Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Website

Welcome to my new website.

I’ve been in the mood to simplify things in my life lately. My website was one of the things that’s been under-construction for far too long. I needed something that would be easy to access and update, so I choose this blog format. I’ve imported old posts from my last website. This new site will encompass all the things I am currently involved in musically, including my solo project, Head Like A Kite, Animals At Night, and a few non-musical updates as well. In this age of Twitter and Facebook, it is difficult to tell where to draw the line between personal stuff and music stuff…but at the end of the day it all comes out in the songs anyhow.

I am in the deep, dark process of trying to write songs for the follow-up to Birds And Bullets Fly. As you will read below I’ve had lots of inspiration lately. I hope some good songs come of it all.


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My Father

Eddie and Zera

My father passed away. He was 61 years old. I had my flight booked to Boston to visit him in the hospital, and he died the day before I was scheduled to leave. I never got to say farewell to him in person. Instead I got to go to his wake, his funeral, and to his small room to sort through all the belongings he left behind.

I thought the hardest part of my trip, aside from flying (which I hate), would be seeing his body in the open casket. That was hard, but not the hardest part. It took all the strength I had to walk into the funeral home. The first thing I noticed, after his pale, painted lips were the rosary beads draped in his hands. My father was not a religious man. A great friend of his suggested I put a pair of drum sticks in his hands. That was exactly what was missing. The next day she brought me a set of sticks and I placed them under his hands. He would have loved that.

My father was a drummer. He also had a deep, soulful singing voice. All these years I’ve been playing music and I never gave him much credit for influencing me musically, but he did. He always had music gear around the house, and I loved plugging his microphones into his amplifier and making up songs or putting on radio shows with my friend. He took me to my first concert when I was about 7 or 8. We saw one of his favorites, Willie Nelson. My father never “made it” as a musician. He never really made much of his life. He got heavily involved in drugs and sadly that consumed him.

The hardest part of the trip was going through his belongings. What a strange thing to have to do. I felt like I was invading his space, snooping through things I shouldn’t be looking at. I kept waiting for him to walk in and ask what I was doing. It felt wrong to try to decide what I wanted to keep and what should be discarded. I packed two boxes filled with his journals, photos, drawings, a painting, hats, a shirt, and legal documents. Reading through his journals has proven to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. If that doesn’t conjure up the need to call someone and clarify things, I don’t know what would.

It’s been over a month now since he’s passed. The urge to call him is slowly fading. For the first few weeks after he died it seemed I thought of a reason to call him every other minute. A few times I actually dialed his cell phone number and listened to his still-active voicemail message. He had been sick for years, but didn’t suffer many symptoms until the very end. I guess, in a way, I am thankful the end came as suddenly as it did.

The Crumbling Stags (my father, Eddie, back row/center)

Rest In Peace.

The Carpenter from Birds And Bullets Fly. Written by: Zera Marvel

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Photo by: Amelia Gyde

I’ve been reporting more on the fun I’ve been having with Head Like A Kite lately than I have on my own project. Truth be told Head Like A Kite *is* more fun. I don’t have to book the shows, write the songs or do any of the hard work. I simply pick out a fun outfit, jump up on stage, sing some back up vocals, interact with the usually sold-out crowds…you can’t beat that.

My band has started to question whether or not I will ever play again, and I secretly wonder that myself sometimes. I feel like I’ve been too overwhelmed lately to write anything new.

On the evening of the last Head Like A Kite show I was at home getting ready, standing in front of the mirror in my black, sequined hot-pants when my phone rang. My father had been admitted to the hospital and was told he would probably not be leaving alive. I cried all my makeup off. Then I reapplied all my makeup and went to the show. I wondered all night if it was the wrong thing to do, but the show must go on.

I’ve had a troubled relationship with my father. He is a troubled man…listen to the song I wrote called “The Carpenter”. Since I moved to Seattle over 10 years ago I’ve developed a nice phone relationship with him. Our phone calls have given me the opportunity to get to know and understand him better than I ever did when we were face to face. It is a strange feeling to think of him not being here anymore, not being able to talk to him. I have a lot to process. I’ve booked a flight to visit him on the East coast. I’m hoping he makes it till I get there so I can say farewell.

I have a strange feeling this might be the start of some new songs. He has always been an inspiration in my writing…that is his gift to me, as painful as it’s been sometimes. He was not the worlds best father, but he taught me exactly how I should *not* live my life, and for that I am very thankful.

Photos from Head Like A Kite at Neumos…collaborating with Fresh Espresso, Truckasauras w/ special guests Tilson, Zera Marvel, Graig Markel, etc…

Photo by: Kristen Blush

Photos below by: Dagmar and Amelia Gyde

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Fun Times with Head Like A Kite

Head Like A Kite

The Crocodile, Seattle
November 21, 2009

Head Like A Kite – Barbara and Zera

Sunset Tavern, Seattle
October 12, 2009

Photos by:
Louise Wall

Head Like A Kite plays the EMP Stage at Bumbershoot –  Barbara Trentalange, Graig Markel and Zera

September 2009

Below:  Behind the scenes of Head Like A Kite’s “She’s Wearing That Costume” video

January 10, 2010

Photos by: Amelia Gyde

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Busy, busy, busy…bought a house, building a new recording studio, creating a new website. 2009 was filled with new adventures, new loss, new found friends, new struggles, new sadness and new beginnings. I hope 2010 brings as much adventure, less sadness, and much creativity.

The Recovery Room Studio is growing! Check out the progress and transformation of our late-landlords wood shop into a beautiful, new recording studio.

Recovery Room Studio – formerly housed in the half-basement of the rental Graig and I occupied for the last 10 years. We were able to purchase the property from our late-landlords estate. We gained access to the out-building on the property which we’d never been able to use. We are in the process of renovating and are very excited about this new space! Check out the photo gallery below.

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Reverb Festival Photos

The Seattle Weekly Reverb Festival turned out to be a lot of fun. Admittedly I was a nervous, sad wreck because we had gotten some horrible news the day before the show. Luckily the sold-out-crowd at Conor Byrne was very attentive and appreciative. Thanks to all who made it a very special and cathartic evening!

Thanks to the person that gave me the Mike McGinn For Mayor sticker (on my leg) – it was nice to meet Mr. McGinn after the show and I hope he wins!

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Seattle Weekly REVERB Festival

I am excited to be performing at this years Seattle Weekly Reverb Music Festival on Saturday, October 3rd. One evening, ten venues in Ballard with over 60 bands including: Kay Kay & His Weathered Underground, The Maldives, Fences, Brent Amaker & The Rodeo, Star Anna, Barton Carroll, Rusty Willoughby, Visqueen, and more!

Also, to add some political excitement to this rock n’ roll filled evening: the two men running for Seattle Mayor, Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan, will be appearing at Conor Byrne at 8:30 p.m. to verbally berate each other and (hopefully) enlighten us all as to what they actually plan on doing about our city’s myriad of problems. This debate will be moderated by John Roderick of The Long Winters.

My band and I will follow the Mayoral face-off. We play the Conor Byrne stage at 9:30 p.m.

Conor Byrne
5140 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle WA 98107

The line-up for the Conor Byrne stage:

7:30 Kaylee Cole
8:30 Mayoral Debate
9:30 Zera Marvel
10:30 Barton Carroll
11:30 Star Anna

For the complete schedule and ticket information visit

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The last month of summer felt like fall. Everything but the leaves were changing.

I had never heard of Larry Knechtel until recently. A friend mentioned his name and suggested we get him to come over to record piano on some songs. I looked him up on the internet and was surprised I had never heard his name before. He was a Grammy award-winning musician with an extraordinary musical history. I didn’t know what to expect when he pulled up to our house to record in our modest, home-recording studio.

In the sixties, he was one of the top session men in Hollywood. He was a member of the Wrecking Crew, one of the most successful groups of highly versatile studio musicians in music history. He recorded with Elvis,The Beach Boys, Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, The Doors, The Byrds…and here he was coming to our basement. I was embarrassed to play my simple, little songs for him.

I had nothing to fear. He was the kindest man. Full of rock and roll stories that he enjoyed to tell because he knew we cared…not because he needed to boast. We hung on his every word. It’s not everyday that you come across someone who’s recorded with Elvis Presley AND Elvis Costello. His stories were humble and sincere.

Zera Marvel & Larry Knechtel

One of the things that touched me most during his two visits was the way he spoke of his family. His eyes would light up when he spoke of his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. With all the things he’d seen, all the places he’d traveled, it was obvious what was most important to him.

I am absolutely honored that I had the chance to have Larry record on two of my new songs. On August 20th, 2009, at the age of 69, Larry Knechtel died suddenly from undiagnosed congestive heart failure. To say that he will be missed is an understatement. I will never forget his quiet, sincere nature.

Visit the sites below to learn more about this talented, true musician:

Official Website of Larry Knechtel


NY Times

Listen to a rough mix of “Death Wish” – a new, unreleased song that Larry Knechtel recorded piano on.

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Head Like A Kite Show Review

Posted by Larry Mizell, Jr. on Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 10:30 AM

(All flicks by James Bailey.)

Due to prior commitments, I missed a show I was very interested in last Friday: Head Like A Kite, Dyme Def, and Mad Rad at the Croc. A great and non-contrived mixed bill- my favorite; i’m seeing a lot of cross-genre appreciation going on these days, but it can often happen in a really hackneyed way. I hadn’t seen anybody post about the show, so I thought I should give it a whirl, since I was totally there in spirit. Over the weeked I tried to get a coherent account- and all reports indicated something epic.

Members of Head Like a Kite(one of which is Stranger contributor Trent Moorman), Mad Rad, Dyme Def, The Saturday Knights, Animals at Night, Crooked Fingers, and Zera Marvel were onstage at the same time. HLAK played a cover of Neil Young’s “Ohio”. Mad Rad’s P-Smoov played keys and rapped through his vocoder. There was a panda head, and at least one mannequin head onstage. Someone apparently fell offstage and broke their arm.

Kerri Harrop‘s account says it all:

“Friday night was the first time Mad Rad has played the Croc, and also the first time I have seen them perform. They absolutely won my heart. I get what the hype has been all about, and it is much deserved. That finale was mind blowing — HLAK pounding it out, with Dyme Def keeping the flow going, and Mad Rad all over the stage like a party you never want to stop. Plus, Tilson! And Zera Marvel, Graig Markel, et all. Seattle is doing huge things right now, and that is not just idle talk.

“The crossover between rock and hip hop is nothing new, but the way it is being played out on stages around town right now is exactly how it should be done. I’m not talking some wack ass Limp Bizkit kind of shit, nor am I even conjuring the beautiful groundbreaking glory of RUN-DMC with Aerosmith as a comparison. I am talking about an organic melding of musical genres, each steadily blowing up within the same city, and coming together to form a more perfect union.

“It is a poetic thing, and I hope fools recognize the importance of what is going on culturally in this city. you saw it at the Funhouse on Thursday, the Croc on Friday, and all over the 206 on any given night.”

You know that show was a major one when Mad Rad wins over the head of security, which is exactly what they did Friday night. Well done to all, and thanks for making good times happen at the Croc.”

Sounds like a beautiful thing, and the product of genuine fun and excitement- not mere PR. Man, I’ve seen PR try to create that sort of excitement here before, and it’s just not the same. Well done, people.

Read the article HERE.

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Photos from The High Dive Show

Thanks to all who made it out to the show!

After our set at the High Dive Graig and I ran over to the Crocodile and jumped onstage with Head Like A Kite.  A fun-filled night of music!

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Show with See Me River

My band and I will be playing an acoustic set at the High Dive on Friday August 14th. If you’re in town, we’d love to see you. It will be a great night of music. Come out and have a beer with us! The details are below:

High Dive
513 N 36th, Seattle

Zera Marvel (9:30 PM)
Whiting Tennis
See Me River
Jeremy Burk

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Photo Of The Day

Photo by: Victoria at Hot Avocados Photography

Thanks to threeimaginarygirls.com and Imaginary Liz!!!

“Seattle’s Zera Marvel recently opened up for Tom Brosseau at the Tractor and I have to admit, if she wasn’t so incredibly kind, I’d be quite jealous of her. Besides being quite stunning on stage, she belts out sultry sweetness tailored for sharing a stage with TomB.”

– by imaginary liz

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Interview with groupee.com

Birds And Bullets Sing For Zera Marvel

We sat down with the lovely and talented Zera Marvel, formerly of Tagging Satellites, about her latest solo album Birds and Bullets Fly.  We talked about the album, recording, and the Seattle music scene.

The new album is out now, and it’s your first solo release since Tagging Satellites.  Tell me a bit about how it was making this album?

Zera Marvel: It is my first solo release and it took me forever to put it out! Having been in a band prior to this CD, I was accustomed to other people contributing to the songwriting process. This time around it was all up to me, and I’m not as prolific as I wish I were! It is kind of nice at the end of the day though, because even if the songs are not perfect hits that everyone loves, they are all mine.

You have an eclectic sound- sometimes country-ish, sometimes more rock.  Who are some of your influences?

I am influenced more by the mood of a song, or the mood of an album, more so than any particular artist. I generally love sad chords and simple phrasing, or songs that make you feel like you could be watching a movie. Musicians that are technically good singers, or good players have never moved me as much as the ones that are a little off key but right on with the mood they set.

Where did you record this album?

My husband, Graig Markel, has a recording studio called The Recovery Room. It is really convenient to have access to the studio, but at the same time it is sometimes too convenient! I don’t feel any pressure to get in and out of the studio within a week or two therefor the recording process kind of gets drawn out over time. I’ll write a handful of songs, we will record them, then walk away for a while. Then I will write a handful more and start the process over again. Perhaps I should just book a set amount of time with him so I have a schedule to stick too. I’m not a paying customer though so that also comes in to play when I’m trying to get him to go down there on his days off!

You worked with some of the same people on this album as you did in Tagging Satellites.  Is it different working with them as a solo act then as a band?

After Tagging Satellites broke up, I didn’t really believe I had it in me to play music any longer. I was kind of devastated for a while, and I didn’t think I could do it on my own. It was comforting to have my friends around when I started work on my solo material since we had all worked together for years.

I recently started working on the follow up to Birds And Bullets Fly and I am now playing with some different fellows. Graig is the only remaining Tagging Satellites member that still plays with me. It was a really nice transition and I am grateful that Jeff and Shea (from Tagging Satellites) were able to see me though, they were really supportive and instrumental in letting me find my wings.

If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would be your favorite person to record with?

I am WAY too shy to record with anyone I don’t know. Even if it was the ghost of someone I admire, I’d still be too nervous!

How do you go about songwriting? Do you have lyrics first or do you have an initial tune that sparks ideas?

I used to spend a lot of time writing words. Then I found that it is a lot easier for me to sit down with my guitar and come up with a few chords that then inspire the direction the song is going to take. It is nice to have material already written to pull from, but ultimately the songs end up taking on a life of their own and kind of guide the words into place.

Do you feel like there is still a vibrant music scene in Seattle?

Definitely! I feel like it is getting better and better all the time, which means more competition! Which is great because I think that it raises the bar and makes each band/artist have to step up their game.

Do you feel like it is any harder to be a female artist in the Seattle music community?

Well, I don’t know any different, so it’s kind of a tough question to answer. As far as I can tell, it is hard to be a musician/artist no matter what sex you are and no matter where you live. Art and music all come down to personal taste and opinions and marketing.

I think it is equally difficult for every guy I know that has written beautiful songs, but still has to slave away at a crappy day job. It is hard for anyone, male or female, when you have a dream that you follow without much regard for your future. As I get older I think it scares me more and more because I’m still not able to settle into a “real” job situation, because I am not ready to give up my passion for playing music, regardless of my financial situation or future quality of life.

Are you doing any touring with this album?

I love touring. Having said that, I’ve never had the privilege of being on a financially successful tour. I don’t have the balls to ask my band mates to hit the road with me, and pay their own way, because that isn’t fair. It is difficult when you don’t have the support of a record label and a booking agent.

Where is the new record available?

It is available online through CD Baby. MP3s are also available though CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, and a few other on-line retailers. Here in Seattle, it is available at my favorite local record store, Sonic Boom.

Story by Melissa Suther

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Show with Tom Brosseau

Tractor Tavern show with Tom Brosseau coming up on Wednesday, June 24th. I’ll be playing with my full band and we’ll be debuting at least one new song and re-working some of the old ones!

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I am extremely thankful to the talented people who made this video happen. We had a very tiny budget…TINY! Yet, they managed to come up with something that is rich in color and professionally executed!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to….

Directing: Michael O’Neill & Jana Huskey of Stolen Matches Productions

Hair and makeup: Erin Skipley of Bellatrix Studio (extra thanks for making me look alive since I’d just crawled out of bed with a terrible fever!)

And thanks to Columbia City Theater, Graig Markel and Brent Lehmann.

PS the truth of the matter…I was SO sick when we filmed this video, but we could not reschedule. Here I am just 2 days before at my doctor’s office.

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The Stranger’s Sex Survey

Seattle’s news and entertainment newspaper, The Stranger, recently held a Sex Survey. My name was on the “Which Seattle Musician Would You Most Like To Bang?” list. When I first heard about this (my husband told me) I was kind of creeped out. I am still kind of creeped out by it, but thankful that someone, somewhere, at The Stranger, was kind enough to mention my name. I really didn’t expect to do…um…as well as I did, considering that no one knows me, and I am not a very popular artist here in the Northwest. I was really surprised (and creeped out!) to get as many votes as I did.

From The Stranger’s Line Out music blog:

Which Seattle Musician Do Most People in Seattle Most Want to Bang?

The sex survey results aren’t all in yet—we’re taking surveys until tonight at midnight—but I just asked our data-cruncher extraordinaire Sheree Peña to grab a chunk of the data on the question about Seattle musicians and put it in visual terms. Sheree selected the first 3,800 responses to the question “Which Seattle musician would you most like to bang?” To make the data manageable, the survey has 13 names on it to choose from, with a 14th write-in option.

The chicks in United State of Electronica are ahead of everyone, and winner among men so far—your eyes are not deceiving you—is a running tie between Dave Matthews (!?) and the entirety of Fleet Foxes (is it just a group-sex thing?). If you would like to have your say, the survey, would love to hear from you.

* I am too gay to weigh in on the ladies, though I sat across a table from Zera Marvel very late at night recently and felt something special happening inside me.

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on Fri, Apr 17, 2009

And the final results are in…

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Head Like A Kite at The Crocodile

Photo by: Michael O'Neill

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Show At The Sunset Tavern

Join us at the Sunset Tavern in Seattle on Thursday, April 9th – we will be playing a short set to open the evening for our friends The Memphis Radio Kings who are celebrating the release of their new CD, followed by the sexy, electro-pop duo Trentalange. My band is going to mix things up this time around with Graig Markel playing some lap steel as well as guitar and Gregg Panto playing some guitar and banjo. We go on first around 9…don’t miss out!

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CD Release Show…so much fun!

Thanks to everyone who came out to help me celebrate the Seattle release of “Birds And Bullets Fly”. The show was amazing. Performing live usually makes me nervous, but I decided to replace the word “nervous” with “excited” for this one evening…and it seemed to work. I had so much fun playing. This CD has been a long time in the making and there were times when I honestly thought it would never see the light of day…keep reading the blog below for all those dirty details! Anyone who paid admission to the show the other night got a free copy of “Birds And Bullets Fly”. The box at the entrance that was filled with Cd’s at the beginning of the night emptied quickly. After the show I handed out about 50 more copies. It felt so good to put the CD into the hands of people that wanted to hear it. Thank you, again, to everyone who has been so patient and supportive. If you enjoy the music, please tell your friends. It is available locally in Seattle at Sonic Boom Records and on-line at: CD Baby

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Recommended show tonight:

Zera Marvel album release tonight with Husbands Love Your Wives and Sons of Sweden

The simmering, sensual sounds of Zera Marvel’s new album Birds And Bullets Fly has had me ecstatic for weeks, and tonight the mighty Ms. herself joins partner Graig Markel and an equally awesome line-up of Husbands Love Your Wives and Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden at the Tractor for its official release party.

The very low $6 door charge actually gets you a copy of the ten track song cycle, as sweet and bracing as any full length to come out this year.

Read the review on threeimaginarygirls.com

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“Tonight is a release party for Zera Marvel’s first album, Birds and Bullets Fly, and it’s hard, if not impossible, to avoid the early Neko Case comparisons. There’s a kind of sullen country vibe—maybe “country gothic,” in the literary sense of that loaded second word—that resembles Seattle’s favorite red-headed export. Marvel doesn’t have Case’s over-the-top pipes, but she’s better at atmospherics: Her songs are tiny, sad stories, beautifully told with an aching heart. If you can listen to Marvel and not get that genuinely sad, old-school country-music hurt in your gut, there’s something wrong with you.”

– Paul Constant, The Stranger
11pm Zera Marvel (with full band)

10pm Kate Tucker And The Sons Of Sweden

9pm Husbands, Love Your Wives

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Cover design: Tracy Bliss
Photo: Troy Critchlow

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CD Release Show Poster

Poster design by: Tracy Bliss

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CD Release Show Line-Up

I’ve been busy practicing with my band, getting ready for the CD release show in March – we are all really looking forward to it! Please mark your calendars for March 12th at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle.

11pm Zera Marvel (with full band)

10pm Kate Tucker And The Sons Of Sweden

9pm Husbands, Love Your Wives

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CD Release Show News

Happy New Year! Lots of exciting things happening. My CD’s are finished and the release show is planned for March 12, 2009 at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle with: Husbands, Love Your Wives and Kate Tucker And The Sons Of Sweden.

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