A little while ago, while noodling around YouTube, I came across the videos for w00tstock – and in amongst the footage for 4.0, my brain exploded when I discovered the joys of singer-songwriters Marian Call and Scott Barkan…
Marian is based out of Juneau, Alaska, while Scott hails from New York, and the two of them clock up thousands of miles, entertaining fans in the USA and Europe. Marian asked me if I was on her email list, so I could be notified about the UK section of their tour schedule; I was off like a shot to her website to sign up!
And it paid off: Back in mid-October, an email showed up with details of the European gigs – and there was to be one in Sheffield, only 20 miles or so from me! And given that the gig was taking place in mid-November (yesterday, in fact), it’d give me plenty of run-up to get the money together.
Trouble is, as excited as I was (i.e. very), I was also very nervous, because I didn’t really know how these things were meant to go. That sounds very n00bish, I’m sure, but in the entire 42 years of my life, I have never intentionally attended a concert or gig. A few weeks ago, I was in Cask Corner in Doncaster, and a gig was taking place – but I was there to meet my best friend, John Croucher, so that definitely doesn’t count (and I wasn’t paying attention to the band; the venue seemed nice, though).
Still, if Marian and Scott were really as nice as they came across on the w00tstock vid, it would all go OK. Right. Right?
So this is the part where I have to avoid gushing too much… *deep breath* OK, here goes…
Well, there goes that plan.
Now, I’ve watched videos of other artists’ live performances before, and all too many times, they’ve sounded much better in the studio versions. Marian is one of those rare artists who makes great music in the studio, but her live performances are very special indeed.
I’m sorry to say that I’m not as familiar with Scott’s work, but I loved the performances I saw on video. And it was even better to hear him in person, singing his own songs as well as providing the backing melodies for Marian.
Speaking of which… Marian and Scott work so well together. Call it “professional chemistry” (I did, when I was trying to explain to Marian), but the level at which they’re in sync with each other really stood out for me.
I wasn’t expecting audience participation, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to be the grouch who sat it out! Besides… er… I was already quietly singing along with “The Nerd Anthem”, “Good Morning Moon”, and “Karaoke”; hopefully quietly enough so as not to ruin the experience for the other 15-or-so audience members. (The Harlequin Pub is small, charming, and cosy. Loved it.)
During the interval, and after the show, we got to hang out with Marian and Scott. They’re so personable, charming1 and sweet! *squee* I hope I didn’t make (too much of) a dork of myself; it’s an unfortunate trait of mine (as previously documented). Though I did ask a deliberately dorky question of Marian: “Was your first five-syllable word ‘cartilaginous’?”2 Hope Marian can forgive me for that ;) (For the record: her first five-syllable word was apparently ‘indubitably’, from Mary Poppins.)
I did probably let slip a little too much of my life story (*facepalm*), as well as unveiling my super-villain name (“The Enabler”), and showing off my evil laugh… It helped somewhat that there was still a couple of other audience members/friends of Marian that stayed behind after the others, so I didn’t feel too awkward. (At that point, I still had half an hour before setting off for the train station, so I was relieved when they all kindly said it was OK for me to sit with them.)
I’m pretty sure I blew Scott’s mind when I told him it was my first-ever gig (Marian already knew), and he – like Marian – said he was honoured that I had chosen their gig as my first. I was honoured to have the chance to see them, so close to home (and I wasn’t the only one from the audience who used that description while talking to the performers).
And when it was time for us all to say goodbye, I got autographs and hugs from both Marian and Scott, which was just awesome. Thank you so much for undertaking such a gruelling touring schedule, Marian and Scott. Naturally, I can only speak for myself, but if your other fans enjoy your shows even half as much as I did last night, then I hope we all make it worth your while.
For me, the whole experience really was magical3, and should they return to the area for another show, I’ll be doing my damnedest to go again (so long as I’ve not made either of them too uncomfortable from this blog post’s gushery!).
If you’re in the UK, and want to experience Marian and Scott’s awesomeness for yourself, the following tour dates remain:
Bath, UK // Wednesday Nov. 13 – Friends Meeting House
An intimate concert right in the heart of Bath, downstairs in the old Quaker meeting house. Free, 19:30, £10-15 donation recommended, all ages. At the Friends Meeting House, York Street (between Terrace Walk and Abbey St. near the visitors’ center), Bath, BA1 1NG
Manchester, UK // Thursday Nov. 14 – NEXUS Art Café
The Nexus Art Cafe hosts Marian for a big show! Special guest Scott Barkan, plays a set featuring his new album Flightless Bird. Bring your friends for what is sure to be a great evening. 20:00, Nexus Art Cafe, Dale Street (opposite Vinyl Exchange), Manchester, M1 1JW.
Birmingham, UK // Friday Nov. 15 – Urban Coffee Company (Church Street)
An evening at Urban Coffee Co. with the entire venue dedicated to the concert. Free, 19:30, £10-15 artist donation recommended. 30 Church Street, Colmore Business District, Birmingham B3 2NP
London, UK // Sunday Nov. 17 – White Lion Pub
Join Marian for a repeat show at The White Lion, a lovely cozy pub in London. 19:00, free with £10-15 recommended artist donation. Quick heads up: Google Maps may bring up the wrong pub, but the address definitely is Central Street. White Lion Public House, 37 Central Street, London, EC1V 8AB.
You can sign up to Marian’s email list to be notified of shows; you get two or three emails per year. USA fans sign up via her own website’s contact page, while fans in other countries should head on over to her page at Fanbridge. And Marian’s main website is, of course, mariancall.com; links are available on that site to listen to, and buy, her music.
I couldn’t find a sign-up page for Scott’s email list – at the show last night, he asked us to write down our email addresses on his clipboard. But you can find his website here, where you can also check out his music – particularly his latest album, Flightless Bird (I bought it last night at the show!). Click the “Download” link if you want to purchase a digital version.
If you do find yourself in a position to be able to attend a live performance, I urge you to jump at the chance. You won’t regret it…
1 The pub was charming, and Marian and Scott were charming. Deal with it ;)
2 In case you’re not aware, the “first five-syllable word” lyric comes from The Nerd Anthem, while “cartilaginous” appears in Shark Week, both of which you’ll get to hear if you check out the second link in the first paragraph!
3 Marian commented, after seeing that tweet, that she’d thought I might have been exaggerating. I pointed out that, due to my own issues with self-esteem, I don’t like to screw with anyone else’s. In short: I don’t give false compliments :)