CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Campaigns for Music Without Borders
Noah y Maurizio's Acoustic Nomads (photo by Louise Bichan)
In 2019, Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi released There Is No Other. In addition to being a great album (ND review), it’s also as concise a mission statement for Giddens’ life work as there can be. Throughout her career with The Carolina Chocolate Drops and solo, Giddens has consistently kicked down the wall of “other” thrown up by people who have learned that having someone who doesn’t look like you to blame all your problems on is a great way to convince folks to give you money or power. Music has always been global, but a rise in international touring and technology to facilitate remote collaboration has led to unprecedented multiculturalism in roots music. This week, I’m featuring three projects that cross not only cultural and national borders, but also musical ones, further blurring an increasingly fuzzy line between genres.
Noah y Maurizio’s Acoustic Nomads – The Abominable Stringband Vol. 2 (click here to view campaign)
Breaking barriers is an admirable goal, but if you plan to do it with music, it’s just not going to work if you aren’t having fun. All it takes is watching the video for Noah y Maurizio’s Acoustic Nomads Kickstarter campaign to know these are people committed to having a great time. The band members’ musical backgrounds span jazz, bluegrass, Celtic, South American, and classical music, and their songs don’t so much cross those borders as attack the lines with a giant eraser. It’s no surprise they list as a major influence Silkroad Ensemble, who recently appointed Rhiannon Giddens artistic director. The band’s modest $12,000 funding goal is supported by a number of backer perks. There are multiple ways to get the music, including a downloadable single, a digital album, and CD versions of this album and their previous two. You can also get a one-hour virtual lesson from the band member of your choice, a listening party with anecdotes about the album’s creation, and a chance for bassist Noah Harrington to cook you dinner.
PUBLIQuartet – What Is American? (click here to view campaign)
With an album title like What Is American?, there isn’t much doubt about the album’s theme. PUBLIQuartet is a New York-based string quartet that has become known for its innovative, and often highly improvised, interpretations of songs from across the genre spectrum. This album, in particular, is being marketed as a love letter to Black composers. There are interpretations of songs by Fats Waller, Tina Turner, Ornette Coleman, and even Rhiannon Giddens (there she is again!). They even dip into Antonín Dvorák’s American Quartet, itself an acknowledgment of how deeply African, Native, and Irish songs shaped America’s musical identity. PUBLIQuartet’s Indiegogo campaign has a flexible $20,000 goal and is offering not only the album in digital and CD formats, signed or unsigned, but also other backer perks that include a postcard from the road with a mini-composition on the back, a “virtual speakeasy” pre-release party, and an improvised score for any video you choose.
Maya Azucena – I Am Enough (click here to view campaign)
In a column full of bands that are difficult to pin a genre on, Maya Azucena may be the hardest. When your musical collaborations include Stephen Marley, Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, DJ Logic, Croatian vocalist Gibonni, and Fitz & the Tantrums, you’ve got diversity down. Azucena cements her global musical outlook with tours as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department, with a focus on women and youth empowerment as well as domestic and sexual violence. I Am Enough is an EP produced by Timo Ellis, whose own musical resume is just as eclectic. Azucena has set an ambitious $33,000 Kickstarter goal and is supporting it with a range of backer perks. The album is available only digitally, although you can add on an advance screening of the first music video. She also has more personalized perks like a happy birthday song, vocal lesson, virtual “coffee date,” or a chance to be in the cast of her music video.