If there is such a thing as the “offseason” for touring, winter tends to be it. While there are plenty of bands still gigging for those looking for a musical fix, others are using the colder weather to take a break from the road before the festivals and amphitheaters reopen for the year. And that means a tick up in crowdfunding campaigns to fund the recording or set pre-orders for the album. Each week, I will bring you some of the best new roots-oriented crowdfunding campaigns worthy of a second look.
Timothy Showalter, the Philadelphia resident who is the heart of Strand of Oaks, has seen his share of adversity. From personal tragedy to professional hurdles, Showalter has weathered the storm like any good songwriter would, by putting it into his lyrics. Strand of Oaks’ sound walks the line between folk and electric blues-rock, but is always worth checking out. Their new album, Hard Love, will be released on Feb. 17 and is the band’s first in three years. Backer rewards include the album on CD, cassette, and both regular and limited edition colored vinyl. You can also get Strand of Oaks’ previous two albums on CD and LP as well.
While I try to stay on top of the flood of crowdfunding releases to ensure you get the latest, even I can’t see or sample everything. So, taking example from Ringo Starr, sometimes I get by with a little help from my friends. In this case, the friend is fellow No Depression writer Amos Perrine, who turned me on to The Company Stores, a young band from his neck of the woods in West Virginia. Formed in 2012, The Company Stores are a textbook example of why Americana’s “big tent” philosophy is a good one. Melding folk, bluegrass, rock, and a dash of hip-hop, the combo is a unique sound all their own. The Company Stores are currently in the studio working on their newest release, Little Lights. They have already passed their extremely modest $8,500 Kickstarter goal, but with production costs what they currently are, any extra would certainly help. Backer premiums include early access to the new album, tickets to their album release party in Charleston, and a chance to spend a weekend with the band on tour.
I was a late comer to The Steel Wheels’ music. I’d heard the name at various Americana events over the years, but the genre seems to have an obsession with both metal and car parts as band names, so they tended to get lost in the mix. Fortunately, that was rectified when they played a short but impressive set of songs at the 2016 Americana Music Festival at the Wild Ponies Happy Hour. Now The Steel Wheels are working on what they call their “most ambitious album” of their careers, Wild as We Came Here. And like many young artists, they have taken to PledgeMusic to offer a pre-order sale with extras. Examples of the extras on offer include a chance to join the band as they rehearse and shoot a music video, two tickets to their album release show in Charlottesville, and passes to the Red Wing Roots Music Festival.