Music, Puppets and Avocados with Marian Call

I have a confession to make: Until about 3 weeks ago, I hadn't really heard much of Marian Call's music. I had heard of her, sure. I knew she was in the circle of incredibly talented musical geeks like Jonathan Coulton and Paul & Storm. I'd heard Phil Plait and Wil Wheaton rave about her talent. But I hadn't actually heard her music. There was something about a typewriter being involved…?

So, when I found out that Atlanta was hosting a couple of her shows and that we'd have a chance to hang out with her, I was more than a little intimidated. WHAT IF I DIDN'T LIKE HER MUSIC? WHAT IF SHE FOUND ME OUT?

In the weeks leading up to her show, I started listening to her new album, Something Fierce, and discovered what so many others (but not enough) have: this woman has TALENT. Her music is fantastic and I started to really look forward to the show. And still, I had no idea what I was in for.

In person, Marian is smart, funny, approachable and very, very goofy. She's what you always hope a celebrity will be. She's eager to try new things and embraces the nerdy, strange ideas that tend to come out of her fans. And the Mad Art Labbers were no exception. Ryan, for example, had seen these pictures of Marian online and decided to design her something more practical. So he drew up a picture and sent it to give her and she loved it.

Steve D, who had seen her in North Carolina a few days earlier, heard her mention that one of her songs was really sort of 'puppety' and he suggested that perhaps the Death by Puppets gang could help her out. She leapt at the idea (more on that later).

And then she went up on stage and I was blown away all over again. As fantastic as she was on my headphones, she was a thousand times better in real life. 

Whether she was belting out "Karaoke" (her first song of the set, and a brave choice since her concerts often include people who haven't seen her before and the song involves her singing the chorus entirely off key) or crooning "Highway Five", a soft, sweet love song to the west coast, Marian seems to sing the way she lives, without hesitation. She talked to us about everything from her nerd impostor syndrome (she doesn't have time to watch movies, so she hasn't seen a lot of the 'standard' nerd fare) to her concerns about the lack of community in an increasingly less-religious society. She laughs easily, she makes friends with everyone, steals avocados without hesitation and makes incredible music.

To top it all off, she was accompanied by the incredibly talented Scott Barkan on guitar. 

Scott's guitar work is a perfect accompaniment to Marian's voice and he sang a solo piece that I loved.

We were lucky enough to hang out with them and to be a small part of their show. Below is the result of the puppet idea. Enjoy! And if you have a chance, do not hesitate to go see one of her shows. You won't be disappointed.


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. I concur with the assessment that this woman makes fabulous music. I didn't know who she was until I was told that I should make her some armor. Now Something Fierce plays on repeat while I'm at work.
    Marian, if you read these, do a show in Waterloo or Toronto and I WILL make you some armor.

  2. Steve and Ryan: Yes – the awesome Ms. Call played Kitchener in November 2010 and I has the luck to be there and meet her and chat with her a little bit.  I even help load up her trusty subaru afterwards. 🙂
    I was soooo jealous when I heard she was going to be in Atlanta and people I knew would be seeing her perform. 🙁

  3. I had no idea she had such a following! I used to watch her at open mic night at a bar in Anchorage, I'm glad to see she's getting some notice!

  4. I have to confess I had no idea who she was until a couple years ago, when Phil Plait started talking about her on Bad Astronomy. Even then I didn’t take much notice. But, at Dragon*Con 2010, I wandered into a (possibly impromptu) concert in the bar of the hotel I was staying in. It was something like “Hey, Marian Call’s playing downstairs. Wanna go?” “Sure, why not?” But then I actually sat down and listened. That pretty much sealed it for me.

    So, yeah, word-of-mouth plus live performances – very effective combination.

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