Crowdfunding Campaigns of the Week: Arlen Roth, Melissa Etheridge, and McCrary Sisters
The internet has changed the music business in a way not seen since the invention of vinyl. From mp3 downloads to streaming, users are increasingly turning to the web as a way to consume music. Unfortunately, many of these online models don’t provide full compensation for artists’ work, leading to a more risk-averse label system and a harder go for the independent artist. But the internet also provides help for those problems with crowdfunding sites. Every year both independent and established artists looking for a way to pay for projects or just some additional revenue streams through incentives turn to sites like Kickstarter and PledgeMusic to get support directly from their fans. Each week, I will wade through the literal hundreds of crowdfunding campaigns to bring you some of the most interesting roots-based ones going. This week’s offering includes a musical trip to Memphis by a Platinum selling artist, an album and documentary about one of music’s most iconic guitar brands, and a resurface of a soon to close project from one of Americana’s most prolific collaborators.
Most people know Grammy winning singer Melissa Etheridge for her signature raspy vocals and bluesy Top 40 compositions like “Bring Me Some Water” and “Come to My Window.” But Etheridge’s new album, entitled MEmphis Rock and Soul, is not filled with new compositions from the songwriter but a tribute to the music of Memphis’ legendary Stax Records, who will also be releasing the album. Etheridge will provide her own take on iconic songs by the likes of Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, and Albert King. Backer rewards include signed vinyl copies of the album, a signed limited edition screenprint poster, and a guitar or songwriting lesson from Etheridge.
There are dozens of guitar manufacturers and models floating around the music world, but only a few with names that immediately generate memories of a tone or style. One of those is the Fender Telecaster. The Telecaster has been used by artists from every genre through the years by some of music’s most beloved six string heroes. Now, renowned sideman Arlen Roth, who has worked with the likes of John Prine, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon, is delving into the history of the Telecaster with an album and documentary film primarily recorded in Nashville, Los Angeles, and Austin called Telemasters. Among the Telemasters working with Roth on this film are Vince Gill, Steve Cropper, and Brad Paisley. Backer rewards include a private guitar lesson via Skype from Roth, pickguards signed by some of the album’s artists, and a telecaster guitar signed by all of the artists in the Nashville session.
I featured The McCrary Sisters’ campaign to record a new live album a few weeks ago in this space and am resurfacing it one more time for two reasons. First, because the campaign closes in just a few days so time to get on board is limited. Second, because The McCrary Sisters are some of the most important people in Americana today. You may or may not know the band, but their voices will be immediately recognizable to most roots music lovers through their output backing up artists like Buddy Miller, Paul Thorn, and Bob Dylan. The Sisters will record two shows at Nashville’s 3rd and Lindsley on August 10 for release as a live album in 2017. Backer rewards include an Honorary McCrary hat, a copy of the sisters’ Cooking With Love cookbook, and even a chance to have The McCrary Sisters show off their home cooking skills for you and a guest.