Mary Crowell | Acolytes of the Machine & Other Gaming Stories

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United States - Alabama

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Folk: Folk-Jazz Jazz: Jazz Vocals Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Acolytes of the Machine & Other Gaming Stories

by Mary Crowell

A rich, humorous, gorgeous love letter to Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, gamers, and the Hobby itself!
Genre: Folk: Folk-Jazz
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Massacre Anne
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4:15 $1.00
2. Devil of Stories
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3:17 $1.00
3. City of Doors
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3:30 $1.00
4. A Balleto for Rupus
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4:17 $1.00
5. I Put My Low Stat
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4:18 $1.00
6. Just Dessert
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4:03 $1.00
7. Acolytes of the Machine
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5:00 $1.00
8. Opportunity Tango
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3:47 $1.00
9. Pretty Little Ladies
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3:19 $1.00
10. Oh Milo
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4:11 $1.00
11. Pas De Deux
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3:55 $1.00
12. Shifty Screavy
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7:01 $1.00
13. M Is for Magic Missile
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5:04 $1.00
14. Post-Apocalyptic Blues
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3:56 $1.00
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
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.)


Reviews


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Jeri Lynn

Lovely and fun music
This CD is full of fabulous music that also happens to be geeky and full of gaming references! Some of the songs make more sense if you have read the background notes (mostly found on Mary's blog), but they are all enjoyable and I keep finding the songs firmly stuck in my head. There is a nice variety of styles from the lush strings in Acolyte of the Machine (my favorite!) to smooth jazz sound of Oh Milo and the dreamlike quality of Pas De Duex: The Dance of Moxy and Matthias III. I'm really glad I bought this CD!

Cat Faber

Flippant, irreverent, eerie fun.
Mary Crowell's latest album is fourteen songs inspired by D&D but with an emphasis on story that makes most of them accessible to a much wider audience. Mary, whether on vocals, keyboards or clarinet, is the main performer, but the cast is filled out by Jeff Bohnhoff on guitar and bass, Sunnie Larsen and Amy McNally on violin, Betsey Tinney on cello, Chris French on saxophone, Kevin Kono on trumpet and Maya Bohnhoff, Michelle Dockrey, Kristoph Klover, Teresa Powell and Brenda Sutton on vocals.

Mary's voice moves through these stories like an actor or a dancer, smooth and flexible, moving from mocking to sultry as the situation demands; a rogue of a thousand faces. Her keyboard is alternately flippant, ominous, or cool and reserved as a music box playing in an empty house. On "City of Doors" in particular (one of my favorites) it reminds me of Robin Hood, stealing the scene only to hand it back to the electric guitar with a flourish and bow.

Some of the songs are specifically about the mechanics of the game, like "Opportunity Tango" or, to a lesser extent "I Put My Low Stat" and will amuse D&D players but may be less interesting people who aren't into that. Others simply tell stories ("Shifty Screavy"), or describe places ("City of Doors") or people ("A Balleto for Rupus"); that those stories, places or people began in D&D campaigns makes no difference to the song. The stories, places and people often are a bit eerie, and occasionally contain elements of horror ("Post-Apocalyptic Blues" in which the world is full of zombies, pops to mind) but have an overall air of flippancy that tends to disarm these tropes.

This is an album that repays repeated listening, full of little gems like the violin that has its own opinion on the quality of were-rat cookery, and the background vocalist going to town on the last descant on "M is for Magic Missile." I recommend it whole-heartedly, to gamers and non-gamers alike.