Musical adventuress to give concert in Port Townsend

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — When Rebecca “Bex” Marshall was an 11-year-old girl, she was handed a Hummingbird.

This was a 1963 Gibson Hummingbird guitar, a gift from a man who was and is her inspiration.

He's her uncle David Kiely — an entertainer who is still making music today — who has an unforgettable voice.

When he sang, “my hair would fly back,” said Marshall.

She hopes to likewise blow listeners away this week on her first trip to the Pacific Northwest.

A blues singer originally from Devonshire, England, Marshall lives in London now. She's touring in the wake of “House of Mercy,” the follow-up to her 2008 CD “Kitchen Table,” and will arrive, band in tow, for an Upstage Presents concert Wednesday at the Highway Twenty Roadhouse. Show time is 7:30 p.m. at the bar and restaurant at 2152 W. Sims Way, and tickets are $7 via 360-385-2216. That's the old Upstage Theater and Restaurant number, while Upstage owner Mark Cole continues his efforts to reopen his music venue somewhere new.

Tickets will be available at the Roadhouse door, where there's “plenty of room,” Cole promised, adding that dinner is available there too. For directions to the venue, phone 360-385-7747.

It's ironic that this will be Marshall's first foray to the upper corner of the continent. The singer, who's been described as a musical adventuress and tireless traveler, took off at age 18 to hitchhike around Australia, guitar on her back. To earn a living, she trained as a croupier, working the gaming tables on cruise liners.

She also busked on the streets in Australia, “bumming around
. . . until I realized I needed to start bumming around professionally,” she quipped in an interview this week.

“I've never looked back,” added Marshall, who's been a full-time blueswoman for 12 years now. On this tour, she's traveling through Colorado, Oklahoma and South Dakota, then west to Port Townsend, to Cozmic Pizza in Eugene, Ore., and to the Spar in Tacoma.

Then, U.S. jaunt done, she'll go to Brazil for a month.

Marshall is feeling especially good right now, having won two British Blues Awards: first runner-up for Best Female Vocalist and third place in the Album of the Year category for “House of Mercy.”

To hear Marshall tell it, yet, making music is the richest reward.

“I caught the passion very early,” she said. As a girl, it was listening to the blues, on records and live, that gave her the education she wanted.

“I'm still being inspired today. There is never a day,” she said, “when I don't learn something about music from musicians on the road, and not necessarily from someone famous.”

This Wednesday at the Highway Twenty Roadhouse, “Come early,” she instructed, “and be ready to have your heart ripped out and put back in again. In the mostest possible way.”

Then, as if to soften a little, Marshall added that she hopes to “tell some stories.”

She's sought to do that ever since her uncle gave her that Hummingbird. The instrument, now 50 years old, adorns a wall in her home.

Last modified: September 01. 2013 6:12PM
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