Beth Marlin
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Beth Marlin

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF | AFM

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo Folk Country




"Singer's Long Winding Road Includes Pivotal Year in Columbia Clubs"

Singer's long, winding road includes pivotal year in Columbia clubs
By ALAN GOFORTH Special to the Tribune
Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 12:00 am
Beth Marlin was not exactly sure what she was searching for when she moved from New York to Columbia in the 1970s — but she found it.

“It was a transitional time in my life,” she said. “My friend had a farm near Columbia and said, ‘Come live with us.’ I worked odd jobs and played whatever gigs I could get around town under the name Bascha, the Russian nickname my grandfather had given me.

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Singer inspired by grandmother's voice, heritage

“One night David Anderle, a producer for A&M Records, was in Columbia to see his band the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. After their show, he came to the club where I was singing and said, ‘Come to L.A. and make a demo for me.’ About six months later, I got in my VW van with my cat and drove to California.”

That serendipity launched a career that has spanned a broad range of musical genres and profound changes in the recording industry. Marlin discussed her career between performances at the Folk Alliance International conference held Feb. 18-22 in Kansas City.

Marlin grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., perhaps best known as the home of the Petrie family on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

“My dad was a stage father, and he got me into modeling as a child,” she said. “My parents met at the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, so I had a lot of music in my childhood.”

As with many singers, her world changed when Capitol Records released “Meet the Beatles!” in 1964.

“I played that record on my pink record player until I had to buy a brand-new copy, because I wore it out,” Marlin said. “Paul McCartney became my hero. What he did with his writing and emotions got into my soul. It was because of him that I named my latest album ‘Blackbird.’”

She had the good fortune as a teen to work at the legendary Fillmore East performance venue, where she heard performances by Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead and others. Marlin poured herself into writing and performing music, and gave up modeling when she was 20. That was when she moved to Columbia for about a year.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, although I knew I wanted to play music,” she said. “The music community was fantastic and welcomed me in when I arrived.”

Marlin also remembers one popular hangout: “I think I had breakfast at Ernie’s Cafe every day.”

After her successful demo with A&M, she formed a band called Speed Bumps with bass player George Bunnell, an original member of Strawberry Alarm Clock; arranger and guitarist Steve Bartek from The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo; and guitarist James Harrah, who would go on to join a Madonna world tour.

After three years with the band, her music continued to evolve.

“It went from being kind of bluesy-jazzy in Columbia to rock ’n’ roll and then to punk,” she said.

It took another turn when she began to write and perform children’s music. She recorded four children’s albums and performed at the White House Easter concert in 1994. Later, Marlin was a staff writer for Disney Live TV and Sesame Street Live and wrote songs for the Olsen twins’ videos and educational software.

She took a hiatus from music while raising two daughters of her own, but the spark rekindled when she moved to San Francisco in 2010.

“I was immediately introduced to KC Turner, who, interestingly enough, is from Columbia,” Marlin said. “It turned out to be a huge door opening for me to get back into music. I really didn’t expect to come back to it in San Francisco, but KC started getting me some nice gigs. This phase of reviving my music life has been really amazing the last two years. Whatever energy I have put into my music has come back to me.”

With her children grown, she has been able to jump back into music with a passion. She released “Blackbird” to a strong reception in 2014 and is immersed in her next project.

“I sat down last fall and gave myself an assignment to write a set of songs imagining what Woody Guthrie would be commenting on if he were living today — both songs from the heart and things that are going on in the world today,” she said.

Although she hasn’t been back to Columbia, Marlin cherishes those days on the farm and in the clubs.

“I always remember the welcoming spirit of all of the musicians and the way they took care of me,” she said.

Alan Goforth is a freelance writer and editor based in Lee’s Summit and a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Among other books, he is the author of “Tales from the Missouri Tigers” and “He Stood Tall,” which is the story of former Tiger baseball Coach John “Hi” Simmons.

© 2015 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Ovation on Sunday, March 1, 2015 12:00 am.

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Topics: Music, Alan Goforth, Beth Marlin, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, David Anderle, Folk Alliance International, Fillmore East, Ernie's Cafe, Speed Bumps, George Baunnell, Steve Bartek, James Harrah, Olsen Twins, Kc Turner - Columbia Daily Tribune

"No Depression Readers' Poll"

Blackbird voted one of 2014's best albums...#148, in between The Mastersons and Chrissie Hynde - No Depression

"Beth Marlin Q&A"

Thursday, 24 April 2014
Beth Marlin Q&A
Your name:
Beth Marlin.

Where are you from?
Born in New York City but been a Californian for a long time.

Name of band:
Beth Marlin if it's a solo show, Beth Marlin Band if it's with full band.

Who else is in your band?
San Francisco players: guitarist Gary Zellerbach, bassist Carl Herder, drummer/percussionist Scott Wild.
Los Angeles musicians: bassist and my record producer Jon Baker, guitarist James Harrah, composer Tim Heintz (keyboards, harmonium, Mellotron, drums etc.), blues harp man Paul Vallis, violinst Charlie Bisharat.

How would you describe yourself?
Singer/songwriter genre...I write and sing the songs, with a few dollops of folk, rock and roll, country, bluegrass and jazz thrown in there. I would say please give a listen and help me describe myself (Facebook Player page link below).

Who are your main influences musically?
The first album I ever bought was Meet The Beatles and Paul McCartney instantly became my guru...still is. Just saw him at Outside Lands Festival August 2013 and the title of my upcoming release is "Blackbird". I was also an usher at Fillmore East in New York when I was in high school and got to see Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, etc...made me want to write songs.

What do you hope to achieve in music?
In the 90's I was "Bethie", BMG childrens' recording artist. Although that period of my career was hugely successful, today, having recently moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles, I am achieving something important each day. My great joy at having reignited my inner musical self, comes from connectedness. We have a badass singer/songwriter community here in SF, and I'm honored to be on the regular list of artists who are booked by our local king of house concerts, KC Turner. He's awesome. So my answer is, I'm pretty happy with where I'm at this very minute.

What has been the highlight of your career so far, and why?
Most dramatic gig I ever had was my Easter children's show at the White House in '94. They flew me and my family to DC and we were invited into Hilary Clinton's salon for a chat. These days, doing gratis shows for Bread and Roses, a local org that brings live music to places where folks can't get out, continues to be a highlight. Beth Marlin Band at the 2013 Yerba Buena Night Festival in San Francisco, was also pretty swell. Rumor has it, we're being asked back this year.

And what's the moment you want to forget?
First open mic ever, in Scottsdale, Arizona, where my body and my mind froze up at the same moment and I was unable to remember the song I had been executing perfectly, every day for months.

If you had to pick just one of your songs to represent your music, what would it be and why?
A track from my upcoming album. The song is called "I'm A Stranger" and refers to way I feel when I go back home to New York City. I'd like to change that pattern.

Where can we listen to it?

Sell music on itunes at

Where can we find out more about your music?
Please "like" my Beth Marlin Facebook artist page which lets me know who's out there...I'm a fan of connectedness via social media.
Soundcloud has a lot of songs from 2 of my kids' albums, Sam The Snake (winner of Parents' Choice Gold) and Tied Together With Love (Parents' Choice Silver):
Beth Marlin Youtube at Holy Folk:
Buy last album, Let Me In on CD Baby:
Check out Bread and Roses, and donate if you can! Thanks.

Anything else you'd like to say that I forgot to ask?
I suppose I should say that I play many instruments as well as singing lead vocals...acoustic and electric guitar, soprano and baritone ukulele, banjo-uke, accordion, and miniature toy piano. Cheers and thanks for the Q&A! Blackbird is on its way, Spring 2014 release.
Posted by RealSoundsOK at 11:48 - Real Sounds OK


 1990 Sam The Snake (Parents Choice Gold Award), 1991 Tied Together With Love (Silver), 1992 Bethie's Really Silly Songs About Animals (BMG), 1993 Bethie's Really Silly Songs About Numbers (BMG), 1993 Bethie's Really Silly Clubhouse (movie, BMG),  2007 Let Me In (singer/songwriter, independent), 2014 Blackbird (spring release)



In the 90's Beth Marlin was known a "Bethie", BMG recording artist for kids.  She has won numerous awards for her albums, including Parents' Choice gold and silver.  Favorite gig of all time...her White House performance,  Easter '94.  Writing credits include Disney TV, Sesame Street Live, Olsen Twins video, and the music for the best selling educational software, Knowledge Adventure's Jumpstart Pre-School and Pre-K.  Beth is releasing her 7th album of original songs for adults in the folk/country genre Summer 2016, called, RAILROAD.  She lives in San Francisco, and is being booked by local promoter, KC Turner and New Leaf Talent.  From festivals such as San Francisco's Yerba Buena Night and Bazaar Stock, to small clubs, Beth is performing all over the Bay Area as a solo artist or with her band. Touring is happening as well.

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