Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer Conquer Cancer and Filmmaking with ‘All Wigged Out’

There is hardly a sphere of the music industry that musicians and community builders Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer have not conquered, from bluegrass and folk music to children’s music and the Grammys. Now, these multi-hyphenate musical polymaths have set their sights on a new medium through which they can create, storytell, and connect with audiences: film. 

All Wigged Out is a documentary musical film that tells the story of Marxer’s journey through breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. The film, which will be available on demand May 16 on Amazon, Google, and many more, utilizes musical mastery, eclectic wit, storytelling, and comedy to share the poignant, bittersweet, hopeful, and downright zany tale spun together from Marxer’s unique perspective, writing style, and multi-instrumental approach. On April 28, an album of the catchy, hilarious, and touching songs from the musical – entitled, All Wigged Out: Songs from the Musical – will be available wherever you download and stream music. (Pre-order on Bandcamp). Watch a trailer for the film:

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“[All Wigged Out] is a way to entertain people, but educate at the same time – educate patients and caregivers,” Marxer explains via phone. “Not educating in a condescending way, but there were just so many things that I could not expect, that I didn’t know how to deal with. This is just a way of sharing my experiences – which is just one experience – and help folks to live life one day at a time, doing your best with what you’ve been given to make decisions and move forward. And the next day, when everything changes, you still just make the best decisions that you can at that moment. Then you can live life with no regrets.”

“And don’t lose your sense of humor!” Cathy adds from the background – they both laugh.

Over the course of their widely variable careers, Fink and Marxer have certainly never lost their senses of humor – cancer or not. Together and separately, their careers have exceeded four decades in folk music, old-time, bluegrass, children’s music, and so many other realms of the entertainment industry. It comes as no surprise, that despite not having any prior experience writing, producing, and staging a musical documentary film, that they were able to leverage their personal and professional communities, teach themselves these often punishing skill sets with steep learning curves, and put together a film that’s musically engaging, humorous, joyful, and actually says something. All at a markedly clean-and-crisp, professional level.

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All Wigged Out also shines a spotlight on Cathy & Marcy’s relationship, the way they rely and depend on each other not only in their musical careers, but also in their personal lives. They demonstrate, through this film and in all their efforts, that their penchant for community and community building starts at home. They’re committed leaders, mentors, and friends to all in the roots music industry and beyond, so it feels absolutely grounded and genuine to see them both expand their vision for community to include cancer support groups, associations, and all kinds of organizations with missions of supporting and uplifting folks who have had cancer touch their lives. 

With no shortage of laurels and film festival accolades, All Wigged Out is certainly poised to bring Fink & Marxer and their community-minded music to so many new audiences within and outside of the music community, especially with their activist and organizing experience. They’ve taken All Wigged Out to screenings, talk-backs, fundraisers, discussions, and panels, often partnering with Cancer Support Communities and Gilda’s Clubs, as well as making appearances at the NC Museum of Art, Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, American Nurses Association, National Women’s Music Festival, and so many more.

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer Conquer Cancer and Filmmaking with 'All Wigged Out'

This week, in celebration of the film’s release, they’re partnering with Ebeauty on a film screening and panel that features Marxer, her surgeon, and a representative from Ebeauty, which is a non-profit organization that facilitates cancer patients obtaining wigs and other cancer resources. During the event, Marxer will donate the film’s titular wig to Ebeauty, which will use the hair piece to train wig technicians and cosmetologists on wig styling for patients, then the wig will be passed along to another cancer patient facing hair loss as part of Ebeauty’s wig exchange program. This is just one example of the many ways this film and its music can touch folks’ lives and help them on their own journeys back to health and wellness.

Whether teaching ukulele, competing in local fiddler’s conventions, participating in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, or just camped out in a festival parking lot picking, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer lead by example, putting their hearts and souls into everything they make and by doing so, they open a wide, hospitable door to anyone and everyone they meet. The connection, compassion, and poignance of All Wigged Out will make this task even easier, despite its often challenging or bittersweet subject matter. The joy – and the belly laughs – in this film are second only to what we love most about Cathy & Marcy to begin with: their music.

Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg

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