Crowdfunding Campaigns of the Week: Robert Plant, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Kari Arnett
As I write this week’s column, we’re a few hours away from the 2018 Grammy Awards, and already we’ve seen the inevitable flood of articles writing the obituary for guitar-driven music as pop and hip hop dominate the awards season. But one look at the crowdfunding sites shows that, while the little gold statues may not go to guitar music anymore, it’s a genre that is very much alive and being supported where it counts; financially. This week’s batch of campaigns are a mixed bag. I have a DVD release from one of rock’s most recognizable voices, Robert Plant, a new album from the always fun genre-breakers Squirrel Nut Zippers, and a campaign from an Americana artist releasing her debut LP, Kari Arnett.
It would be hard to find a vocalist more distinctive and influential than Robert Plant. It would also be hard to find an artist more dedicated to independently spirited artists than David Byrne. So Plant, with his new rock/Americana hybrid band The Sensational Space Shifters, made sense for the 2016 edition of David Byrne’s Festival of Disruption. The show, which mixed songs from the Space Shifters’ album Lullaby and… the Ceaseless Roar with reworked Led Zeppelin classics like “Black Dog” and “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.” The DVD releases Feb. 6.
Frontman Jimbo Mathus and company came to prominence with Squirrel Nut Zippers during the brief “swing revival” that saw them, along with artists like Brian Setzer Orchestra and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, getting significant radio airplay. But Squirrel Nut Zippers was never truly a group dedicated to swing revival. Rather, the genre happened to be breaking at the time and they fit as well into it as they did the dozen or so others they touch on with their music. Call them jazz, rock, punk, Americana, or swing, the Squirrel Nut Zippers proper genre designation is “fun.” After reforming the band in 2016 with drummer Chris Phillips and a new group of instrumentalists from New Orleans, Mathus has found inspiration in the Crescent City for the band’s new album Beasts of Burgundy, their first in sixteen years. Backer rewards include the album on CD and Vinyl, a SNZ prayer candle, and hand written lyric sheets.
Minneapolis-based artist Kari Arnett has been attracting attention since her debut EP, Midwestern Skyline, in 2015. Since that time, she has toured the country and had the opportunity to play shows with artists like Paul Thorn, Frazey Ford, and Kaleo. Now Arnett is readying her debut LP, titled When the Dust Settles, and is raising funds for it through a Kickstarter campaign. Backer rewards include the album digitally or on CD, a photo op package, songwriting lessons, and a house concert.