CROWDFUNDING RADAR: New Projects from The Ukuladies, the olllam, and Lindsay Clark
I’ve seen a lot of things threaten to tank a crowdfunding campaign, from accidents to natural disasters to the total implosion and bankruptcy of an entire site. Most campaigns have a “risks and challenges” section, which is the equivalent of the side effects reel on a prescription commercial without, one hopes, the risk of death always present in those. But I never would have guessed “there might not be a post office to deliver my stuff” would be one of those risks. If you had that one on your 2020 bingo card, congratulations. Fortunately for all of us, musicians are natural optimists, even those who sing pessimistic songs, and the crowdfunding campaigns continue on. This week I have three campaigns that could not be more different: a debut album from a ukulele duo, a long overdue follow-up from an Irish fusion act, and an album of “centered” folk from a crowdfunding veteran.
The Ukuladies – Wild Hearts (click here to view campaign)
Having grown up in the ’70s and ’80s, my mind goes to two places when I hear a ukulele; Don Ho and Tiny Tim. But the tiny guitar has become downright trendy in recent years, with artists like Jake Shimabukuro, Eddie Vedder, and Julia Nunes ensuring that the current generation of young adults won’t have “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” stuck in their head every time a ukulele is played. Two such young ukulele enthusiasts are Grace McCrady and Gigi Amal, the Minnesota-based duo who go by The Ukuladies. They have toured around the Twin Cities area since 2015 and have gained a following both for their tight harmonies and their creative covers of everyone from Nirvana to Fleetwood Mac. Now The Ukuladies are preparing to release their debut album. They’ve already almost doubled their modest $2,000 goal, but have noted that was never the full cost of recording, so they are hoping to make enough in the home stretch to finish in the black. Backer rewards include the album on CD (no digital or vinyl release here); a social media shout-out; a custom designed shirt or tank top; and a personalized song recorded on MP3 and sent to you.
the olllam – Untitled Second Album (click here to view campaign)
While my spellchecker does not like the olllam at all, with its e.e. cummings-esque eschewing of capitalization and its surplus of the letter “l,” I like them quite a bit. When their debut album was released in 2012, I was fairly new to the album review world and only picked it up when it landed on my desk because it involved Lunasa founding member John McSherry. After, I was, like many other fans, impatiently waiting for a follow-up. The band’s all-instrumental mix of traditional Irish music with rock elements such as electric keyboard and the funky bass licks of Vulfpeck’s Joe Dart is something that has to be experienced to be truly understood. A 2020 tour had been scheduled to pay for the recording of their second album, but then 2020 “happened,” so now the band is taking to Kickstarter for funding. Backer rewards include the album in digital, CD, or double vinyl formats; an olllam T-shirt; a digital pass into the writing process, recording, musical thought process, and demos; and sheet music from the band’s first album.
Lindsay Clark – Carpe Noctem (click here to view campaign)
Unlike the other two artists featured this week, Lindsay Clark is a crowdfunding veteran, having successfully funded a number of other projects. Her Kickstarter page begins with a discussion of how much the world has changed since she began writing for Carpe Noctem, from the pandemic to the Black Lives Matter movement and the Green New Deal. In revisiting the songs for the album she found the themes she was already exploring, reconnecting with nature and centeredness, fit well with her thoughts on the changing world. Backer rewards include early receipt of the album’s singles and videos; the album in digital, CD, or vinyl format; a project-exclusive poetry chapbook; and a personalized astrology or tarot reading.