Joe Marson

Joe Marson

 New York City, New York, USA

How to make a Joe Marson

step 1: blend key ingredients on high: the art of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the grace of Jeff Buckley, the soul of Ben Harper and craft of Jimi Hendrix.

step 2: notice how mixture takes the form of a unique, soulful singer/songwriter

step 3: serve at high volume


Putting the perfect stamp on his colorful and infectious Post Cards From Siren City—the name of his eclectic full length debut album—Joe Marson came up with an unforgettable formula to convey his wide range of style and influences.

Step 1: Blend key ingredients on high: the art of Red Hot Chili Peppers, the grace of Jeff Buckley, the soul of Ben Harper and the craft of Jimi Hendrix. Step 2 urges listeners to notice how the mixture takes the form of a unique, soulful singer/songwriter. Step 3 is obvious to anyone in his growing fan base who has seen him perform on his recent East Coast and West Coast tours: Serve at high volume. Combining clever turns of phrase and hard earned wisdom with crisp melodies and lyrical guitar playing, the multi-talented 26 year old New York based performer spins a colorful tale about his solo musical journey.

As he tells it, this was a time of rich exploration which found him playing hip hop in Oregon, jazz with Berklee students in Boston (aka “Siren City”), folk songs in his hometown of San Diego and blue grass and gospel in Arizona before splitting his time between the charming weirdness of Austin and the multi-cultural boroughs of New York City, where he’s headlined at Arlene’s Grocery and The Bitter End, among other hotspots. The narrative prior to that begins pretty innocently, with Marson walking into a music store at age 13 and asking someone nearby to help him learn the chords to “Under the Bridge.” He got the bug, started a rock band in high school (Faking Genius) and harbored the usual dreams of becoming a professional artist and musician.

Behind the “lite version” of Marson’s journey to becoming a powerful up and coming singer-songwriter is an intensely dark six year period—from ages 17 to 23—where he was diagnosed with treatment resistant depression (TRD), a term used in clinical psychiatry to describe cases of major depressive disorder that do not respond to adequate course of at least five anti-depressants. Joe went through thirty.

Marson was living with his aunt and uncle in Tucson, thinking methodically about ways to end his life, when he finally—and miraculously, though he uses the term more scientifically than spiritually—stumbled upon a medication that worked for him. Within a year, he went from living in a veritable stupor (which included six hours a day staring at the TV) to moving back to San Diego and launching his long delayed music career. Prior to that, he was always running and always seeking a cure—a process he chronicles in songs like the title track “Post Cards From Siren City,” about his abruptly quitting the University of Oregon and heading to Boston in hopes of fixing himself.

“I’ll never forget the moment when I knew that something was finally working,” Marson says. “I was driving in the desert near Tucson, and all of a sudden I was looking at the horizon and all these thoughts and ideas about starting a new band and playing music again starting bubbling up inside me. I felt this inner warmth that I hadn't felt in a long time.” Marson captures a sense of this musical salvation in the heartfelt song “Levon (Leave The Band),” whose title was inspired by The Band’s legendary drummer Levon Helm: “Lost, hell, I’ve been lost, but I found the lighthouse/No not the cross, and/Love, well I’ve been loved/The warm embrace of music/has felt like heaven up above.”

Other songs which capture some of the emotions he felt during this time are “Requiem for the Space Invader” (whose title is a pun on the alienation Marson felt from the world during his years in darkness) and “Goddamit Julia,” a lively acoustic tune (and the album’s first single) painting a romanticized version of a relationship he had during his time in Boston.

After spending some time back in his hometown of San Diego, Marson moved to Austin to figure out his musical direction and played a lot of bars before realizing that, contrary to popular belief, the opportunities for original independent artists were limited. Realizing a change of scenery and venues would help propel his career forward, he moved up to Brooklyn late in 2011 and is now thriving like never before.

In addition to several high profile gigs in NYC, he has in recent months booked his own successful tours on the East Coast (playing everywhere from New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington DC, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia) and out West, where a recent jaunt took him to the legendary Lestat’s in San Diego before heading towards Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.

“When I perform live, I have the opportunity to experience my songs in a different way from when I wrote them because of the way I see them communicate with and touching people,” Marson says. “It’s easy to get distracted with the logistics of building a career and practicing music, and forget the simple impact a song can have and the synergy it can create with the audience."


Joe Marson EP
Faking Genius
Post Cards From Siren City
Someday Soon EP

Set List

Post Cards From Siren City
Levon (Leave the Band)
Smile Inside
That Train
Wake Up/Dream
What I'm Sayin
Requiem for the Space Invader
Point of You
White Boy Blues
No One
Satisfied Mind
Song To The Siren
Castles Made Of Sand
Breaking The Girl