Crowdfunding Radar: From the Background to the Spotlight
I recently watched a documentary on Netflix titled Hired Guns, which profiled musicians who were hired to back up legendary solo artists on stage, with Alice Cooper and Billy Joel being two of the biggest. It was interesting to see the choices of these instrumentalists who were living their dreams of being professional musicians, without the “rock star” status that came with it. It also made me think that I’d like to see a sequel focusing on roots music. For every Jason Isbell or Chris Stapleton, there are a dozen sidemen, session players, engineers, and songwriters who keep the cogs of even the relatively small Americana machine turning. In this week’s Crowdfunding Radar, I’m going to focus on projects from artists who, more often than not, find their names inside rather than outside the CD insert.
Bobby Hawk – Lights On, Kinks Out
Fiddler Bobby Hawk has toured and recorded with some big names, including Abigail Washburn, Noam Pikelny, The Defibulators, and Phosphorescent. But he’s never released an album of his own until now. For the past year, Hawk has been working with producer Ryan Hommel and sound engineer Andrew Oedel on Lights on, Kinks Out, which also features guest appearances by Anna Egge, Zara Bode, Alec Spiegelman, and Zac Colwell and is currently running a PledgeMusic campaign ahead of its release. In addition to copies of the album on all of the usual platforms, including vinyl, Hawk’s backer rewards also include Taco Poetry, a book of his poems in the shape of a taco, a custom-made leather wallet, and a music lesson from Hawk, in person for residents of New York City or online for anyone.
Joanie and Matt – Sterling
Joanie Leeds and Matthew Check met over a decade ago, writing songs together during breaks at Central Synagogue that led to the release of Challah Challah, which lays claim to being the first kids album in the subgenre of Jewish roots music, or “Jewgrass,” as the duo dubs it. Later, the duo went their separate ways, Joanie starting children’s rock band Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights and Matt continuing as an in-demand instrumentalist for various acts, including the Emmy nominated “Long Hard Times to Come” from the FX show Justified and as part of The Bluegrass Kabbalat Shabbat Experience. Recently, the two reconnected and have begun work on Sterling, a seven song album that remains rooted in cultural Judaism but recasts some of the more patriarchal aspects of the canon through a modern lens of feminism, LGBTQ rights, and the #MeToo movement. Joanie and Matt’s Kickstarter campaign is offering backer rewards that include signed VIP laminates, sheet music for the entire album, and a chance to have the pair write an original song for you.
Chris Stamey – New Songs for the 20th Century
Chris Stamey is by far the best known “out front” artist on this week’s list, having fronted the influential jangle pop band The db’s in the ’80s and releasing highly regarded works with Alex Chilton. But recently, Stamey has been more active behind the scenes, serving as producer and engineer for other artists including Whiskeytown, Chatham County Line, and Thad Cockrell. Now Stamey is launching a songbook and accompanying two-CD set that he is calling New Songs for the 20th Century and