Mary Crowell's second solo album, Acolytes of the Machine & Other Gaming Stories, is an unabashed love letter to the hobby of playing Dungeons & Dragons created by a singer/songwriter and folk/jazz piano composer who plays a Bard in Real Life.
Produced and engineered by Jeff Bohnhoff at Mystic Fig Studios
Arrangements by Mary Crowell and Jeff Bohnhoff
Vocal arrangement on M is for Magic Missile by Jeff Bohnhoff, Michelle "Vixy" Dockrey and Maya Bohnhoff
Album art by Starr Weems
Album layout design by Misty Granade
Here are what some people say about the music of Mary Crowell:
Sherman Dorn reports "When Mary Crowell appeared at her first filk convention, she hit the scene like a .44 shell going through the last reel of a Dirty Harry movie. The South hasn't been the same since. Chord progressions drip from her fingers like molasses oozing off the bottom of a spoon, unless her voice is driving a torch song in almost precisely the incredible way that Tori Amos's voice can't. Just make sure not to let her sing on Hyde Street in the City: the cable car will fall over just from hearing her voice. And make sure the hotel staff has a mop to clean up the drool from the audience: If Mary had lived in the heyday of film noir, Mary Astor would have been standing jobless on a streetcorner wondering why she never got any breaks."
Cat Faber writes: Rumors that Mary Crowell is the natural child of the Angel Gabriel and a well-known jazz musician have been thoroughly investigated, and found to have no basis in fact. "I have no comment" the Archangel is reported to have said when questioned on the subject, "except that we are all, of course, very proud of Mary." But her velvet voice and swinging keyboard style point unerringly toward her origins, in spite of her mysterious smile and steadfast silence on the question...
Rob Wynne wrote in his bio of Mary Crowell for Concertino 2006: Mary is a prolific songwriter, and has tackled a range of subjects in her music. She has extolled the virtues of Legolas and the sensuous charms of Jessica Rabbit. She has managed to explain through song topics as esoteric as the Doctrine of Ethos, or the rules governing targets of opportunity in third edition AD&D. Of course, it’s the torch songs that she’s known for, and she manages to infuse even the most innocuous subjects, such as, say, an advertisement for a local alchemist in her gaming campaign, with a sultry undercurrent that will seduce the unwary and ensnare their senses.
Brenda Sutton reminisced in her bio of Mary Crowell for Balticon 2009: I first met Mary in 2001 when some good gaming buddies of hers dragged her off to GAFilk. She'd been making up a few songs about their D&D characters' antics, and they knew that the folks at GAFilk we're going to love Mary's music. We watched this beautiful young woman lug her keyboard (not the most portable of filk instruments, mind you) into the filk room with a slight amount of dread and a large measure of anticipation. And then she played her opening measures -- all Gershwiny, bluesy, and fine -- we all relaxed. This was going to be an expertly arranged piece of music. And then she sang. Oh my stars and little purple comets, she sang! -- with a sultry, southern voice that made most of the men in the room melt into puddles on the ballroom floor. And what she sang -- challenging lyrics with internal structure, plot, and daring wit. Mary's first fore into filk was an unmitigated success. We fell in love with her and her charming Dungeon Master/pediatrician/masterchef husband, Dr. Wesley Crowell. (We met their precocious, creative son, Simon, later in the year, and fell in love with him, too. Simon has been the inspiration for many of Mary's songs, and shares a co-writing credit for Get Down Mama.)