Browsing the archives for the music tag.

Marian Call is on a Quest

Culture, Effluvia, Fun, Gaming, Geekery, Music
Marian Call Adventure Quest

Photo by Studio Valette,

A Kickstarter quest! Back in 2010, with help from her many fans, the charmingly geeky Alaskan songstress Marian Call managed to pull off a tour of all 50 states and a dash of Canada. In the wake of her album Something Fierce, Marian is now aiming to play Europe.

She has the music. She has the armor and weaponry. She has the kickstarter video (see below).  She has the adorably dorky Adventure Quest game by means of which the supporters of her kickstarter may unlock cities across Europe (i.e., bring her to them to play). She has a FAQ. She even has the publicly accessible thumbnail budget, whereby she establishes herself as the most open administration in history.

All she needs is support! The initial kickstarter amount takes her, and her guitarist, to England and Wales. Resources above that level unlock other countries, as shown on the game's map. Especially if you're a Popehat reader in Europe and a fan of Marian's work, please follow the links and see whether you'd like to play her game: (The kickstarter) (The game, rulebook, loot inventory, and adventuring opportunities)

Longtime readers of Popehat may recall my coverage of Marian's music– especially her lyrics– here (shallow) and here (deep).  I'll be supporting her quest, even though it means sending her far, far away to gives shows I won't attend. If you like her way of making, funding, spreading, and sharing art, then I invite you to join me!


Click to envidify!


La femme aux cordes nylon


Yes, you've heard Asturias by Albéniz a billion times. But have you ever heard it through the technical perfection and exquisitely gentle expression of Ana Vidović? Crank up the volume:

Although she's probably weary of hearing it, Ana was a child prodigy of sorts in her native Croatia. Maturity has brought interpretive sophistication to her impeccable execution. Listen, for example, to this ridiculously magnificent bit of Bach:

That's the Bourrée and Gigue from his Lute Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006a, for those of you taking notes at home.

She'll be hopping among Asia, Australia, and the Americas in the coming months. Catch her if you can!



She'll Sing For You, part 2: the Heart Fiercer

Art, Culture, Geekery

This is a post about Marian Call, and especially about her lyrics and her new double album Something Fierce.  The second in a series, it follows this one: Take a moment to read that one if you'd like this one to make more sense!

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Radio Popehat II: Electric Boogaloo


This saturday, from 2-5pm United States eastern time, I will return to the radio station I blogged about earlier for a short, free-form radio show.  Readers interested becoming listeners, in hearing my Lord Humungusesque voice, or simply a collection of rather unusual music strung together with a logic unique to me, are encouraged to listen live at 89.3 fm (if you live in a the Research Triangle area of North Carolina) or online by clicking here.

As mentioned in the earlier post, I will take requests, either by telephone (I announce the number frequently during the show), or here in comments.  For instance, a song from Marian Call's new album will be played in the opening minutes of the show.  As a bonus, I won't be as technically inept as I was last time (when I hadn't played DJ for almost ten years), because I've done five shows in the past two months. Radio DJ'ing is not like riding a bike: you do forget, but I've knocked off the rust.

Request rules, since I wasn't clear enough about them the first time:

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She'll Sing For You, part 1

Art, Culture, Geekery


In taste and disposition, we at Popehat are a diverse lot. For example, Ken is on record as an avid aficionado of opera. Patrick, a former college dj to whom the young'uns still turn in a pinch, is known for his enigmatic and challenging sets. After our comrade Ezra withdrew to his special place, Patrick took up the mantle and now offers sporadic and stochastic coverage of the audial scene. Yes, Patrick even covers symphonies and opera to placate Ken. As for me, I'm a fan of John Dowland and Yma Sumac and Radiohead and Ravi Shankar and Fred Astaire. Eclectic, we.

There must be some overlap among us, though we haven't mapped it out. But this much we already know: we are all fans of Marian Call.  Even Ezra, peace be upon him, was a fan of Marian Call.

So my next post will be a deepish dive into Marian's music or, more accurately, her poetry. And in a third post, perhaps we'll have a secret toy surprise. But if you have no patience for close reading and texty-feely artgeek stuff — if you're the Shut Up And Sing type – then this post right here is for you. Here's the Executive Summary/tl;dr version of the Minimum You Oughtta Know™ before venturing forth:

  • Marian Call is an independent folk-funky, heartfelt, humorous, jazzy, torchy, quirky singer-songwriter currently thriving in Anchorage, which is really just North-North-North Seattle and thus a super natural fit for a Washington girl with a strong sense of place.
  • We at Popehat have a colossal (aggregate) IQ, and yet we're pretty sure she could lap us.
  • While majoring in choral composition at Stanford (the axe, the axe), Marian realized that her inner vector was driving or drawing her otherwhere. Recognizing that digital distribution had altered the fundamentals of the music industry, she decided to embrace a newly feasible unsigned, try-before-you-buy, pay-from-the-heart business model. Next thing you know, she's crankin' out compelling music and hoping to roll a hard six on her gamble that educated and motivated consumers of art will sustain the art(ists) they like (and thereby not let her starve).
  • Marian Call is a word nerd, but has become the preeminent Geek Chanteuse to a wide and motley array of awkwardly obsessive acolytes. She's more than this, of course, but clearly no less. Her saintly attributes include exotic percussion equipment (a rainstick, a manual typewriter named Madeleine, a tea can containing the cremated remains of Zippy, a story-laden family cat) and measured quantities of dark, malty beer. Her superpower is recognizing paradoxes or antinomies in human experience and distilling them to heart- and mind-moving simplicity without pretending to resolve them.
  • Taking seriously the business of enjoying close communion with her fans, Marian successfully completed within the 2010 calendar year a seat of the pants, fan-semi-coordinated tour of all 50 states, several Canadian provinces, and a selection of realms in cyberspace.
  • During and after her tour, she worked on her third fully-fledged production piece: Something Fierce. She released this double album into crit-space just a few days ago (fancy lyrics, plain lyricsmusic). Give it a listen! If you enjoy it, give it a purchase! (Cool cuts: 34681218, etc!)
  • If you are a MacArthur nominator, I would like to point out that Marian Call is just, verdant, and peaceful.
  • ProTip: You can also still listen to/enjoy/buy her album Vanilla and her commissioned Firefly/Galactica album Got To Fly.

That's the wakizashi; the katana comes next time.  Meanwhile, listen to Marian Call. She'll sing for you:

… And here's Part Two.


Ha Waaa! Ha Waaa! Ha Waaa!!!


Is "Aqua Boogie" the funniest song ever recorded?  Decide for yourself:

One thing is for sure. Listening to Parliament's "The Motor Booty Affair", the album from which this song is drawn, is like eating two bowls of Count Chocula and four bowls of Frankenberry on Saturday morning, just before a two hour marathon of Roadrunner cartoons.


A Bit Of Me Is Dying…


There aren't many genuinely free-form radio stations left in the country.  I have the good fortune to live in listening distance of two, but you're probably not so lucky.

If you're a music geek, I suggest that you tune in, NOW, to KUSF, which the way things are going is about to be one of the deceased freeform stations.  A nationwide simulcast / death watch is going on. Because the University of San Francisco kicked all of the students out and sold the license to a commercial broadcaster.  A shame. It was a great station, and a far better (and cheaper) investment of  someone's donations California's tax dollars than the $350,00 annual Los Angeles calligraphy budget, in that, you know, it actually trained engineers and radio voice talent, for approximately no money at all.

If you're a music geek cynic, you'll mourn. If you're an optimist, you'll listen and hope. Either way, go to this site and listen now. Trust me, it's better than the pap Clear Channel's offering.

If you can't find the simulcast on the KUSF site, google WXYC, WFMU, or WXDU, all of which are running it.


But When You're Runnin' Down Merle Haggard Man, You're Walkin' On The Fightin' Side Of Me

Art, Culture

Here's a devastating cutdown for Andrew Sullivan's poll on the "the smuggest, most pretentious pop song in history."  Smugness and pretension being traits Sullivan embodies all too well.

Sullivan is simply pandering to his new audience of leftists who claim Sullivan as "my favorite conservative blogger," precisely because he hasn't written a conservative word since 2004.  He understands quite well that Merle Haggard was having fun when he sang "Okie from Muskogee," and on his more lucid days (Sullivan, who divides his time between the District of Columbia and the gay beach resort of Provincetown Massachusetts, has never understood middle America too well) might even perceive that Haggard's audience in the 1960s was in on the joke.

Of course, he didn't take on Haggard's far better, funnier (and smugger, more pretentious) song, "The Fightin' Side of Me," because Sullivan, who advocated the most bloodthirsty tortures, praised Guantanamo, and boosted the Iraq war up until the very day George W. Bush came out in favor of a constitutional amendment to prohibit same sex marriage, would have difficulty dealing with complaints about "switchin' sides" and "some squirrelly guy who claims that he just don't believe in fightin'".

The Fightin' Side of Me:


Willie Nelson Wrote "Crazy," "Funny How Time Slips Away," And "Hello Walls" In The Same Week


Many great songwriters haven't produced three songs so good in a career.

This is my favorite interpretation of "Funny How Time Slips Away," by Al Green:

I trust you had a productive day.

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Wagner And Motörhead: More Than Umlauts In Common


A classical vocal instructor, who knows virtually nothing about rock, is asked to evaluate the stylings of various heavy metal singers.

I have nothing but admiration for this singer. Listen how he starts off with a soft growl, then moves seamlessly into a well-supported, sustained high full-voice sound that then evolves into an effortless long scream! His diction is easily intelligible, regardless of the range he’s singing in or the effect he’s going for. He achieves an intensely rhythmic delivery of the lyrics without losing legato and musical momentum, something a lot of classical singers struggle with, especially when interpreting the many staccato and accent markings that crowd scores by Bellini, Donizetti, etc.

She wasn't actually asked to evaluate the works of Lemmy Kilmister.  More's the pity.


The Greatest Dance Ever Filmed?


Fred Astaire, and our friend Windypundit, have said it was the Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather.  I beg to differ.

It was the Berry Brothers, perhaps not as technically perfect as the Nicholas Brothers (with whom they were rivals), but far more athletic, in the relatively obscure film Panama Hattie.  Feast your eyes and ears on this.

They're like Jedi in tophats, tails, and canes.


Your Friday Afternoon Had No Idea How Much It Missed Mr. Belvedere


Been awhile since we did a Friday timewaster, but I thought I would toss out some major nostalgia. I am a trove of useless knowledge, and one of my strengths is TV show theme songs. So, imagine how happy I was to find a site dedicated to recordings of 80s shows theme songs. That's right in my wheelhouse!

Sure, there are a few notable absences – She's the Sheriff, Riptide (one of my favorite shows when I was young. Should I admit that?),  or Bring Them Back Alive (still Bruce Boxleitner's finest work) but there is so much to love here. How about the theme to one of my all time favorites – Tales of the Gold Monkey! Or A.L.F.? Who knew the Facts of Life changed their theme song so much?

One of the neatest parts of the site is the old sports show music. Remember the old NBA on NBC theme? The even older CBS one was better. I also recommend the promos section, if just for the awesome clip of Letterman making fun of NBCs promos back in the day.

The site is sort of cluttered, and the audio is Realaudio (unfortunately) but it's still a nice way to waste some Friday time. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go enjoy my favorite all time TV theme song – The Scarecrow & Mrs. King (seriously, it's a great theme. And, Boxleitner again…)


"Our guitar roadie, Chris, assures me that the panda is not of the genus 'Bear', but is actually a part of the 'Pig' family."


Iggy Pop may or may not be the hardest rocking singer of the past fifty years, but he has certainly drafted the finest contract I've ever seen.

It even insults the Insane Clown Posse. Iggy should know.  He's from Detroit too.


John Edwards Was Right!


There are indeed two Americas: One America, in which Iggy Pop can stage dive, safe in the knowledge that the audience will catch him;

Then there's that other America.

A recent Carnegie Hall audience apparently believed the geriatric punk legend capable of flight and so parted to watch him take wing at a March 1st Tibet House Benefit …

Rather than rise to the rafters, he fell to the floor, a confused audience looking on as … “nobody caught him”…

Pop said of the incident, “When I landed it hurt and I made a mental note that Carnegie Hall would be a good place for my last stage dive. The audience were just like, ‘What are you doing?’”

Now some will say that Iggy Pop, as an old man whose glory days with the Stooges are long past, had no business at Carnegie Hall, much less stage-diving at Carnegie Hall.  I disagree.  A man who began his career screaming incoherent rants like "TV Eye" and "Dirt," who cut himself with glass onstage or played shows half naked and smeared in peanut butter, belongs in Carnegie Hall as much as Otis B. Driftwood belonged at the New York Opera.

But the audience?  What the hell is wrong with these people?  What kind of rich idiot would go to an Iggy Pop show, either not knowing the man would dive, or knowing it and allowing him to fall anyway.

These people are dead inside.


Interior Soundtrack: Broadminded


Way back in November I had a song stuck in my head, and blogged it out.  I'm in a similar predicament this morning, so without further ado, here are the lyrics to the old-time / bluegrass / gospel classic "Broadminded," by Charlie and Ira Louvin, the Louvin Brothers:

That word "Broadminded," is spelled S-I-N.
I read in my Bible, they shall not enter in.
For Jesus will answer, "Depart, I never knew you."
That word broadminded is spelled S-I-N.

Some people like to gamble, now and then for pleasure
And drink a little whiskey, just to please a friend.
They say it's really nothing, you've got to be broadminded
That word in my Bible is spelled S-I-N.

That broadminded mother goes out and joins a party.
"There's nothing wrong in drinking, and dancing with a friend."
And then on Sunday morning, she'll say she loves her savior.
She should be begging God to forgive her of her sin.

That word "Broadminded," is spelled S-I-N.
I read in my Bible, they shall not enter in.
For Jesus will answer, "Depart, I never knew you."
That word broadminded is spelled S-I-N.

For to be carnally minded is death,
But to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against the mind of God,
For it is not subject to the law of God,
Neither, indeed, can be.
You'll find your word "Broadminded" means sin, if you'll read.

That word "Broadminded," is spelled S-I-N.
I read in my Bible, they shall not enter in.
For Jesus will answer, "Depart, I never knew you."
That word broadminded is spelled S-I-N.

Sadly, there are no online videos of the Louvin Brothers, who were a truly great band, performing this counterrevolutionary manifesto. But there is a live performance by the Clampitt Family, recorded in 2007, that captures some of the flavor of the Louvin original.

In olden times I was a member of a band which covered "Broadminded" frequently at small shows and house parties and the like. But I've learned, and realize that the things we did at those shows, and the irony with which we thought we approached this song, wer nothing but sin.  I'm a better man for the realization.

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