CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Mary Bragg, Video Game Soundtracks as Celtic Songs, and More
Mary Bragg (photo by Holly Lowman)
Over the past few months, this column has been built around themes. This isn’t intentional but, instead, a result of my looking at the dozen or so campaigns I toss in my “maybe” folder at the end of a two-week period and saying “these three have something in common.” It’s as good a tiebreaker as any when almost all of the campaigns you find are worthwhile. But this week no theme emerged, so I’m back to the roots of Crowdfunding Radar: just three new campaigns that I think are worth checking out. This week’s trio includes a veteran Americana artist and producer, a band putting a folk spin on video game soundtracks, and a young group filtering Scottish music through the lens of New England.
Mary Bragg – Mary Bragg (click here to view campaign)
It’s been two years since Mary Bragg released Violets as Camouflage, her sixth album since her 2007 debut. Bragg has been acclaimed by practically every major music publication covering roots music, including this one, and has drawn comparisons to everyone from Tift Merritt to Amy Helm. But for the past couple of years, Bragg has been more focused on helping other artists realize their musical dreams via a producer’s chair. This year, she’s combining her two passions into one, self-producing her new album and funding it through Kickstarter. She’s got an ambitious $25,000 goal, with a $30,000 stretch goal to produce vinyl, but as of this writing is already $10,000 in, so it seems achievable. To meet her goal, she’s offering a number of backer perks. There’s the usual album offerings, in digital and CD format, signed or unsigned. There are also two “surprise” songs to be delivered in November (which, Bragg notes, is the holiday season), handwritten lyric sheets, VIP meet-and-greet tickets for two, and an original personalized song.
Shillelagh Sessions – YouTube Series and Tavern Tunes (click here to view campaign)
If you hear of a project that reinterprets video game soundtracks as Celtic songs and recoil, it’s likely your association with video game music is the 8-bit bloops of the ’80s Nintendo era. Video game music has grown up, with many featuring scores (and budgets) that rival movies and some utilizing roots music to set their location’s tone. With the Shillelagh Sessions, Merle Harbron and Holly Clarke pull together some friends to bring haunting Irish and Scottish vision to games like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed. They’re pitching Shillelagh Sessions as a YouTube series but, after hitting their initial $1,100 goal, created a $1,700 stretch goal to release an album of original songs called Tavern Tunes. Backer perks for this campaign include behind-the-scenes content and work-in-progress songs from the YouTube series, digital copies of the audio tracks from the sessions, and a chance to request a cover of your own favorite game’s soundtrack.
Scottish Fish – New Album (click here to view campaign)
How can a bunch of teenagers be in a band that existed for a decade? Scottish Fish (a play on the candy Swedish Fish) is made up of five friends who met at a children’s fiddle camp and bonded over a love of Scottish and Cape Breton music, with a bit of New England thrown in. The group recorded their first album in 2017 and followed it up with a holiday album in 2019. They recruited Celtic pianist, step dancer, and TradCafe podcaster Neil Pearlman to produce their new album in February 2020, just in time to have the entire project derailed by COVID-19. Their current Kickstarter campaign, with a $10,000 goal, hopes to make up the funding gap brought on by a lack of shows and get the album into the world. In addition to the album in digital and CD formats, backer perks also include signed copies of their previous two albums, tickets to their album release concert, and a workshop for up to 10 students.