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.”
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.
Anderson has toured throughout Europe and the United States and opened for artists including Sharon Van Etten, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and The Devil Makes 3. She accompanies Beth Ditto’s solo acoustic performances and provides guitar work for many recordings including Sharon Van Etten’s ‘Are We There?’
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.
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 One Man Band Fest, 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. Her collaborations with filmmaker Jodi Darby have shown in galleries and film festivals throughout the US.
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.