Marian Call is on tour. Not just any tour; an epic adventure-quest tour! The sassy, soulful, nerdy, funky, folky songstress, a favorite among Browncoats, is currently in the process of singing her way across the nation. I must admit that I’m a newbie to her music. How this is the case by this point, I’m not quite sure. This past Thursday evening I decided to change that fact by attending her Los Angeles show at the Nerdist Theater at Meltdown Comics. Luckily, I had a couple friends with me who knew all the song titles and even sang along a little.
As she began her set, Marian quickly made a fan out of me. She injects such quirky humor and styling into many of her songs. She’s reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor, Joan Osborne, Tori Amos, and even Jason Mraz. Her style really ranges from folk to jazz to blues, and it’s actually unfair to lump her into one category or genre. What’s important and unique about Marian is that she writes songs about whatever she pleases. One song that stands out to me is “Nerd Anthem.” Starting off with the sound of a typewriter as percussion, the song is a playful tribute to geekitude, and conveys a central message about being happy with who you are. My favorite line punctuated the end of the song: “Oh, I don’t need your approval in the end.”
- Marian sings “It’s Good to Have Jayne on Your Side” while Scott Barkan accompanies her on guitar.
Being a fan of science fiction, Marian really connects with her audience, also attracting geek celebrities like Grant Imahara and Wil Wheaton, who were both in the audience that night. She delighted the audience with “Good Old Girl” (a song about dingy old spaceships that don’t quit), “It’s Good To Have Jayne on Your Side” (a song about Jayne Cobb from Firefly), and of course, “Vera Flew the Coop” (a song about Jayne’s gun). Her talented accompanist, guitar player Scott Barkan, strummed out the tunes while Marian drummed up a great deal of enthusiastic audience participation, notably during the songs “Shark Week” and “We’re Out For Blood”. The former made me feel like a kid again, as we all shouted “CHOMP CHOMP” and pantomimed shark jaws with our arms outstretched. The latter was written for a movie called Zombie Cheerleading Camp.
While Marian’s music certainly appeals to a certain niche kind of audience, she also writes tunes that will appeal to just about anyone in the world with a beating heart. “Highway Five” is her heartfelt ode to the West Coast. Being a transplant to the West Coast for the past 7 years myself, the lyrics and gentle melody really touched me the same way that “This Land Is Your Land” by Peter, Paul and Mary touches a lot of Americans. “The Avocado Song” was another standout for me; full of soul and creative metaphor, and all about imperfect dating experiences (we’ve all had them).
Marian has been running a fan-funded Kickstarter campaign to fund her first tour in Europe, where she will also record a live album. So far, she’s raised more than $36,000 over the target pledged goal and as of this writing has 653 backers. She’s going to be playing everywhere from sci-fi conventions to space camp to bear camp. Yes, bear camp! She even described a few “stretch goals”, which include raising the funds to cover songs like the Reading Rainbow theme song, “Blackbird” by the Beatles, and “The Elements Song” by Tom Lehrer.
Marian Call is a real standout. In the geek community she’s someone we can call “one of us”, and in the music world, this lady is a bright and shining star. Not only does she have a beautiful, powerful voice, she is highly relatable and an inspiring entrepreneur. I truly admire her and wish her all the best in her musical career. If you haven’t already, check out her website. Also check out her European Adventure Quest Kickstarter page.