Crowdfunding Campaigns of the Week: The Fringes of Roots with Tori Amos and Gogol Bordello
As we approach the 2017 Americana Music Festival, so also do we approach the inevitable question that arises; What is Americana? As the Americana tent gets bigger some embrace the changes, welcoming any inherently organic musical style that keeps tradition alive in new ways, while others decry the changes, wishing for a return to the “roots” of roots music. I hadn’t intended this week’s edition of Crowdfunding Campaigns of the Week to be themed but, as I do every week, I browsed new crowdfunding campaigns this week and asked “is this roots enough to qualify?” As I did, I decided it would be a good week to tackle that “what is Americana?” question with two campaigns from the fringes of the roots music world.
Tori Amos is an artist who, in a different week, I might have decided wasn’t quite “roots” enough for the roots music column. But Amos could be a poster child for the question posed this week. Typically labeled in the “alternative” section, a genre even less well defined than Americana, Amos exhibits a lot of the traits that Americana fans gravitate toward; thoughtful lyrics, mostly organic instrumentation, and an authenticity that can’t be faked. So it’s no surprise that in my travels around the Americana community, I’ve met a lot of Tori Amos fans. Amos’ new album is Native Insider. Inspired by a 2016 road trip through the Smoky Mountains, where Amos’ mother’s family was from, as well as the fallout from the 2016 election and her mother’s stroke, Native Insider looks to be a true alt-folk protest album with Tori Amos’ unique spin. Backer rewards include signed copies of the album of CD or vinyl, a vintage piano key, a Tori Amos beanie, and a copy of the tour book.
Like Tori Amos, Gogol Bordello is an act that I might have skipped as “not roots enough” in a normal week. But there has always been a strong link between Americana and punk music, especially punk that dabbles in roots music. Gogol Bordello is the first, and only major, purveyor of “Gypsy Punk”, melding the high energy of a punk rock shows with the traditional instrumentation and styles of gypsy music. The result should not work; but it does. The band’s party-like atmosphere and rousing sing-alongs meld well with the fiddles and accordions and their shows have quickly gained a reputation as the place to be. Gogol Bordello is readying the release of their new album Seekers & Finders. In this case, it’s not a traditional PledgeMusic campaign with tons of extras, but just a pre-order. So there are no backer rewards on this one, but fans can choose the album in CD as well as black and blue vinyl options.