Something for everybody

Gretchen Weiss
Clockwise from top left, Marian Call, Liz Malys, Amy Lou and Emily Kurn will perform at the Singer-Songwriter Showcase at the Snow Goose Theatre on March 19, 2010.
MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News
From left, Marian Call, Liz Malys, Amy Lou and Emily Kurn will perform at the Singer-Songwriter Showcase at the Snow Goose Theatre on March 19, 2010.
MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News

The opportunity to hear local alternative folk musicians such as Marian Call, Emily Kurn, Amy Lou and Liz Malys is well worth the trip out the door -- but all four at once promises to be an evening of discovering new favorites.

The group is performing together for the first time tonight at the Snow Goose Theatre.

"One good thing about the night is that you are bound to hear something you like," Marian Call said over coffee at Side Street Espresso. "All four of us have different styles so there is going to be something for everyone."

Call organized the event, contacting the musicians about collaborating for an evening celebrating local music and springtime.

"We will be playing upbeat, fun songs to celebrate spring and welcome back the light," Malys said before a cello recital at UAA. "I will be playing some gospel as well as some dark humor songs such as 'Boat Captain Killer.' "

The night's music will be performed in the round, an intimate approach with the musicians sitting in a circle and taking turns playing from their repertoire of originals and covers. The four will also jump into each other's songs to add instrumentals and harmony.

"The night will feature some of the most active performers in Anchorage," Kurn said. "Having all four of us sharing the stage is really something of an unprecedented event."

Kurn plays guitar, Lou performs with guitar and piano, Malys brings her classical trained ear to the mix with piano and cello and Call proudly plays kazoo, rain stick and typewriter.

Each performer is balancing a busy schedule and they have had only a handful of opportunities to rehearse together.

"We've sent each other our songs in e-mails," Malys said. "The notion is that we will each be responsible enough to practice the songs."

Out of the four, Call is the only one currently performing music full time. She plans on spending her summer touring the U.S. Lou works as an art instructor at Winterberry Elementary School and Malys instructs and teaches cello, violin and piano and also plays as an accompanist for the Alaska Dance Theater. Kurn is busy being a new mother and composing prose and short stories.

All have already released albums, except for Lou, whose first CD, "Of Roots and Of Wings," will come out in April.

"Compared to the others, I'm the newbie," Lou said in a phone interview from Hawaii. "I have not been playing as long or as a full time as the others."

To fund her latest CD, Call asked fans to make donations to help support her efforts to be a full-time musician. She and the other performers also attempt to be local arts boosters and community builders in Anchorage.

"I have a one-concert or reading a week rule." Call explained. "If you want people to go to your concerts, you better be going out to theirs; it's the golden rule. Besides the local music and arts disappear if the events are not attended."

All four are transplants to Anchorage, coming here to pursue various adventures and then falling in love with Alaska and staying -- despite the challenges of isolation from the touring circuit.

"There seems to be this thought that if you are any good, you need to get out of Alaska," Kurn said. "I love it here. I choose to be here and it seems the level of talent continues to go up."

Call said that if Mellissa Mitchell, another local musician, wasn't out of town the performance may have been a quintet of singer/songwriters. There aren't any plans to hold another night with all of these performers on stage, so celebrate the long winter's retreat and take advantage of this four-pack of local talent.

By Gretchen Weiss