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1 or 2 — Episode 44: Marshall Brown

Tip jar for Marshall Brown

Silliness as a salve for weightier emotions isn’t a new musical trick, but Marshall Brown pulls it off as well as anybody in South Carolina.

The Columbia guitar ace — you may well have seen him steal the show during a guest appearance with your favorite local band — lets his emotions be known as a songwriter. But he decorates them with psychedelic weirdness, and singing littered with plentiful yelps and melismas.

And so it is with “Red Flags,” the cut from his recently released “In the Mirror” EP that he strips back for this week’s “1 or 2” session.

“I’m feeling like you’re lying / Scheming and conspiring,” he confesses. “My mental health is sliding / But I’m falling in love anyways.”

The recorded version’s lysergic expansion of Roy Orbison-esque ’50s rock is communicated surprisingly well by Brown’s dynamic vocal in this acoustic rendition, highlighting a little more starkly the way the song reaches for wacky musicality as a balm for bruised feelings.

The happily trippy assemblage of “Virginia Scotchie’s Class Sculptures,” permanently installed outside the University of South Carolina’s McMaster School of Visual Art & Design, serves as a fitting backdrop, its diversely rendered blossoms lending an additional touch of brightness to fight back the song’s darker thoughts.

The "1 or 2" socially distanced performance series was started to connect Columbians with local artists during COVID-19 and to give those artists a chance to get a paycheck when such opportunities have become more rare. Free Times remains grateful to our partners in this endeavor — One Columbia, Richland Library and SceneSC — for helping us keep it going.

To check out more 1 or 2 videos, all of which are freely accessible without an online subscription, head to


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