CROWDFUNDING RADAR: New Projects from Danny Burns, Carolyn Sills, and Rookin
The question I’m asked most often by readers of this column is “How do you find all of these bands?” Often, these questions are from the artists themselves, curious what dirt road off the information superhighway led me to them. There are a variety of ways, depending on the artist. Some who I have previous experience covering will either inform me of their project via their social media or they will contact me. But for the majority, I find them via regular browsing of crowdfunding sites looking for something that seems interesting. Even keeping to roots music, there are dozens of projects for every one I can cover, so having a good hook, an interesting concept, or a fun bio are great ways to get me to stick around. This week, to answer that common question, I’m going to feature three unrelated projects that I discovered in three different ways.
Danny Burns Band – Untitled New Album (click to view project)
Danny Burns falls into the category of artists I already know. I reviewed his album North Country earlier this year and was impressed by what I heard. The list of guests on North Country, which included Sam Bush, Dan Tyminski, and Tim O’Brien, shows how well respected Burns is in the roots community. While it took him five years to bring North Country to life, he’s hoping for a quicker turnaround for his next project, aiming for early 2020, according to his Indiegogo campaign. Burns’ list of backer rewards includes the new album in digital and vinyl formats, a North Country Hatch Show Print poster, a Skype guitar lesson, and Burns’ own Avalon guitar.
Carolyn Sills Combo – Return to El Paso (click to view project)
Having recently watched the Ken Burns Country Music documentary series, I had Marty Robbins already on my mind when I stumbled across this Kickstarter project from the Carolyn Sills Combo. While Robbins himself made two sequels to “El Paso” — “Feleena (from El Paso)” and “El Paso City” — the 2018 Ameripolitan Award winners are celebrating the song’s 60th birthday by creating an entire album based on the characters in Rosa’s Cantina on the night that the cowboy’s jealousy sealed his fate. Feleena, the narrator, and even the horse stolen to make a getaway get their moment to shine with songs like “Feleena,” “The Handsome Young Stranger,” and “I’m Not Crying, I’ve Just Rubbed Jalapenos in my Eyes.” Sills is working with acclaimed producer and engineer Sylvia Massy for this album and plans to tour in October, ahead of its release. Backer rewards include the album in digital, CD, and vinyl formats; limited edition merchandise including a comb, button, and sticker; and the chance to have Sills call and sing “Happy Birthday” to you every year for the rest of your life. That’s a pretty strong commitment to an album, even at a $3,500 pledge level!
Rookin – Infinite Georgia (click to view project)
A campaign bio is like an elevator pitch; you’ve got a short time to convince someone to invest in your project, or at least keep reading. Brooklyn-based folk rockers Rookin use humor to draw readers in to their project, emphasizing the need for crowdfunding with zingers like “In the eyes of the IRS, Rookin is a puzzle. If we are audited, it will be because some money-minded man at the IRS simply wants to know why we have not filled the grievous money sinkhole in our wallets with cement and gone on to lives of compensated labor.” That was enough to send me to YouTube for a listen, and that’s where I learned that even if they did only make 58 cents apiece in July, they’re still a really talented group whose debut album, Unionism, touched on historical events, but from unique angles, such as the death of Mark Twain’s brother. Their new album, Infinite Georgia, is being funded on Indiegogo with rewards that include a digital copy of the album; vinyl copies of Unionism; a digital box set with every song the band has ever recorded, including Unionism demos; and a custom song about an historical event of your choosing.