The Amazingness of Marian Call

Something Fierce vol. I: Good Luck with That

Today is November 13th. Yeah, I know. Tuesday. Well, today is better than most Tuesdays because Marian Call is re-releasing her album Something Fierce.

I’ll wait while you go buy it. Really. Go now. You won’t regret it.

Ok? Good! Listening?

So I first heard of Marian Call when I saw her name come up as one of the entertainers on JoCo Cruise Crazy 2 which took place in February 2012. I will be the first to admit that I don’t take/have the time to pursue all of the many avenues of awesomeness that pervades the nerdy world, so it’s not surprising that I hadn’t heard of Marian Call yet. So I poked at her website a bit and looked around, had a listen to some of her music. There was some good stuff there. I moved on since it wasn’t entirely my style. Alaska, huh? That’s cool.

vol. I: Good Luck with That

But I was to get a preview of her music when she was passing through Virginia on her way to somewhere else while on tour. She stopped and played for a half hour at the Can’t Stop the Serenity event with the Northern Virginia (NOVA) Browncoats. Apparently she has this song that ties into Firefly, so I figure it’d be a good time regardless.

She seemed confident on stage, like she’s done this just a few times before [kidding!]. I also noticed that she worked the handled really well. We were all singing along as she led us through the choruses and refrains of her music. She was a natural at it. We were part of the performance, really.

And the typewriter. That was different. Typewriter as percussion. Who knew! She did, that’s for sure.

Since she was on a limited time schedule, Marian asked during a break between songs how much time she had. I was having a really good time at this point (I’ve seen Serenity a half dozen times, but I do so enjoy live music!) so I shouted out the following.

“Four more hours!”

It’s a relatively small space. Everyone heard me. A moment passes and Marian Call says into the mic:

“That’s what she said.”

And the entire room bursts into laughter, but no one laughed harder than me. I earned that, but it was worth it.

And so I started paying attention. On JoCo Cruise Crazy 2, I did this crazy cross stitch thing and I was seeking (hunting? stalking?) each of the fifteen performers on the cruise for their autographs. I ran into her one evening on the Sea View Deck and she was kind enough to stop and sign it for me. We talked a bit and then she said she was looking for someone and… oh man, I’d interrupted her! And I felt bad because she was on a mission and oh man, she’s the talent, one of the performers. Regardless, she’d been very gracious and I truly appreciate that.

Time went by and Marian released a new album and went on tour this fall again, this time on the east coast. I missed one of her house concerts here in Maryland because of a conflicting schedule. Some friends of mine were there and one of them recounted to me how, after the concert, with possibly two or three dozen people there, Marian took the time to talk to each and every one of person who wanted to talk to her, get a CD signed, say Hi, I loved your show, etc.

Marian Call and Scott Barkin on JoCo Cruise Crazy 2

I got to see this first hand when I happened to be able to go to a Ladies of Ragnarok show in Cambridge, MA. I wanted to say hi, and introduce myself, but I am also very conscious of being pushy so I sat back and watched. And I saw that either Marian is a great actor or she really and truly enjoys meeting the people who make up her fans and, in a sense, patrons. Never once did she turn someone away or show any sign of impatience or irritation or even fatigue.

Eventually I did get to talk to her, finally putting a name to a face (for her, not me) and it was good.

But I left with the feeling that Marian honestly enjoys what she does: making great music and playing before smallish groups of people. It’s not an easy life, nor is it glamorous. There’s no tour bus to sleep on, no millions of dollars rolling in, no superstar fame. But I think that’s okay, that can change a person, no matter how hard you stick to your roots.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish Marian the best of success and the most that life has to offer. I also agree with the idea (not mine) that this is how music was done in the past and a model for how it can continue to be done in the future for a host of musicians who would not have “made it” before. Doing it this way, small venues and house concerts, offers an intimacy and potential for connection with an artist that you can’t ever hope to get in an arena with 40,000 fans, or even going through a autograph line at a convention.

And so I do what I can to support this kind of effort from Marian and other musicians whose music I truly love. Because it’s amazing and awesome and so many other words that I can’t think of right now and I want to see that continue. Forever. Artists bring beauty to the world and we can’t stand by and hope that someone else provides the money for it.

So, here’s what you can do, right now. Go buy this album. Support art and the people who make it. Promote the hell out of the people you know who do this sort of thing. Tell your friends who like good music. Really good music. Music that won’t come from a worldwide record label.

Music that comes from the heart.