The first thing you notice about the musical duo Marianne & The Professor is their name.
Wait, didn’t the professor get top billing in the old “Gilligan’s Island” television series?
Not this time.
“I thought it sounded better than ‘Marianne and Russell Johnson.’ A joke,” says Don Batryn – The Professor – when asked about the source of the band’s name. “Russell Johnson was the actor who portrayed the professor on ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ As for the inversion, well, Marianne deserves top billing.”
Marianne Batryn’s crystalline vocals glide effortlessly through the acoustic duo’s setlist of pop oldies, standards, a dash of country and one-hit wonders from bygone eras. They’ve even been known to do a Broadway number now and then. Their song list includes titles ranging from Patsy Cline to John Prine to The Pretenders.
“Our song selection started out with a group of songs that we really love. Our musical taste is wide and varied. The set list is ever expanding and several songs have been added that were suggested by audience members,” says Marianne. “We’re fond of all the songs we play and favorites can vary from night to night. I do love doing Linda Ronstadt, though. She’s my absolute fave.”
Marianne and Don say their other favorite songwriters are too numerous to list, but include John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Burt Bacharach, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison and Harry Nilsson.
Don has songs he says he wrote “way back when,” and occasionally they perform them, but the duo currently focuses on the music of other songwriters.
“I absolutely revere songwriters and their craft. We have been playing all these wonderful songs from the best professional songwriters of the twentieth century. It’s very intimidating holding up one of your own next to these amazing songs, but who knows? Maybe one day we will,” says Don.
Marianne & The Professor gig in various spots in St. Petersburg and Safety Harbor, and are well known to Gulfport audiences. Scott Linde first booked them to play at Gulfport’s former Mangia Gourmet. Since then, they’ve played other places around town and have a series of dates scheduled at Tutto Bene beginning July 31.
Getting back to gigs hasn’t been easy. Marianne and Don say the pandemic has taken its toll them and other musicians.
“We are fortunate to have a few outdoor venues where diners can be distanced properly. We are grateful to the local venues who reopened and are staying open despite losses in revenue due to the limited distance seating,” says Don. “We’d like to thank all of our fellow music lovers who come out and support us.”
For more information and the group’s event calendar, find Marianne & The Professor on Facebook.