On the Radar: Frank Turner, Phil Keaggy, and Tessa Lark and Michael Thurber
Sometimes when I’m pulling new crowdfunding campaigns to feature in this column, I have to ask myself, “Is this roots enough for a roots publication?” While some campaigns are easy to weed (the new Behemoth campaign is right out), the ever larger “big tent” that is Americana now pulls in aspects of rock, pop, jazz, funk, soul, and a dozen other genres. While that can muddy the waters, it can also bring some new and interesting styles as artists blend genres to create their own sound. This week, I’m featuring two new campaigns that blur genre lines and a well-known genre-bender who is trying his hand at a new kind of writing.
Frank Turner – Try This at Home: Adventures in Songwriting
For those who don’t want to see the sausage getting made, the new book from folk-punk singer Frank Turner may be a skip. But if, like me, you’re always interested to see the thought process that goes into your favorite songs, then you’ll want to head over to PledgeMusic and get a copy of Try This at Home: Adventures in Songwriting. In it, Turner takes 36 of his most popular songs and tells the story of what aspects of his life, location, and mindset went into breathing the words and music to life. Part memoir, part dissection of the songwriting process, the book sounds like it’s an easy sell for any Turner fan, and even for those less familiar who just want to learn more about the process of songwriting. While the fan-exclusive signed editions, limited to 1,000, are already sold, you can still snag standard edition copies of the book, as well as a signed and numbered cover print, a handwritten notebook print, and a Frank Turner tote bag.
Phil Keaggy – Illumination
There’s an oft-repeated, if thoroughly discredited, urban legend that a famous guitarist (it’s usually Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton), upon being asked “What does it feel like to be the greatest guitarist in the world?” answered “I don’t know, you’d have to ask Phil Keaggy.” The story might not be true (Keaggy himself has denied knowledge of it), it’s a testament to just how well regarded Keaggy is as a guitar legend that the story went to wide and was believed by so many. Over his 40 years as an active musician, Keaggy has dabbled in everything from folk to new age to rock to gospel, racking up numerous awards along the way. Keaggy’s newest project, being funded by an IndieGoGo campaign, is Illumination, which finds him paired up with Rex Paul, whose own career as a session player has seen him collaborate with everyone from Merle Haggard to Jon Bon Jovi. Backer rewards include autographed copies of the album on CD and vinyl, a “hold my spot” ticket for the upcoming inaugural Phil Fest in Nashville, and a chance to get a guitar masterclass from Phil and Rex.
Tessa Lark and Michael Thurber – Invention
What happens when you get a classically trained violinist and bassist, both with a love for bluegrass and country, together for an album? That’s what we’ll find out when Tessa Lark and Michael Thurber, both award-winning classical artists and composers, release Invention, their debut collaboration. The core of Inventions is just that, seven of Bach’s explorations in counterpoint, titled “Inventions,” re-imagined for violin and bass. Rounding out the album will be six original counterpoint compositions in the style of Bach’s inventions, but ranging further afield into influences from various American musical styles. Backer rewards include the album on CD and digital, VIP passes to one of their shows, a signed and framed album score, and an original composition.