CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Projects That Veer from the Beaten Path
House of Hamill
Internet crowdfunding was born when British prog-rockers Marillion found their label unwilling to fund a tour of the United States. Their solution was to cut the label out of the process and go directly to their fans to fund the tour. More recently, cult television show Mystery Science Theater 3000, dropped from their deal with Netflix, raised over $6 million to not only fund a new season but also launch their own streaming platform and avoid networks altogether. While very few projects will raise $6 million, the thing crowdfunding has always done best is provide an outlet for art too niche or too strange to fit into the “sell in bulk” label or studio model. This week, I’m featuring three projects that are not only outside the mainstream, because almost everything in the roots music world is, but also outside the norm for the artists themselves.
House of Hamill – Folk Hero (click here to view campaign)
House of Hamill has always been a hard band to put in a box. Formed by Enter the Haggis’ Brian Buchanan and Burning Bridget Cleary’s Rose Baldino in 2015, the group has released two albums that bounced between rock, folk, Celtic, classical, and everything between. The song that they’re most known for, and the one that best exemplifies their oddball style, is their viral “all violin” cover of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” But while their albums featured swelling choruses and electric guitars, their live shows tended to be more stripped-down, acoustic affairs, in part due to the costs of touring with a drum kit and amplifiers. For their third album, Folk Hero, House of Hamill is making an album that sounds exactly like their shows, only recording songs they have performed live. They blew through their $15,000 funding goal in just over a day, but they still have a set of campaign perks that “mix and match” the album on digital or CD with other items such as a T-shirt or hoodie, a mystery item from one of their thrift store digs, and tickets to their Twilight Zone-themed album release party.
Joshua Rilko – Debut Album (click here to view campaign)
Joshua Rilko is one of “those” guys. The one you’ve seen in concert, but don’t know you’ve seen in concert because he has always been a “behind the singer” artist. He toured for years with Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, and more recently with Sierra Ferrell. His debut solo album is a truly two-sided affair, with the first being the kind of bluegrass fans of his other gigs would expect and the other being, in Rilko’s words, “… something else.” To bring this album to life, he’s recruited a talented group of friends including his old bandmate Lindsay Lou, Billy Strings, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, and Maya de Vitry. To reach his $10,000 Kickstarter campaign goal, Rilko is offering a number of backer perks. In addition to the album in digital and CD formats, he is also offering demos made during the writing of the album, a one-hour mandolin lesson, tab and chord charts for the album’s mandolin parts, and a livestream performance.
Tom Delany – The Lark’s Call (click here to view campaign)
While not the “instant punchline” of the Scottish Highland pipes, uilleann pipes are still a hard sell for some, though a crucial part of many traditional Celtic songs and making their way more and more into rock via the folk metal subgenre. Pipe player Tom Delany of traditional Celtic group Four Winds has likely heard all the jokes, but it hasn’t stopped him from banking on the Celtic music fandom’s willingness to fund a Kickstarter campaign for his solo debut The Lark’s Call. Delany is offering the usual album advance in digital, CD, and vinyl formats, but also rewards like a personalized thank you card, an online masterclass in whistle or pipes, and a tin whistle chosen for you by Delany along with six lessons to learn how to play it.