'He paints with Words'
I have heard Marra twice at the Mugdock theatre, which with the grand piano off to the left is simply the perfect venue for him, and I list his concerts there as some of my favourite ever small venue gigs. The first thing that I noticed at his gigs was how frail he looked, but then when he performed he surprised me with this deep gravelly voice.
With endearing heart and ironic dry wit Marra led us through his medley of songs which were brim full of unforgettable characters and carefully crafted images of places and time. Oddly he props his keyboards on top of a small ironing board. He has a strong character for photos with his humour and expressive eyes.
In March the Milngavie Fraser centre was packed for his gig for the Milngavie Folk Club.
Marra played piano and guitar during his set here and he sang songs with grand titles such as - 'If Dundee was Africa', 'Bob Dylan's Visit to Embra', 'Grace Kelly's Visit to Dundee,' 'Muggie Shaw', 'Freda Kohl's Visit to the Tay Bridge Bar', and 'Lonesome Death of Francis Clarke'. In 'Schenectady Calling', Marra paid tribute to Peerie Willie Johnson, a noted folk musician from Shetland. He finished his set with a Burns song ' Green Grow the Rashes O' and an encore song 'Mary Skeffington' by the late Gerry Rafferty of
Marra's songs often mix Scottish places with a fantasy of American celebrity. He writes songs about such diverse topics as football, ladies choirs, and American idols! At times his stories and songs are highly amusing, while other songs are thoughtful and touching. He derives his musical influences from the likes of Tom Waits, Randy Newman and Bob Dylan. His music has grown out of both his Dundee Scottish roots and his American musical tastes, and he calls his sound 'groovy traditional music.'
Although predominantly known as a songwriter, Marra has worked extensively in theatre, radio and television. Marra's children, Alice Marra Clark and Matthew Marra, are are members of The Hazy Janes. Marra was in a band called Skeets Boliver in the late seventies.
'There's Love in this world for everyone, Every precious smile you make, Be sure love is out there looking for you.' Michael Marra