Friday, October 11, 2013

Artist Interview: Ira Marlowe and the Mortimus Greely Haunting School

East Bay songwriter Ira Marlowe is one of the more prolific of the Bay Area's creative geniuses.  Writing songs for both adults (Save The Day) and children (The Chills: Creepy Songs for Courageous Kids, The Teasing Bird), he's won oodles of awards (SF Weekly's "Best of the Bay" song contest, the Napa Valley Music Festival) and garnered the praise of the press. Plus he runs one of the best local places to hear original songwriters, The Monkey House. Now, he's bringing us Mortimus Greely's Haunting School, a multi-media event featuring songs, games, interactive video, a 'calcium-rich anatomy lesson' and more. If you want to elevate this Halloween above pumpkin carving and candy corn get yourself to The Monkey House, starting this weekend, Oct. 12, 2013, when the show opens. 
While Ira is likely (hopefully?) writing a book on how to keep one's muse productive, he did share a little information about what led to his latest project. 
Q: Who or what inspired the Haunting School?
IM:  Oddly enough it was inspired by a spooky kids song I wrote with that title.  In the song, kids get to participate by imitating the scary sounds I make.  It was always such a hit that I thought it could be the template for a whole multimedia stage show.

Q: Tell us about Mortimus Greely.
IM: Mortimus is an erudite old ghoul, very refined and a touch British,  He's appalled that kids today spend so much time playing video games and he's here to teach them the finer points of the "dark dimension" he inhabits.  He has a bit of a sad story, which he reveals in the end.

Q You write for kids and adults — do you know if its going to be one way or another from the outset? Which leads us to your writing process: Do you sit down with an intended song or song subject in mind, or are you a wait-for-the-muse type?
IM:  With the kids songs, I tend to "write on assignment."  I have two CDs of spooky songs and I will deliberately say, "OK, I need a mummy song."  Or a werewolf song.  Sometimes I look at classic films.  That's where I got "Has Anybody Heard About the Blob?" and "The Boy with Two Heads."  But it's funny, I have more than a few songs that I wrote for kids which I regularly include in my adult shows.  They always go over great. 

Q Who are some of your favorite artists/mentors/heroes, living or ... haunting!? 
IM: Ha! At this point I'd say my role model is Shel Sliverstein, who worked in several different media and wrote both serious and funny stuff, for both adults and kids.  But I always loved any songwriter who wrote colorful, narrative songs that blurred the line between adult and kids music — The Beatles ("The Continuing Adventures of Bungalow Bill", many more...), Paul Simon ("At the Zoo"), even David Bowie, with his early songs like "Kooks."

Mortimus Greely's HAUNTING SCHOOLThis interactive performance involves a roomful of kids, a handful of ghosts, and one ghoulish (yet kindly) instructor, runs about 60 minutes and is best for kids 7-12.  Tickets are only $10 via Brown Paper Tickets:  Opening day (10/12) tickets are only $5, but must be purchased at the door to receive this half-price discount.  October 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27  Doors 2:45, Show @ 3Halloween show:  Doors 4:45, Show at 5Final show! November 1, 8PM Followed by the Monkey House Halloween Party!!! Reserve your seats at

More about Ira: Buy Ira's recordings @ The Monkey House or via Cdbaby

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