CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Campaigns for Projects That Cross Roots Music Generations
My favorite line from one of the best albums of 2021, Aaron Lee Tasjan’s Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!, is “May the guitar rest in peace before it’s dead once more.” It’s a fun little dig at the once-every-three-years or so clickbait pieces that declare guitar music dead. That these articles keep appearing is a good indicator of their relevance, guitar music having “died” enough times to start its own horror movie franchise. Roots music in general has likewise been left for dead many times, only to be reinvigorated by artists like Nickel Creek, Molly Tuttle, and Billy Strings. But it’s not just an infusion of youth that sustains a genre, it’s multigenerational collaboration. It’s Nitty Gritty Dirt Band showing traditionalists that those “long hairs” weren’t all bad. It’s Jerry Douglas working with a teenager named Sarah Jarosz. This week, I’m featuring three projects with multigenerational aspects, helping to ensure that roots music won’t have to rest in peace anytime soon.
Birches Bend – While We’re Waiting (click here to view project)
I’m kicking things off with the campaign that features the widest generational range of the three. The core of Birches Bend lies in a trio of bluegrass-obsessed teenagers who met while studying at Manning Music Studio, impressing its namesake, Chad Manning, enough that he and fellow David Grisman Quintet veteran Jim Kerwin joined the band as full-time members. The group is preparing to record their debut album, tentatively titled While We’re Waiting, and is currently running a Kickstarter campaign with a $5,000 goal that they’ve nearly reached just days in. The campaign is currently only offering CD format, so no digital or vinyl. Other backer perks include their “Festival Fan Kit” of a CD, shirt, hat, and sticker; a VIP album launch listening party; an opportunity for the band to record your favorite fiddle tune; and a private jam session with the group.
Phil Madeira & Friends – A Mercyland Christmas (click here to view project)
If seeing the word “Christmas” making an appearance in an April column has you diving for the “close window” button, bear with me. I dislike Christmas in December and, typically, April would be right out for me as well. This is where I’m willing to make an exception, for two reasons. First, it’s a Mercyland project, and Phil Madeira’s first two Mercyland albums were my favorites of the years each was released. Second, crowdfunding campaigns need enough lead time to have the album ready in time for a proper post-Thanksgiving Christmas season. That has to be doubly so for Madeira, who had to juggle the schedules of multiple artists who guest on the album, including a wide generational range of roots stars like Sixpence None the Richer, Jason Eskridge, Buddy Miller, Cindy Morgan, and some surprises. Backer perks for this $20,000 Kickstarter campaign include the album in digital, CD, and vinyl format, the latter limited to 300; a holiday take on Madeira’s “broken bird” painting; Madeira’s book God on the Rocks; and a USB drive with all of Madeira’s 12 previous albums in addition to the new one.
Ever More Nest – Out Here Now (click here to view project)
Ever More Nest, Kelcy Mae Wilburn’s band project, is about as multigenerational as you can get. Joining Wilburn for her sophomore album, Out Here Now, is producer Neilson Hubbard, who also produced her debut. Hubbard has brought along a trio of Nashville’s best instrumentalists: Will Kimbrough, Dean Marold, and Fats Kaplin. Ever More Nest is currently raising $11,000 through Kickstarter to complete the album and get it promoted. In addition to the album in digital and CD formats, Ever More Nest is also offering backer perks that include T-shirts, beanies, a cover song request at an upcoming show (though they do note the request must be mutually agreed upon, possibly a hedge against having to sing “Freebird”), a backer-exclusive listening party and chat, and a one-year guest list spot to headlining shows.