t know if you saw Amanda Palmer’s blog entry re. “where did all that money go,” but my budget looks very similar; the business itself eats the money.  I put a big chunk of money towards debt, I replaced some failing equipment, and the rest is all getting folded back into touring and business expenses and fulfilling the promises I made.  After sweating over the budget quite a lot, I realized there was no tropical vacation in it for me, and not even really a shopping trip.  I might get crazy and spring for a doctor and dentist visit, but that’s about it.  Upgrading my infrastructure and doing a ton of recording and touring and being a little less in debt will be my reward. (And for someone who love love loves her business, that’s a huge reward.)

I guess what I’m really wanting to say to you is this.  The groundwork for a successful fundraiser is not having the right strategy or the right gimmick or the perfect combination of currently popular things (Ooh! Zombies and steampunk and rhythm gymnastics! A hit!).  It’s about knowing yourself and knowing the people you’re connecting with.  To thine own self be true.  Know what you want, know what your supporters want, and make them align.

I hope I didn’t say anything wrong but I’m too fall-asleepy to discuss anymore. So I’ma add links, publish, sleep, and spend tomorrow working on getting all you survey stragglers into the Kickstarter fulfillment spreadsheet I made, and fulfilling your rewards, and booking Europe.  Then I’m gonna disappear into the Alaskan wild for a couple nights to do something that’s not Kickstarter.

Next up: I play Juneau on 8/17-18, I tour the Midwest thru the end of August and then go to Dragon*Con, then I play at SPACE CAMP on Labor Day, then Auburn, then I’m desperately seeking a concert in Nashville, then playing DC and the Northeast U.S./CAN including 3 shows with Molly Lewis & the Doubleclicks, then I go to Europe, then Anchorage, then home for the winter to sleep for months.

Love you all. G’night!

A Little Help, Please: The Something Fierce Pseudo-Scholarship Fund

12/09/2011 at 9:15 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, Music, News & Explanations | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

So I made this new double album and it rocks.  I am totally proud of it. You can be listening to it for free while you read the rest of this blog by the way, just click here and hit play.

(Obligatory artist marketing message: you should buy some copies of my album for the holidays, by the way, or for future all-purpose gifts, or for yourself!  At Bandcamp.com you get an instant DRM-free download even if you order the physical CD, at Amazon.com you can get super saver shipping.  Plus it’s on iTunes and CDBaby and other places.  Help an indie artist out and DO IT!)

And now that my album’s released I’m confronting this problem that I think a lot of artists face.  Other artists might not know they face it, but since I talk with my fans all day on social media I’m acutely aware of it.  Here’s how it goes:

ACT I SCENE I

Int. Marian’s computer, glowy and full of JPG’s of gingerbread AT-AT walkers.  A fan is chatting with Marian on Twitter.

Longtime Devoted Fan: OMG MARIAN I LOVE YOUR NEW ALBUM! It’s everything you promised!

Marian: Here, buy a copy!  I made it for you since you’ve been so supportive and friendly and awesome!

L.D.F.: Um…..well….I am gonna do that FIRST THING when I get a job again.  Or pay off my ridiculous health care costs.  Or get my kids shoes that don’t hurt their feet.  Or I’ll beg for it for a gift.  Because…. [L.D.F. switches to private message or e-mail] …..I kind of really can’t afford it right now.  Or anytime soon.  At this time my money is for food, not music.

Marian: But……but I made it for you.  Take it for free!  You’ve always been there for me!

Chorus of the Ghosts of Indie Musicians: But isn’t that devaluing your art? Not to mention contributing to this awful Race To The Bottom that will undermine our economy and bankrupt hardworking artists?  Where will this end?  With all of us giving up our dreams and becoming insurance adjusters? Shaaaaame ooooon yoooooou.

Credit Card Company + Hospital, in unison: Hey, Marian?  About these monthly bills —

L.D.F.: They’re right!  Your music is worth money and I support you!  So I refuse to download it like a piratey pirate!  Also I’m gonna go cry into my ramen now.

Marian: Me too.  Into my ramen though, not yours.

EXEUNT L.D.F., Chorus, Bill Collectors. Marian is left alone; she crosses DSC. Lighting cue: follow spot.

Marian: [heavy sigh] If only I could give away my music to folks who are out of work or strapped for cash – without contributing to the problematic modern mindset that art for free is OK!

ENTER Donors’ Circle, fast & awkward, Kramer-style, wearing superhero costume. D.C. Leaps into follow spot with a flourish.

Donors’ Circle: I’m here to help with that!

END SCENE

It’s a fact that a lot of people I love are struggling financially right now.  And asking them to buy my music feels kinda crass.  But withholding music from people I love also feels yucky.  I have been there, and I needed music then more than ever to get through it.  Some of the most important albums of my life that helped me survive is stuff I ripped from friends when I had nothing BUT music.

SO! On the recommendation of a brilliant member of the Donors’ Circle, I thought I would try something a little different.  Below you’ll find an application for a sort of scholarship program — I’m calling it the Pseudo-Scholarship Fund, since I’m not sure what the legal ramifications of actually calling it a scholarship might be.  This program means you can get a legit digital copy of the album for free if you can’t afford it — but an anonymous donor will be paying for it.  SO!  Free to you, but still paid for, and therefore not without value.

Does this make sense?

I hope it works, at least for a few of you.  We’ll run it through December 31st, 2011, and if there’s more interest, possibly longer.  We’ll need two groups of people: folks who want to get/give the album but can’t afford it, and folks who want to fund the project.  [Note, April 2013 : it’s still running!  Just be sure to email us if you fill out a form!]

If you apply, you’ll get the music & liner notes at no cost to you, but I will ask you for something — I’ll ask you to join the mailing list, tell someone about the album, leave a review, or come to a concert.  And I’ll try to make it really easy to do that.

*Note: you are welcome to apply and give the album as a gift. I know some of you said you would give the album as a holiday or birthday gift, but you can’t afford to buy it (or buy an extra copy).  And you’re too honorable to rip & burn it for free — you blessed few — so here, this is your chance.  Get the download code, write it on a paper heart, put it in a little origami box made out of brown bags and gold stars, and give it to someone for a holiday/birthday/specialness present.  (Ooh, and use googly eyes.  You can never have enough gold stars and googly eyes on a present. It’s all about presentation, and good presentation can be cheap.)

I’m into solutions and this seems like a solution. Thank you, Donors’ Circle, for coming up with this one.  And thanks to you who are funding it, either one album or dozens – this is the coolest thing ever.

DETAILS AND STUFF:

If you’re interested in applying for an album, to keep or to give away, just fill out the Pseudo-Scholarship Fund form below — you can also find it at this link here.  You should hear from us within 2-3 business days to either give you your download code & congratulations, or to let you know you’re on a waiting list. [Update from April 2013: send us an email if you apply at admin@mariancall.com, so we know you have entered your info!]

If you’re interested in funding an album for someone like L.D.F., you can send money via Paypal to mariancall@mac.com and make a note that it’s for the Psuedo-Scholarship Fund. $15 pays for one album; you can send that amount right now if you want by clicking here.  Or send an e-mail if you want to pay by some other method than Paypal, I’m more than happy to arrange that.  We’ll be in touch within two or three business days to confirm we’ve applied the money where it’s supposed to go, and to express our thanks.

Acceptance of applicants will be at our discretion, but if you apply (and you’re not rude and you answer all the questions) you’ll probably be accepted, and if you’re accepted and there are funds in the account, you’ll be sent a digital download of the album, which includes a PDF of the gorgeous liner notes.  And we’ll add you to the Marian Call e-mail list, and possibly ask you to share/review the album or do some other small thing like that to pay it forward.

Let us know if you encounter any hitches (the most common involves our messages to you going to a spam filter).  Questions & observations can go to admin@mariancall.com.

Go to it!

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

Geek Girl Con! And why it matters to me.

10/07/2011 at 1:18 am | Posted in General Nerdery, News & Explanations | 25 Comments
Tags: , , ,

I never would have called myself a geek as a kid.  I was just a girl who spent every waking hour reading and exploring computers and drawing and learning and buried deep in the land of imagination.  I was just a girl who spent every recess in the library or the counselor’s office, who was socially awkward around people, who fantasized about being a robot or an alien to explain my differences from my peers.  I watched TNG every week with my Dad and wrote Star Wars spinoff stories.  But I would have been deeply confused if anyone had described me as a geek.

Because boys got to be geeks and nerds.  Thirteen-year-old me knew this from movies, adults, my peers, and especially from cartoons, ads, and shows on TV.  Boys got to have comic books and LEGO and play D&D and video games and wield plastic lightsabers.  And the truly geeky boys got beat up and ostracized and mocked for it (like my little brother), so they formed small outgroups proudly identifying more and more deeply with the activities they enjoyed.  Me, I admired those groups from afar – and retreated deep into books, drawing, writing, the land of imagination, where I could write my own adventures.

I quickly learned not to bring up the things I loved, or how much I loved them, around other girls.  I definitely learned how uncool it was to like my homework and my teachers and computers.  I grew practiced at hiding my talents in spelling and math, hiding my love for tests, so as to have any friends.  (It’s still damn near impossible for me to say out loud, “I went to Stanford,” because it’s alienating.  (But I can tell you, because you’re the Internet.)) So childhood was a wonderful but solitary journey.  I have no complaints about this — I don’t see it as a serious problem — it was just my formative experience.  A lot of people nurtured me and my interests, especially my family and certain teachers, and for them I will always be grateful.  But this part of my childhood defines me, it’s my central narrative: hiding my books and my drawings and my test scores.  That was me.  And I wouldn’t change that.

Fast forward to 2006.  I came to Myspace (a little late).  And as I filled out my “interests,” as an adult, with no peer group watching and no pressure to edit myself, I found that the list looked very, very geeky indeed.  And when I started meeting my very first few online friends — through Nathan Fillion’s Myspace page, of all places — I was surprised.  Surprised out of my shoes.  SO MANY OTHER GIRLS LIKED THE STUFF I LIKE.  Including old friends of mine with whom I had played Barbies when I would have rather built pirate ships.  We had been hiding from each other when we were young.  And here we were, all exposed by social media.  And I learned just how many other girls had also secretly been having an experience like me growing up.  I learned how many other girls are embarrassed by their academic accomplishments and love of sci-fi.

I cannot tell you how amazing it feels to find you belong to a community when you thought you were alone.

By joining the “geek” community I have met female friends who enjoy what I enjoy, and who had childhood experiences like mine.  I’ve also met plenty of awesome women who were unafraid to be themselves all along, who boast about their accomplishments and their nerdiness, and I admire the heck out of them.  Geek girls are nothing new, but our openness about it is.  Lightsaber battles are not just for the boys anymore.  And I’m so happy to finally be able to join in the fun as an adult.

These days, geek girls are finding one another and showing up at conventions and comic shops, faster and more vocally than the boys were prepared for, I think.  And it’s a good thing.  But it’s tough.  In a way we’re invading a safe space that once belonged to boys who, at least in their youth, were most comfortable away from those bizarre female aliens.  And I know what it’s like to have a safe space, and to have that space invaded by people who make me uncomfortable (not because they’re evil, but because I’m socially awkward around them, and I’m suddenly a little less free to be myself, bound by awkwardness). So I can empathize with the confusion of this new world for the boys and the suspicions that accompany it.  I’m not surprised this demographic change comes with its rubs and scrapes.

And honestly, certain parts of geek culture are slow to catch up to the fact that we’re here — women have suddenly altered the makeup of the audience, but women are only beginning to become a significant percentage of content creators.  So there are lurches and bumps and internet flame wars along the way to learning to live in a larger community, a community that was a male-dominated outgroup and is now much larger and more diverse than existing social constructs are prepared to grapple with.

GeekGirlCon this weekend in Seattle aspires to be a positive, open, fun celebration, inclusive and accessible to all types (men welcome! kids under 10 free!).  I look forward to seeing how it goes.  I have reservations, but I have a lot more hopes.  I especially hope it empowers people to be who they are and like what they like — perhaps some young girl like me who feels she’s alone in loving school work and Star Trek will learn there’s a larger community she can grow into.  Perhaps some young boy might learn it’s OK to invite that cool tomboyish girl to his D&D table even if he feels pressure not to.  Perhaps we can empower younger folks to reach across the gender divide and find pride in who they are.

The practical stuff:  GeekGirlCon passes are very accessible, starting at $20 if you pick them up in person at local businesses. The con will address some serious issues, like cattiness and sexiness and gender in comics and gaming — but most of the panels and topics are just the same geeky fun you find at any convention.  It’ll feature amazing guests like Jane Espenson, Bonnie Burton, Amy Berg, and Chase Masterson.  And me!  I’m on a Sunday panel about creating community.

And I’m playing in the awesome kickoff event!  It’s open to all, not just con attendees! YOU SHOULD COME!  I recommend tickets in advance as we’re close to sold out/standing room.  BUT IT WILL ROCK.

Seattle, WA // Fri. 10.07.11 – Geek Girl CONcert with Molly Lewis & the Doubleclicks
Tickets now on sale! Molly Lewis out of Seattle, and The Doubleclicks out of Portland.  This very special concert will be held at the Great Hall in Green Lake at 8pm – it’s an all ages show and younger folks are more than welcome.  Tickets $10-15, reduced for students and GeekGirlCon pass holders.  Facebook event here.

I have lots of thoughts about the various geek/gender battles that have broken out on the web lately, but mostly, I see all of it as a sign that we’re undergoing the birth pangs of creating a better community.  I want real discourse, healthy discussion, some education and hard listening, and that’s damned difficult to come by (especially on the internet).  But it’s beginning to happen.  We’re learning to play together.  It’s better than it was, not as good as it will be.  For my part, I want to stay positive and I want to hear some of the opinions that are difficult for people to voice.  I want to hear personal stories more than diatribes that generalize about gender.  There’s a lot of gunk we have to just get out of our systems (and out in the open) to make this community work, and let’s face it, it’ll probably be rocky.  I see myself as a peacemaker and an artist generally.  So I’m reluctant to get too deeply involved in controversies, myself.**

Because mostly?  I just want to have fun.  I want to get back to geeking out about awesome stuff.  And I want a safe community to geek out in.  That’s possible.  We can make it happen.

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

**Odds on the comments/response to this post winding up in controversy are entertainingly high.  I will be taking bets as to the topics that will inflame people about a relatively non-inflammatory personal narrative.

Something Fierce this way comes

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

**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.

One Song Left.

06/18/2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Stories from Alaska | Comments Off on One Song Left.
Tags: , , , , , ,

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

The Hot Place: Texas

04/06/2011 at 4:42 am | Posted in 49>50, Stories from the Road | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Photos to go along with this blog are at Flickr.com/mariancall.  Earlier blog posts linked & listed in this entry here.)

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

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

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

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

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

Kerrville Folk Festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cylon Device

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jayne Cobb

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

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
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s the thing:

WE DID IT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marian

Homeward Bound

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

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

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

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

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

It has come to our not-so-royal attention
that some of you in some of these very large cities
still do not have your golden tickets
to the Singular Inc0mparable Bizarre Nerd Revue Spectacular
known as #w00tstock.

The valid excuses that come to mind are Three, and I shall name them:

1. Perhaps you fear the side effects of being in such close physical proximity
to so many of the gods and demigods
of the Pantheon Of Internet Celebrities Who Are Celebrities Because
They Actually Do Cool Stuff
(the finest of the A, B, C, and D-lists will be in attendance).

AND YOU ARE RIGHT TO FEAR.
Your computer screens and smart phones
generally protect you from the full power of their collective blinding Awesome.
But think on this:
your little electronic barriers also insulate you
from the ensuing radiation-induced Superpowers
(and inevitable tragic alienation
and prolonged near-romance with a sexy investigative journalist)
that you’ve always dreamed of.
You’ll never know
if you don’t show.

2. Perhaps you have forgotten that not so very long ago
you begged and pleaded for w00tstock to come and for gods’ sake take the East Coast.
But now that it’s here, you mean to play hard-to-get
for fear w00tstock may not call you in the morning
if you are too easily conquered.
You shameless tease you.

3. Perhaps you do not know what a w00tstock is
but it’s happened a number of times already
and you are embarrassed to ask anymore,
so from time to time you just wait patiently
for everyone to quit bloody #hashtagging about it. #w00t #w00t #w00t

If this is the case,
If ignorance is your defense,
then you should ASK SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN THERE about the amazing.

(You are reading my blog on the Yntarnet right now, so I know you have time at this very moment to ask Twitter or Facebook.  And this entry gives you blanket permission to come out and confess it.  Say it with me, it’s difficult, but it feels good: “I have no idea what w00tstock is.” Ahhhh. Isn’t that better?)

It is unlike a con.  It is unlike a concert.  It is Nerd Vaudeville.
It is a Variety Show of interesting things that you never knew you were dying to see
like Chewbacca playing guitar and Marian in heels
and real mad scientists in Halloween costumes.
It is the unmatched synergy of the modern Superheroes and Sidekicks of Wit
at your service.

So.

Short of picking your pockets personally
(a chore I’ve neither skill nor time for)
I cannot remedy your pathetic ticketless situation by force —
So I haunt street corners and plague subway cars
late at night, haggard, halitosid, attempting to foist on you
limp and possibly snotty pamphlets
detailing the amazements you will miss
if you stay home and watch “Doctor Who” episodes again
which you have already seen three times sober
(and once (or possibly twice) while intoxicated).

Here, transcribed, with only virtual snot, is the text of my dirty subway pamphlet:

THE W00TSTOCK IS NEAR!  THE DAY IS APPROACHING!
PREPARE YOUR SOUL! (mandatory)

NEW YORK 10.29.10 //// COSTUME BALL!
BOSTON 10.31.10 //// COSTUME BALL!
AUSTIN 11.02.10 //// just a regular ball!
DALLAS 11.03.10 //// just the other regular ball!

REASONS TO ATTEND (mandatory):

PaulandStorm
Adam Savage
Grant Imahara
Jonathan Coulton
Neil Gaiman
Paul F. Tompkins
Bill Amend of Foxtrot
Bill Corbett & Kevin Murphy of Rifftrax & MST3K
Drew Curtis of Fark.com
Marc Abrahams of the Ig Nobel Prizes
Jason Finn of the POTUSA
MC Frontalot
Molly Lewis
Mary Jo Pehl
Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse
((me!))

And, presiding over all proceedings like the flaming Eye of Sauron,
THE UNDEAD SPIRIT OF @WILW*

Get tickets now or settle in for the looooong, dark wait for another thing half this exciting to occur. It will be a while — even for you, New York. (mandatory)

Humbly submitted for your review on too little sleep and too much coffee,

Marian Call

*Not physically in attendance. But technically speaking, “Undead” is an accurate description of @wilw at this writing.

Upcoming Marian Call shows, details and RSVP info at http://mariancall.com:

10/29 w00tstock, New York, NY
10/30 House Concert, Holden MA
10/31 w00tstock, Boston MA
11/1 Tommy Doyle’s, Cambridge MA
11/2 House Concert, Concord NH
11/3 House Concert, Montreal QC
11/4 House Concert, Ottawa ON
11/5 House Concert, Kitchener ON
11/7 Evil Squirrel Comics, Chicago IL (tickets required, http://mariancall.com)
11/9 Dunn Bros. Coffee Co., Roseville MN

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

Instructions in Excruciating Detail: Booking Shows Near You, or, Fan Power!

03/28/2010 at 10:13 pm | Posted in 49>50, How to this-or-that, News & Explanations | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

**NOTE: This is an awesome blog post, but it is out of date!  Instead, see this page for updated 2013 show booking notes!  The writing below is wonderful but also it is a historical document from early 2010.  New info:  https://mariancall.wordpress.com/booking-a-house-concert/**

This blog entry is your complete guide and FAQ to making a Marian Call concert happen in your area on the 49 to 50 tour.  Odds are I sent you here so we can make a show happen!  Below you can find links for the forms you’ll fill out and answers to a number of questions.  Please read the applicable sections before requesting a concert.

There are two kinds of shows: House Concerts and Venue ConcertsHouse concerts I set up directly with you (even if they’re not at a house, or not at your house).  For venue concerts, such as cafés, bars, farmer’s markets, and music halls, I collect information about a venue that you think is really a perfect fit and has dates open, and I contact them myself (unless the manager happens to be your brother-in-law or something, in which case you introduce us).

If you get a mass e-mail or a contact from an minion of mine during the booking process, I hope you’ll pardon me.  This project is so huge and so exciting I need a little help and a little automation to manage it all.  But the good news is it makes it possible for me to meet you in person at sometime soon!

The bestest newest ever e-mail address for booking questions, which goes to me and my various helpers: mcminion42@gmail.com!!!!!

Use this e-mail address for booking questions and venue suggestions.  No need to cc mariancall@mac.com; all the mcminion42 messages are forwarded to me automatically, and I still read everything myself.  I might have a very cool helper answer some of it though.  Don’t worry, your personal information (home address particularly) is very very safe.

Applying for a House Concert:

If you want to host or set up a house concert (even if it’s not at a house), be sure you’ve read all about how I do house concerts and then follow the instructions here.

  1. Check my Public Google Calendar by clicking here [link disabled later] to see when I plan to be in your area, and what dates I already have scheduled gigs.  The schedule and map are flexible — until I have concerts anchoring me to this location and that (so don’t cry if you don’t see your city just yet).  You can ask for a date when I’m trying to be elsewhere; worst I can do is say no.  You’ll notice that later in the fall, i.e. farther east, I’m not sure which state comes in which order yet — gigs that get nailed down will determine my route. Also note: some days I will designate for “travel” or “rest” and those are unavailable.
  2. Choose a date or dates to request. If it’s way in the future when times are flexible, just pick something you like!  Know that for house concerts, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sunday afternoons or evenings usually work just fine — and even more non-traditional times, like brunches or lunches, have worked in the past if you’re interested in something a little different.  If you’re looking for a date in, say, August, September, or October, know that we may have to hold out on nailing down the date on one show until I’ve confirmed a few others, etc. (events are very interconnected). So let me know if you have a time constraint, too, i.e. “I can do Thursdays but not Wednesdays,” or “I’ll be home this weekend but gone the next.” I deeply wish I could play in every town on Saturday night, but I can’t. I also wish I could play every day without resting, but I can’t do that either.  I’ll accommodate every request I can without running myself into the ground.  If I can’t play your town or your day, I’m sorry — hopefully I can come back!
  3. Gather information and make decisions about the kind of event you want to plan. Just figure out the basics — find out how many people you can fit (more than you think); if it’s not a house, make sure you can secure the space or find out if it costs anything; if it is a house, check to be sure that it’s yours, or that the neighbors won’t mind coming home to a big surprise.  Decide what kind of food you want to provide or coordinate, and whether kids will be welcome.  And actually count how many people you believe you can get to come from within your own social circle (I can provide more sometimes).  Decide whether you want a public or private event.  Feel free to ask  questions: mcminion42@gmail.com or, for quick questions, @mariancall on Twitter.
  4. ****Most important**** Fill out this Google form: [link now disabled]. This is how I can keep all of these requests organized and make the tour happen.  If you don’t have ALL the information, especially the optional stuff, don’t sweat it.  Though the more clearly you can visualize the event, the more likely I am to approve your date over someone else’s.  (But it’s not the LSAT.) Then e-mail me so I know there’s a new entry in the form. mariancall@mac.com
  5. If I can’t choose your proposed concert, I’d like to say in large, friendly letters: DON’T PANIC. I still love you, and I will nearly always provide you with a personal invite to another nearby show. Please don’t be bitter.  If you want to know what makes me choose some shows over others — larger house concerts will probably be better than small ones if they’re in the same area; public ones are usually preferable to private ones, so other fans can come; kids and pets have no influence on the yes or no vote, I just need to know about them; if you or your community can lodge me for free, you may have a slight advantage (though no lodging is not a dealbreaker); money overall is less important than connections — i.e. lots of people barely listening is worth less to me than just a few people really listening and caring.  Also, please don’t hold back because you think I’ll reject you — I’m happy to do small shows and out-of-the-way places if they fit into my schedule and you’re willing to bring some open ears to the event.
  6. If I do choose your concert: DON’T PANIC.  You may freak out about it sometimes, but trust me, when you look back you will find it was pretty easy.  And it will be really fun.  I’ll notify you, we’ll iron out the details and reserve the date, we’ll arrange a (very informal) contract, and I’ll equip you with what you need to set up/advertise/invite/manage RSVP’s and so on.

Explanations and disclaimers: The calendar and route are subject to change, because they must be.  The reality of such a large tour is that I may have to rearrange a date with you if my travel schedule changes (or my car breaks down).  I hope for no cancellations at all, but the universe will ultimately decide that.  So please be understanding and a little bit flexible.

If you’re offering lodging, that lodging will be for me and an accompanist (almost always a guy). We’re cool sharing a room but we don’t share beds. We’re also cool crashing on couches, air mattresses, cots, the floor, what have you.  Some accompanists are allergic to pets, so let me know in advance if you have them.

Let’s make it happen!

Recommending a Venue Near You:

If there’s a local cafe, restaurant, or music venue — or maybe a podcast or local radio station spot — that you think I should play, please, let me know about it!  It’s so hard to know which places are a good fit or locally loved when I’ve never been.  I may or may not hit them all on this tour, but I do want to know what venues I should be aiming for, and fan recommendations are the number one way I decide where to try to play.

  1. (same as above) If you want to recommend a specific date, Check my Public Google Calendar to see when I plan to be in your area, and what dates I already have scheduled gigs.  PLEASE check your venue’s website or calendar to make sure they have openings around that time before you send me pursuing them — if they’re already booked I’d hate to waste your time or mine.
  2. Not all venue recommendations require a date. So if it’s more a recommendation to file away for the future — or a radio station or podcast or another musician to work with — and not a specific concert for this tour, that’s ok.
  3. ****Most important**** E-mail Marian at mcminion42*at*gmail.com.  Let me know what the opportunity is like, and if you really want me to book a show there on this tour, please provide a date if you can and let me know you see this as a real, immediately possible event.  Let me know if you think you could bring people you know to it.  Otherwise I will probably file it away for reference and use it only if I need it, since this tour is mainly made possible through house concerts.
  4. Venues that might seem great but aren’t actually that useful: the premier venue in town, i.e. the Grand Ole Opry or Carnegie Hall. I’m unlikely to be able to play in the best spot in your city (yet).  Also, music festivals.  Folks are always inviting me to play at music and geek festivals, and I’d love to because they are FUN, but generally they aren’t the best use of my time.  I don’t make much money or connect with fans very well, the dates aren’t flexible, and I can’t take the time to keep track of all the different application processes.
  5. Venues I might like better than you think: bookstores, galleries, shops, radio stations, farmer’s markets, really good local open mics or showcases, cafes open to free lunchtime background music. 
  6. Really Good: connecting me with a local musician who does roughly what I do (someone making acoustic music full-time, touring, accessible to all audiences) to share a show.  I love to open for other artists, I love having other artists open for me, and I love to share the stage with locals.  Recommend a musician!

It’s really preposterous to attempt a tour of this size without a booking agent or full-time manager or promoter.  But you are already helping so much, and I’m hopeful your enthusiasm will only grow as this thing takes off.  I know mine is.  I can’t wait to hit the road again!  And I can’t wait to meet you or see you again.

I’ll be there soon — all my best,

Marian Call

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.