Combining boundless creative imagination with a deep reverence for American folk, blues and country music, Marisa Anderson’s guitar playing is fluid, emotional, dexterous and original. National Public Radio says Anderson’s playing “exposes and hides the mysteries of American music”. Pitchfork calls her recent record, ‘Mercury’, ”Brilliant” and Wire Magazine says, “Her sound has strength in restless variety…Anderson’s playing is heartfelt and utterly American, free from grandstanding and steeped in respect for the old tradition.”
Recording primarily on the Mississippi Records label, Anderson’s work features improvisations and compositions inspired by Delta blues, West African guitar, Appalachian mountain music, vintage country and western, gospel, noise, rhythm, cycles, mortality, and praise. In performance, Anderson channels the history of the guitar and stretches the boundaries of tradition.
Before landing in Portland in the late nineties, Anderson dropped out of college at age nineteen to walk across the United States and didn’t stop traveling for fifteen years. Her music is a direct result of this peripatetic existence, reflecting years of living in cars, tents and buses, traveling to Mexico with a circus, walking, hitchhiking and always playing guitar.
In the past two years, Anderson’s music has landed her festival appearances in Europe and the United States and opening slots for artists including Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Devil Makes 3 and Sharon Van Etten. Her collaborations with filmmaker Jodi Darby have shown in galleries and film festivals throughout the US. Anderson can occasionally be found accompanying Beth Ditto’s acoustic performances.
Anderson’s music has been featured on soundtracks including ‘Smokin’ Fish’, ‘For the Love of Dolly’, ‘Girls Rock’, and ‘Gift To Winter’. Recent festival appearances include Le Guess Who, Festival of Endless Gratitude, Creative Music Guild Improvisation Summit, Portland Experimental Film Festival, Sound & Music Festival, NOFest, Electrogals, Festival of Endless Gratitude, and PICA’s TBA Festival. Her writings on music and activism have appeared in Bitch Magazine, Leaf Litter, and in Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, the book.
In August 2013, KBOO Community Radio released a split 7″ featuring Anderson and Elizabeth Cotten. She was KBOO’s 2013 Artist in Residence and in 2012 Anderson was one of six artists selected for Signal Fire’s Afloat Residency. Anderson’s debut solo recording ‘Holiday Motel’ was a 2006 Outmusic nominee for Best Female Debut Recording. Anderson spent 2003-2011 working at the Rock’n’Roll Camp for Girls in Portland.