Marian Call and Molly Lewis in Fremont

From MarianCall.com:

Marian Call delivers whimsical Alaskan folk funk for the Coffee Counter-Culture. She sounds a little like Joni Mitchell &; Regina Spektor raising the child of Jason Mraz &; Erin McKeown. Call's sound is always soulful, honest, and clever, loved by all types -- computer geeks, church ladies, teenage thugs, NPR listeners, and urban hipsters worldwide.

I first learned about Marian Call on the Seattle Geekly podcast.  If you are interested in the geek goings on in Seattle, you should be listening to Matt and Shannon's show, too.

Marian Call's music is basically Lounge meets Torchsong meets Nerdcore.  When I learned should had a show coming up and -- wonder of wonders -- I was going to be in town for it, I knew I should go.

I almost skipped it, however.  I was tired from a prior trip, and since I hadn't purchased tickets in advance I wasn't forced to go.  It just seemed easier to skip it for no good reason.  I get that impulse from time to time, and I resist it.

For several years, I had a sign up in my bedroom that said, "Don't not do stuff you enjoy for stupid reasons."  This mantra is what got me out the door on Thursday evening.  And I'm glad I went to the show.

Molly Lewis opened for Marian.  Molly, you may recall, also plays at w00tstock! and she often tours with Jonathan Coulton.  Molly sings awesome ukulele songs about Wikipedia and the Abraham Lincoln assassination.  I've now been to 5 shows where Molly played, meaning I have seen more of her concerts than I've seen of Billy Joel concerts.

Molly really seems to have grown as a performer over the past two years.  She appears more confident on stage with both her music and her crown banter.  She's less self-conscious than she did the first time I saw her.

Bottom line is that she did an awesome job.

Image by Brian Adams at http://baphotos.com
Marian Call was a surprise in a couple ways. For one thing, she is a surprisingly petite woman.  With her voice I expected someone a little taller and, well, bigger. For a another, she seemed a little more self-conscious on stage than I expected. For a third, she used a mechanical typewriter as a musical instrument.

That's all minor stuff, though.  The amazing thing about Marian is the power and richness of her voice. There were probably about 100 people in the room (maybe more), and I think Marian could have performed without a mic if she needed to.

It's not just the volume, but also the richness and energy of he voice.

I can imagine listening to here sing while I sip  a cocktail in a lounge in Rio De Janeiro on the hot evening of day 3 of a 4 day artificial intelligence conference.  Other attendees will be whooping it up in a sports bar down the street watching soccer, while just half of the tables at the lounge are occupied by couples and singles who know they are experiencing something special, in a unique place and at a unique time as Marian slowly sings, and the waitresses slowly pour themselves around the tables.

At the Fremont show she sang songs about love and science fiction -- about space travel and pick up trucks. She sang about cheerleader zombies and karaoke. She sang about Geek pride and insecurity.

It was a great show.  It didn't have the same zany energy you see at other shows, but that's not what this one was about.  It was a lower key event and that was just fine.

The show did lack a sense of intimacy, but that's likely because Marian rarely performs with a band or (I gather) a crowd this size.  The show also seemed to be something of a homecoming for Marian.  And that's a tough balance.  I imagine that as Marian gains even more success (a given) she'll become more experienced with this format.

Regardless, if you get the chance, catch her show.  She has shows coming up in Vancouver, BC; Bellingham, WA; and all over the east coast as she strives to perform in all 50 states. You can see her upcoming schedule here.  You can also learn more about arranging a house concert on her site.

You can listen to her songs for free here.

It's certainly not a bad way to spend a Thursday evening.

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