Not fully knowing just how successful a venture it would be, Santa Cruz's five-piece "progressive bluegrass" band, the North Pacific String Band, set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the their debut album, Steak and Eggs.
In thirty days, they had surpassed their goal of $3,500, raising $4,052 from 83 different backers. Now, the band is set to take off on a tour of Oregon and California, with Steak and Eggs fresh out of the frying pan.
They are part of a growing trend by artists, filmmakers and inventors to use the charitable website kickstarter.org to have a fan base pay in advance for work it would want to hear, see, read or use.
Mandolin player and businessman for the band, Steve Stubblefield, says the album wouldn't have been produced without the Kickstarter funds.
"The days of just playing your heart out until a limousine comes and whisks you away are gone, if they ever existed in the first place," said Stubblefield.
He's now a firsthand believer in the power and necessity of crowd sourcing as a viable way for artists to support their creative projects.
"Crowd sourcing is one of the most valuable and sadly underrated tools available to the independent creative person," said Stubblefield, who points out that any professional artist ultimately relies on the communities who benefit from their work.
Crowd sourcing "allows someone to go to a large network of people whom they have connected with for even the smallest amount of support. This can equate to amazing things being suddenly possible," said Stubblefield.
For NPSB, it equated to the release of their debut album on the North Pacific Company label, a creative production label Stubblefield began to help promote artists on the Central Coast.
Connecting with your fan base, and offering them incentives is the only way to really successfully promote yourself as an artist, according to Stubblefield, whether it's on Kickstarter or through your own promotional efforts. The man has done his research.
So NPSB got creative with their incentives, not stopping at stickers and t-shirts: they're playing a private house show in Watsonville in return for one backer's $500 donation, and they're recording two custom songs for $50 donors.
"I told him 'give us whatever your heart desires, and we'll make it work.' The song he sent us is ending up to be lots of fun, he is so stoked to hear one of his tunes brought to life by a five-piece string band," said Stubblefield of a musician in New York who took them up on the $50 custom song-for-a-donation offer.
Although it was "no Sunday walk in the Park" to raise enough funds to produce an album, Stubblefield is inspired by the success. He's looking forward to integrating crowd sourcing into NPC's own website in order to continue helping creative people fund and bring their projects to fruition.
The NPC's next project is to help NPC artist Kendra McKinley record her debut album, which they hope to release in the fall.
August 22nd at the Crepe Place CD release with The Railflowers. Doors at 8PM Show at 9PM. $8 At the door.
About Steak and Eggs:
Steak and Eggs was recording in the historical Corralitos Grange Hall, where high wooden ceilings provided "sweet wood tones." The band camped out there for three days, not leaving until they were happy with all of their tracks.
"We decided that we wanted to record the album DIY in the more old-school style of gathering around one microphone, versus recording each instrument separately and then mixing them all together later," said Stubblefield.
Except for the vocals, which were recorded later, each of the band's origiinal 13 songs were recorded live, "with all of us dancing around the microphone, essentially, mixing ourselves live around the mic."
"This older recording style, combined with the natural acoustics of the Grange Hall gave us a sound which we felt fit our music perfectly," said Stubblefield.
The album is a diverse mix of various tempos and moods, injected with all of the pep and talent you'd expect from young 20 somethings who have devoted their lives to their musical passion.
It's the perfect background music for a cookout or morning pick-me-up. The songs tackle the ramblin', surfin', and banjo pickin' lifestyle of the NPSB. From "Sweet Liquor," which talks aout losing your woman to the evil pull of sweet liquor, (I had a lady, but now she is gone/ She'd drink sweet liquor at that old gamblin' hall/ She'd come a stumblin', a stumblin' home/ One stormy night, she never came home at all) to Road Dog, which talks about taking off down a less-trodden path, in search of the next hidden surf break or an unknown adventure, whichever comes first.
The North Pacific String Band is:
Evan "Castro Melvin" Penza: 6-string guitar, vocals
Alex "Cardoons" Bice: bass, vocals
Jan "Poppy" Purat: fiddle, fiddlisk, violin
Jeff "Birdman" Wilson: 5-string banjo
Steve "The Blackener" Stubblefield: mandolin, vocals