Marian Call 49>50 Tour

Marian Call house concert in WisconsinNote: Although this review is for Marian Call’s house concert in Wisconsin on May 27, 2010, her 49>50 Tour continues through January 2011.

Singer-songwriter Marian Call1 has been performing throughout the U.S. and Canada since April with her 49>50 Tour.2 On May 27,3 Call played an intimate house concert for about 40 people in West Bend, Wisconsin.

Call is an independent singer-songwriter who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. She describes her songs as “acoustic folk funk with a twist of jazz, both heartfelt and humorous” and her live performances showcase both the playfulness and emotional range of her compositions. Call has released two albums: the limited edition4 Got to Fly which was specially created for an audience of science fiction aficionados (although the songs on the album all transcend that genre), and Vanilla which demonstrates her breadth of talent in both singing and songwriting. She is currently at work on her third album, Something Fierce.

Call was accompanied in concert by New York guitarist Scott Barkan, who performed throughout the first leg of the 49>50 Tour. Call opened the Wisconsin concert with “You’re an Avocado, Baby,” inviting the audience to participate in singing the refrain/chorus. She followed that with an extensive selection of songs from both of her albums, as well as several covers.

Marian Call and Scott Barkan perform in WisconsinDuring the second set, Call offered a taste of her upcoming third album with the song “Highway 5” which chronicles her travel along the Pacific coast during her first road trip. She also delivered a powerful cover of Carole King’s “Chelsea Morning”.5

The second set wrapped up with audience favorites “Good for You, Too” and “Vanilla.” Since the Wisconsin house concert was outside, Call was forced to wrap up the show shortly after sunset when she and Barkan were no longer able to see the sheet music (or their instruments, or the audience ...). For an encore, Call performed her second Carole King cover of the evening.

In addition to her singing and songwriting talents, Marian Call also is a savvy 21st-century businessperson. She is at the forefront of the movement among musical artist to manage and market their own careers using such tools as the internet and social media.6 Call also has experimented with such promotional tactics as the “Song of the Month Project” (where fans received a different new recording every month) and a “Donors’ Circle” (where fans can invest in her art and in return receive special access to sample songs and private streaming concerts, as well as opportunities to interact directly with Call as she develops her third album).

If you have the opportunity to attend one of Marian Call’s 49>50 concerts, I encourage you to do so. Upcoming tour dates are posted on her website. I know I plan to catch Marian Call again when she passes through Chicago in early November.

I’d love to hear what others thought who were at Marian Call’s May 27 house concert in West Bend — feel free to share your experiences below.

  1. Marian Call website, @MarianCall, Flickr tour photos []
  2. The tour is called “49>50” because Call is taking it from the 49th state — Alaska — to all 50 U.S. states (and parts of Canada). Call is driving to every state except Hawaii, which for obvious reasons requires an airplane flight. []
  3. Yes, I am extremely late in writing this review. Fortunately I still have the notes I jotted down immediately following the Wisconsin concert. []
  4. Less than 100 CDs remain for purchase []
  5. Interestingly, I also saw Suzanne Vega (website, @suzyv) perform “Chelsea Morning” the previous month during her concert in Madison, Wisconsin. I guess King’s song is a natural cover choice for other female singer-songwriters. []
  6. For example, in May 2009 Wired magazine’s GeekDad included Call in his list of “100 Geeks You Should Be Following On Twitter.” []

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