CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Some Love for the Session Players
Phil Madeira (photo by Chris Griffy)
Growing up when every true music nerd read the liner notes of an album top to bottom, I noticed that the number of people who were listed as having played on the album was always a lot larger than the number of people pictured on the album’s cover. Sometimes you’d find a familiar name (is there a rock musician of the ’80s who either Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, or both didn’t guest with?), but more often you’d just find them listed as a “contributing artist.” Once you read enough of them, you started to see that those same “contributing artists” popped up over and over again, sometimes as a “co-producer” or “engineer.” It became a kind of game to me, to find those names. It wasn’t until much later that I learned terms like “sideman” or “session player” or even “hired gun” for a primarily touring musician. But whatever the title, I still find myself drawn to those folks who show up in the ever-harder-to-find liner notes. For this week’s trio of campaigns, I’m honoring the “contributing artist” with a solo campaign from one of Nashville’s most prolific collaborators and two more that feature a couple of the best “contributing artists” in roots music.
Phil Madeira – Untitled New Album (click here to view campaign)
It’s hard to describe to people who have never been to AmericanaFest how powerful a tiebreaker “Emmylou might show up” or “Buddy might show up” is for festival attendees. The pair sit in on so many shows that it’s kind of like the AmericanaFest “Where’s Waldo.” That’s how I ended up in church at AmericanaFest 2011, watching one of Emmylou’s Red Dirt Boys lead a rotating cast of singers through his Mercyland project. That day has led me to make Red Dirt Boys piano man Phil Madeira a tiebreaker of his own when deciding between shows. For Madeira’s new Kickstarter campaign, he’s offering the album that first brought him to my attention, Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us bundled with his new album for backers. In addition to the new album in digital, CD, and vinyl formats (just digital and CD for Mercyland), backer perks include Madeira’s memoir God on the Rocks, vinyl copies of Madeira’s three previous albums, and a hand-painted postcard featuring his “Mercyland Bird.”
Pat Byrne – Into the Light (click here to view campaign)
I don’t typically care for reality television singing shows, but I do find it interesting just how many artists from The Voice find themselves drawn to roots music. Enter Pat Byrne, who was a winner on the first season of the Irish version of The Voice in 2012. Since then, Byrne has moved to America and put in the work to establish himself as more than “that guy from the telly,” hitting roots music festivals and making new fans along the way. His most recent album, Into the Light, which is currently funding through Kickstarter, was recorded in Nashville and features our second Red Dirt Boy of this column, Chris Donohue, along with John Ginty, Dave Jacques, and Jaimee Harris performing on a song the pair co-wrote. Backer perks include the album in digital, CD, and vinyl; an album of Byrne’s favorite Christmas songs; an album listening party, in person or by Zoom depending on the state of the industry at the time; and a “mystery box” full of Byrne items.
Kelly Hunt – Ozark Symphony (click here to view campaign)
Kelly Hunt is one of those artists I am kind of embarrassed that I wasn’t previously familiar with. She’s been recommended to me by numerous friends whose tastes I trust, but something else always drew away my attention. But when another friend who rarely leads me astray pointed me to the Indiegogo campaign for Hunt’s new album Ozark Symphony, I gave finally gave her the attention she deserved and realized that I should have been listening to my friends all along. For her new album, Hunt has tapped Dirk Powell, who has played with pretty much everyone in roots music and produced or co-produced some of the genre’s best albums of the last decade. In addition to the album in digital and CD formats, backer perks also include a signed lyric book and a needlepoint banjo keyfob.