CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Projects From the Music City of Bozeman, Montana
Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs
Nashville. Austin. Laurel Canyon. Muscle Shoals. All places that come to mind when you think about roots music. The well-worn stories of artists packing up their dreams and heading to Nashville persist, though modern technology has rendered that journey no longer necessary. As long as you’ve got access to a decent internet connection and a functional regional music scene, you can chase your dream of stardom from anywhere — especially with the help of crowdfunding. So this week I went looking for artists working outside those familiar boundaries only to find an unlikely music incubator: Bozeman, Montana. Two of this week’s three featured artists come from Bozeman, and we round it out with an Australian artist who is making a trip to Nashville to work with a mentor familiar to No Depression readers.
Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs – Untitled Third Studio Album (click here to view campaign)
I didn’t get to catch Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs when they performed at AmericanaFest this year, but I heard enough buzz to check them out when I saw their name pop up on Kickstarter. The group officially calls themselves a bluegrass band, but there’s a lot more to their sound than stock standard bluegrass. There’s more than a little folk, rock, and blues mixed in. But the thing that most endeared me to Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs was their complete inability to take themselves seriously. From their silly late-night cable TV-skewering Kickstarter video to the onstage banter present in their YouTube videos, this is a group that’s having more fun than may be legal. To reach their $25,000 Kickstarter goal, the band is offering copies of the new album on CD (no vinyl here and they insist they aren’t “hip” enough for cassettes) as well as some standard merchandise like stickers, shirts, and hats. Farther down the perks list you can also get a custom wooden sign made by bassist Ethan Demarais, a Zoom hang with the band, and virtual or in-person house concerts.
Bluebelly Junction – Hot. Wet. Mess (click here to view campaign)
If Laney Lou is silly, Bluebelly Junction is downright goofy. When a band’s tagline is “Funkier Than Your Mama’s Mustache,” you get an idea of what you’re in for. The band has garnered a sizable YouTube following with their roots/funk mashups of artists like Flo Rida and Metallica or The Bee Gees and Nelly. Working with Grammy-winning engineer Doc Wiley, Bluebelly Junction is recording their debut album live, and their $15,000 Kickstarter campaign offers preorders in digital format as well as “legacy media” CD/vinyl/cassette (because they, presumably, are hip enough). They’re also offering autographed art posters, admission to the album wrap party, access to witness a recording session, and a metal lithograph.
Jhana Allan – Untitled Nashville Album (click here to view campaign)
The one artist in this week’s offering not from Montana is instead from Australia, which has produced more than its share of great roots musicians. With such a robust music scene in her home region, why is Jhana Allan traveling across the planet for a stint in Music City? It isn’t the standard “guitar and a dream” pilgrimage but instead a chance to work with her musical mentor (and my fellow ND columnist), Rachel Baiman. Allan’s quiet and contemplative solo work stands in contrast to the gypsy folk/dance/punk bands she became known for in her native region. She reminds me in some ways of the balance of fragile and resilient you hear in many of the recordings of Judy Collins or Janis Ian. To meet her “all or nothing” Kickstarter goal of $9,500, Allan has all of the standard media types (minus the cassettes, thank the gods) for preorder but is basing much of her campaign on the kinds of “behind the curtain” looks that some crowdfunders use to great success. Allan will be keeping a video diary in the studio that she will share at some backer levels. She will also bring fans into the recording process by uploading demos of her songs as they evolve.