ARTIST BIO

Ira Marlowe's songs have been described as "four-minute movies", known for a rare combination of lyrical wit and emotional impact. Marlowe grew up listening to his parents' jazz and show tunes, begged for guitar lessons at eight, finally got them at thirteen, experienced a high school conversion from folkie to rocker, and at nineteen started penning songs that sounded somewhere between Daltrey and Townsend and Lerner and Loew.  While the label "folk-rock" is useful as a ballpark description, Marlowe's writing swings from funny to sad to poignant to political--often within a single song.  His range as a songwriter and the sheer entertainment value of his shows make him a delight to audiences wherever he goes.

He's won numerous awards, including the SF Weekly "Best of the Bay" song contest, the Napa Valley Music Festival, plus a half-dozen Northern California Songwriters Association competitions.  In 2004 his song “The Wish” was selected for the Songs Inspired by Literature CD and appears alongside songs by Tom Waits, David Bowie, Steve  Earle, Roseanne Cash and other people more famous than him.

In 2005, burnt out after a series of fizzled major-label deals, he was performing in a San francisco cafe when he was approached by the director of The Learning Company, the world's largest producer of education software for kids.  Hired on the spot to write a series of songs their new release, Marlowe took an anything-goes approach to his task and started having FUN again.  He soon his own kids' music label, BRAINY TUNES--"Smarter Songs for Smarter Kids".  In the past five years he released six CDs, won the coveted Parents' Choice and Mr. Dad Awards, and sold thousands of units, mostly to schools and libraries.  But though he loves writing kids' music and usually enjoys performing for children, he never felt at home with the smiley, squeakly-clean persona required for the job. Having recently teamed with a partner to handle to business aspects of BRAINY TUNES, Marlowe has returned headlong to writing and performing for those big kids known as adults.

In June of 2012, Marlowe opened The Monkey House, a cozy nest for thoughtful performers of all stripes: singer/songwriters, storytellers, comics, magicians and more.  Seating about fifty--with lights, sound system, stage, and black velvet curtain--it will soon be home to an effort several years in the making, “Tales from Varley Mansion”, a spooky stage show for kids.  Stay tuned.

When Marlowe was fourteen, his father scoffed at his plans for a career in music.  “Son,” he cautioned, “many are called, but few are chosen.”  Now, after twenty-odd years in the music business, after strolling with his guitar between the tables of a Howard Johnson’s, after singing at a circumcision, after being spit at by a spoiled-rotten four-year-old, he’s finds -- to his great surprise -- that he's more excited than ever about music.  These days he’s no longer that concerned about being chosen.  He knows he's lucky to still feel called.

 Listen to the music and you might understand.


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