Journeyman singer/songwriter Joe Marson has been to, if not lived in, nearly every major city in the United States and even some abroad.
At 25, his soulful tracks pack wisdom and experience beyond their years. While his sophomore album "Post Card from Siren City" is receiving nationwide radio play, Marson's supporting tour takes a much more intimate approach to promotion.
Currently a resident of Austin, Texas, Marson goes back and forth from New York City, where his full electric band The Satisfied Mind is headquartered. He expects to permanently take up residence in the city that never sleeps, but frequent relocation is kind of his bag.
Raised in Southern California, he moved to Florence, Italy, in his tweens before a stint in Oregon, then Boston, then Tucson en route to Austin.
"I have been in Austin for only a year, but I love it and am sad to leave a place for the first time in my rolling stone life style," says Marson. "In terms of the music scene, it's great for performing musicians to gig and make money, but very hard to be an original artist. That's why I am making the move to New York."
Marson has also made a habit of performing smaller cities along the way. Given the personal nature of his music, it is only fitting that he play his acoustic shows in small, personal settings. House shows have become a staple of Marson's musical travels. While open to the public, the removal of a venue creates an affordable night of camaraderie for musician and audience alike.
"Most of my tour will consist of house shows actually," Marson points out. "I think house concerts capture the essence of a grass-roots movement. It's sort of the opposite to spreading your music through social media where everything is on a large scale but an impersonal platform. The performer is in an intimate setting and everyone there is there to listen to the music, as opposed to a loud bar where music can easily become the background to drinking and debauchery, which has its place too, but not so much during an acoustic set."
The atmosphere adjuncts well to the mission of Joe Marson's music, which is to spread hope. Having suffered from intense depression for much of his life, Marson's goal in writing "Post Card from Siren City" was to inspire and uplift, an objective made more probable with the establishment of close interaction with his audience.
"'Post Card from Siren City' is an amalgamation of songs written and recorded in the last couple years," says Marson. "The title comes from my experience living in Boston, on a street dominated by police cars and ambulances. So naturally I dubbed it 'Siren City.' Most of the songs on the record were recorded there in a home studio.
"The whole record is about overcoming. I was sick with the worst depression for about six years. I became a medical experiment. Over 30 different kinds of meds, the max amount of electroshock therapy allowed, all sorts of programs. And this was all before the age of 23. A lot of these songs were written and recorded towards the end of that time. It's been two years since I found the right combination of meds, and my life is turned around completely. I love my life for the first time in a long time. I try to convey a message of hope in my songs, but not trite hope. My lyrical content is set in the real world, one that can be so cold and lonely but so warm and beautiful at the same time."
With his current tour, Marson takes the familiar route from Austin to New York City, with a number of small stops along the way. Once he reaches New York, Marson will perform in the official Jeff Buckley tribute concert, having been personally invited by Buckley's mother.
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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