My Answer: Good question. Artists today (like me) often fund albums without the help of a record label. These artists scrimp and save and cut corners to make their records in the hopes of making their money back through cd sales at concerts and online sales in the years following. As one Kickstarter donor said to me " Kickstarter [is] microfinance, American style." Receiving funding up front helps artists focus their goals into those that are attainable. It helps them sustain long term artistic careers rather than burning out over frustration and money concerns. Kickstarter tells artists who their fans are and what they enjoy. It is the best way to encourage the artists you love to KEEP making the art you enjoy. You are the record label! You determine which artists are successful. You ARE the reason art will thrive. pledge here: http://kck.st/nRmvne
I think the idea first came into our heads in early September last year. Matt Malikowski and I sat and waited for someone to pick us up at a train station following a week of fiddling and singing at Valley of The Moon Scottish Fiddle camp. I was blabbering about how I wish I could record projects with all the amazing musicians in all the small scenes I am a part of. Matt responded with, "Why can't you?" That statement gave way to a flurry of brainstorms about all the different projects and musicians and scenes and songs and times of year when something like this might happen. We had, of course, already begun making a collaborative arty rock influenced full-length album that we are still putting the finishing touches on. We started sending out emails to create several unique ensembles for each recording. The goal was to spend one or two days in the studio on each project.
"The Boston Urban Ceilidh EP" came first. I wanted to capture the spirit of the dance that Hanneke Cassel and I founded seven years ago. The dance itself is not an earnest event. It is a chance for people, dancers and musicians alike, to be rowdy and silly and joyful. Much of the BUC EP leans on pastiche of Scottish Traditional dance music and culture. The EP features Paul Jennings, Matt and Shannon Heaton and Patrick Murray as well as an eight bit arrangement by Jacob Silver. We released the EP at a Boston Urban Ceilidh as part of BCMFest on January 8, 2010. "Two Amps, One Microphone" was next on the list, a duet with Jefferson Hamer. After spending two years performing as a duo we recorded a string of celtic-influenced American rock songs in one night. We shared one mic and the set came together with nary an overdub. We promptly mixed and released the EP the following night at a co-bill with Mike and Ruthy Merenda and Hanneke Cassel in Portland, ME on February 4, 2010.
On August 17, 2010 we will release the "Acoustic Project" the third in the EP series. I'd say this EP was really the inspiration for the series. After a few impromptu performances at various fiddle camps I asked Natalie Haas, Brittany Haas (Crooked Still), and Hanneke Cassel if they would record some songs and tunes live in the studio just as we play them in concert. The EP features five songs and two instrumentals played on fiddles and cello. From the driving, Cajun-influenced “Perfect Tuesdays” to the sparse plucked “Women of The Ages” we explore the potential of a fiddle-based string quartet.
December 16 and 17 we headed into the studio with Rose Polenzani, Jennifer Kimball and Rose Cousins to record the beginnings of the Vocal EP. Anne Heaton and Aoife O'Donovan joined in for two days of recording in late January to finish the EP. While there is some overlap in song choice between the EPs the Vocal EP features four original songs, one feist cover and one instrumental arranged with sparse instruments and thick, rich vocals. We are hoping to mix and master the vocal EP for release in the fall.
I am now officially addicted to these EP projects. I am finding more excuses to record and collaborators to work with than I have time to engage. The newest EP I am hoping to work on is a grouping of classic American songs. We hope to find a living room, a nice piano and a day or two to make simple and enjoyable versions of our favorites.
Check out the music video of Mariel Vandersteel, Rose Polenzani, Valerie Thompson and me playing "Perfect Tuesdays" from the upcoming "Acoustic Project". Mariel and I play fiddles, Rose plays toy piano, and Valerie plays cello. Then we had a backyard barbecue with Bill Weigandt.