Marissa Owens: Scruffy Folk Player/Former Bostonian

Marissa Owens, a self-described “scruffy folk” musician got her start in Boston and, as she moves into new aspects of career, keeps Boston close to her heart.

Listen to One of her Songs:

See, Saw – Marissa Owens

A Brief Bio of Marissa:

“A self-taught, unsigned folk singer-songwriter,Marissa Owens finds her home in Portland, Maine. Currently enrolled at SUNYPurchase for studio composition, she is a barefoot traveling soul, paddingalong the riverbanks of love, hope, sadness, and longing. The deep meaning shefinds in place, and her cherishing of fleeting human interaction, pours throughher rhythmic, powerful, heartbeat-esque finger picking style. Withdiary-confession lyricism, her music exudes a feeling of being suspendedbetween wandering and searching— both lost and found, home and away.”

QWIMB asked Marissa to answer some of our favorite questions about Boston and queerness, as we like to do. Here are her responses.

What brought you to Boston?

I came to Boston to study at Boston University. I was pursuing a degree in human physiology, but instead of studying, I wrote songs and recorded them in my dorm room. Boston was the place where songwriting started for me. Unfortunately for my roommate, I was always practicing tunes. Eventually, I had to pay attention to the fact that I dreaded school and should not be wasting money or time in the wrong place. I withdrew from Boston University and decided to apply to SUNY Purchase’s studio composition program. I had a free year between studying at Boston and SUNY Purchase, and in that time I got to reflect on my experiences in Boston.

What was your experience like in Boston?

While I was in Boston, I met a lot of great people because of my involvement in the queer scene at Boston University. I made a point to go to events outside of Boston University, just to feel more comfortable in the community. Boston allowed me to be open about my queerness as an adult. That was so valuable to me.

I loved wandering around Boston. I liked getting lost in the crowd, and I spent a lot of my time riding the T alone just to think. On my campus, people didn’t smile at others walking by. I wasn’t used to that. On one hand, I wanted strangers to connect, but on the other hand, I liked passing through a crowd where nobody cared about me. It is a confusing way for me to feel, but I explored all of that confusion and angst in my songs.

What’s great about Boston is there are so many young people there. There’s a feel of excitement, inspiration, and open-mindedness.

Did you feel there was a “scene” for queer female musicians? What about queer women of color? Is there a strong Boston scene in that regard? Was it welcoming/unwelcoming?:

There is a scene for female musicians. Although I was not playing shows in Boston, all of the artists I met and respected in Boston were women. I was so lucky to meet Jenny Owen Youngs and Steph Barrak. For big names, and indie musicians alike, I think Boston has a place for all musicians, because of the range of venues available. I was really in tune with the queer musician scene, and I think Boston supports that scene as well. What’s important is for people to create the scene, and a lot of musicians are doing that, with house shows and such, and that is incredible. As far as a scene for queer women of color, I didn’t really experience that. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist, but I’m sure the scene could be much stronger. Every place could stand to be more welcoming toward queer women of color who are musicians. Every place could be more welcoming to women in general. For a woman to get up and relate what she really thinks and feels is still shamed by society. That’s the way it is for people who are queer, of color, etc. But, we ignore all of that, and keep putting ourselves out there.

Thanks Marissa for answering our questions and adding to the QWIMB community!

For more info on Marissa and her music here are some links:

Spotlight on a Touring Band: Nervous But Excited

A pleasantly aggressive folk duo?? Yes, Please.

Nervous but Excited is a nationally touring folk duo who just happens to be coming to Boston to play Club Passim on November 6. They are a couple of Midwesterners looking to build their Boston fan base. Give em a whirl eh?

Band Bio:

This Michigan-based pleasantly aggressive folk duo is a unique harmony built upon two songwriters singing genuinely crafted stories with three guitars, a mandolin, a banjo, a ukulele, a harmonica, vaguely choreographed dancing and a glockenspiel. Road warriors to the core since 2005, their endless passion has landed them on stages with folks like Ani Difranco, Iron and Wine and Utah Phillips. Their live show will bounce you through a variety of emotions, always keeping you guessing which is next. You might cry, you’ll definitely laugh, and they hope you’ll leave feeling that your heart has grown just a little larger.

Take a look at a couple of their videos and see what you think:

Upcoming Show Info:

Nervous but Excited & The Michael J Epstein Memorial Library

  • Sunday, November 6, 2011, 8PM
  • Club Passim, 47 Palmer St.
  • Cambridge

Tickets $10

Can’t make the show and/or wanna learn more?

Go to the Nervous but Excited website.

Uh Huh Her Back Again

Uh Huh Her came back to Boston on Saturday as a stop on their nationwide tour. They played the Brighton Music Hall (formerly Harper’s Ferry), which has been featuring some great shows lately, i.e. Wild Flag in March. This is a welcome change from the old club that featured college-themed reggae cover bands and hip-hop for suburbanites. Whoever is doing the booking over there has done nothing but make me happy since the change over.

Uh Huh Her features former Boston resident Camila Grey, a former Berklee student, and Leisha Hailey. Grey was a member of the band Mellowdrone and recently toured with Adam Lambert as a member of his backing band. Hailey was a member of the 90s group The Murmurs and its later reincarnation, Gush. They were joined on stage by a backing drummer and guitarist.

Most people are familiar with UHH’s first record Common Reaction, which was released in 2008. At that time, the band was caught up in a whirlwind of attention stemming from Hailey’s fame as a cast member of Showtime’s the L Word. The record is quite good, but sounds very produced. It has the big sound of a traditional electro-pop record and features a combination of darkness and catchy riffs. The musical talents of the duo were often overshadowed by the excitement of  Hailey’s “celesbian” status. There are so few well-known out women that this fact is understandable, but it can be distracting and may be frustrating for the band. While this is true, they have never been anything but patient and accommodating to their many fans, which tells me they have hearts of gold, honestly. They even met with fans after the show to say hi and give autographs.

That said, the new EP they are touring with, Black and Blue, is a strong departure from the polished and pop-friendly first record. It is reminiscent of the concept albums bands were putting out in the 70s. For those too young to know, concept albums are usually guitar-fueled epics with lots of solos and rocking out. What is awesome about this is that so few women (I can’t name any) are responsible for such albums. Women are so often making records dominated by their vocal abilities and not their ability to rock out on guitar and keys. UHH certainly has vocal abilities and they utilize them, but there is something truly empowering about watching women rock out on stage. The EP somehow manages to be accessible to fans interested in more traditional arrangements and those folks (o.k. me) who wish to play air guitar in our bedroom mirrors.

Check out Uh Huh Her’s website to get the EP. A full-length should be released sometime soon with all new material.

Speaking of women who rock, I hope everyone who went to the show saw the opening band, Diamonds Under Fire.

Straightforward rock n’ roll with just enough attitude. They were so awesome I didn’t care that the drummer kept talking about Philly while he was playing in Boston. There hasn’t been enough women in rock since the 90s riot grrl scene and Diamonds Under Fire is a welcome departure from the polished, pop-rock we’ve been subjected to for too long.

Find out more at their website.

Spectra Events Has Cool Stuff Coming Up

Thursday May 5, 2011

Spectra Events’ THE BASEMENT Live Music Series is proud to host London Bridgez, national touring spoken-word artist, for a special preview of her summer tour, featuring a LIVE Funk Band and roster of talented local artists.

The writer and performer London Bridgez pushes the expectations of spoken word. “London” is her name. “Bridgez” represents what she does. She builds bridges between poetry and music. London couples her captivating poetry delivery with a live band experience (poetry vocals +keys+ sax+ guitar and drums). London is a self proclaimed Afro Punk Poet & Soul Word Artist.

London Bridgez+Spoken word+Music= Live Art Experience

Opening for London Bridgez is local brownboi hiphop MC, Micah Domingo!

Micah – Brown Boi MC

As an emcee hailing from Boston, Micah attempts to capture raw emotions through lyrics that cut the skin and peel back all the layers, to reveal the blood and guts of what it means to be human. As a transman, he brings his struggle into the hip hop arena, displaying a unique perspective on everything from infatuation, to political revolution.

Visit his Myspace page HERE

Buy your tickets HERE

  • Doors open at 7:00PM | Show begins at 8PM
  • Featuring London Bridgez Funk Band, Micah Domingo, and others
  • This show is for everyone ages 19+
  • Tickets are $12 Advances / $15 at the Door
  • Group discounts available! Contact Spectra Events for more info

This Description from Event Brite

Also upcoming is:

May 25

Renaissance: Women in Jazz, Funk, Soul, and RnB 90s Dance Party

at Church in Boston

Buy tickets HERE

Last Fast Ride: The Life, Love, and Death of a Punk Goddess

The Boston LGBT Film Fest is showing a great documentary on the life of Marian Anderson. You may not recognize her by name, but her story is tragic, inspiring, and familiar. It will be playing at the Brattle Theater on May 12 at 9pm. Be sure to buy your tickets.

Here is the description of the film from The Boston LGBT Film Fest

An intense look at the life of a punk rock star who died before her time. If you were part of any punk scene in the early nineties, be in in SF, Boston, or Providence, you knew someone like Marian Anderson: driven, talented, sexy, and troubled. Please join us for this astounding documentary that shines a light on a musician who burned bright but all too briefly. Singer, model, dominatrix, prostitute, bisexual, drug addict, insane, intense, beautiful, loyal, genuine, selfless, tough, sweet, violent–all words used to describe Marian Anderson. Last Fast Ride–The Life, Love and Death of a Punk Goddess, is a compelling portrait of a tragic life. Marian Anderson, beautiful, talented and loved, was plagued by sexual abuse, mental illness and self-destruction. Narrated by punk legend and actor Henry Rollins, the film covers Marian’s idyllic youth, her tormented adolescence and dangerous adult life. (Description courtesy of Slamdance Film Festival.)

For more info go HERE.