Today, we are speaking with San Francisco’s Beth Marlin. How did you get into music?
My professional music career began in Columbia Missouri in the mid-70’s. I was playing at a small cafe when a producer from A&M Records came in to hear me, and invited me to Los Angeles to make a demo. I stayed in L.A. until 2010, when I moved to San Francisco. During my years in L.A. I recorded and showcased with my band, Speed Bumps (rock genre) until 1990, when I recorded my first album for children, SAM THE SNAKE, which won the Parents’ Choice Gold Award. I then signed with BMG as “Bethie” and had a lovely time raising two kids of my own, and being a label artist for children as well. I wrote for Disney TV, Sesame Street Live and many other projects, and I made a movie for BMG called “Bethie’s Really Silly Clubhouse”. My whole recording life has been blessed with a great collaboration with my long-time partner in music, producer Jon Baker.
You have just released the Railroad EP this year. What was the writing/creative and recording process for the album like? How did the album compare to your work as Bethie?
I am always writing songs. I rarely have writer’s block. So I sit down in my living room during a quiet time of day, and music just happens. And if it doesn’t, I do something else and then come back to it. When I feel like I have a nice batch to present to my partner for possible recording, we make simple studio recordings and then pick and choose which songs feel the strongest. In the case of Railroad, I felt inclined to do a short and sweet project that would not take as long as a full album, from beginning to end. Writing these days is all about connecting with my Folk/Americana roots. When I was “Bethie” on BMG my writing was influenced by what my own children were experiencing as they grew.
How has California helped and hindered your career?
Moving to California has proven critical for my music life. I have been able to connect with extraordinary musicians and producers in L.A. and now in San Francisco, where I live, there is a very vibrant music community in the singer/songwriter genre. Our local promoter, KC Turner, brings great music to the Bay Area and supports local musicians such as myself, by providing gigging and networking opportunities. The house concert scene in California is booming right now as well.
Which artists are the greatest influences for you and your music?
When Meet The Beatles came out, even though I was young, I fell instantly in love with those songs and sounds, and decided that I wanted to be a female Paul McCartney when I grew up. These days I listen to a lot of Americana/Folk/Bluegrass. Two of my favorite musicians are banjo great, Bela Fleck and mandolin genius, Chris Thile.
Which sort of social media services have you had the best successes with? What about these online services are different from the traditional face to face meeting and performances that musicians utilize?
I find Facebook quite useful to connect with the worldwide music community. Locally, it’s the way us San Franciscans keep track of each other’s gigs and upcoming events. Although I embrace social media as a great marketing tool, my favorite performances are listening room venues where I connect with my audience both through stories and song. Regarding networking, our San Francisco singer/songwriter community affords me lots of opportunities to meet up with my fellow musicians and chat about the business of music. KC Turner has a monthly open mic night at a great venue called Doc’s Lab. That’s a great way to debut new songs, and get caught up on what everyone’s been working on. Social media has its place. But music as a connecting rod, is the most powerful tool of all.
How has your style evolved and changed over the time since you first started performing?
We are talking about 40 years of performing, morphing from jazz/blues coffee house singing in Missouri, to punk/rock in L.A. with Speed Bumps, to kids’ music on BMG, and now back to folk/Americana. I just keep singing and writing, being influenced by the world around me and what is currently in my heart. That’s the beauty of being a songwriter and singer…you get to express yourself and throw it all out there, throughout a lifetime of experience.
What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
During my time with BMG, I sang at The White House (Easter ’94). That was an extraordinary, powerful experience. Being in the studio is always a highlight and Railroad is my 7th album. Working with my partner, Jon Baker on all of my recordings, has been a joy.
You perform live fairly often; what are your plans for 2016 and beyond?
On September 20th , 2016 I’ll be doing a fundraiser for a Bay Area organization called Bread and Roses. I do lots of shows for them. They bring music to people who can’t get out, and need it most. I am a volunteer Bread and Roses artist. I go to rehab centers, prisons, hospitals, etc. to sing. In October I will be in New England doing a bit of singing and a live radio interview with Mostly Folk in the Catskill Mountains of New York. I’m gearing up for some touring in 2017, and I plan to be at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City in February. I will be showcasing there.
How can interested NeuFutur readers locate samples of your music?
Keep up with news, gigs, releases at my website: http://www.bethmarlin.com/
Listen at Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/bethmarlin
Buy Railroad and other albums at CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bethmarlin4
My music page on Facebook…PLEASE go and “like”! https://www.facebook.com/bethmarlinmusic/
Thank you so much for your time. Finally, do you have any additional thoughts about life and the universe for our readers?
“Buy ukuleles, not guns”. And thank you, NeuFutur for the interview…cheers!