If I placed an advertisement looking for musicians to form a new band and asked for a guitar player, you would most likely think I am creating a pop or jazz music band. However, if next on the list is a banjo player, and then mandolin, you would start to see the makings of a bluegrass or folk music outfit. You would assume this based on instrumentation only – without really hearing the group. Such is the make-up of this weeks’ featured group The Ridgelings.
Formed in Boulder in late 2013, the Ridgelings are still fresh to the Colorado music scene. The group has three songwriters in Tim Novak, Amber McKinney, and Ry Lewis who are originally from Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Mississippi (respectively); therefore, they have enjoyed blending the sounds of the North, South, and Mid-West as well as Colorado.
When I first learned about The Ridgelings, group banjo player Ry Lewis described them as a folk music band. That interested me because I had not featured any folk musicians in Weekly Music Commentary before. Once I got the chance to hear the group, I thought they were a great fit for a musical discussion. The Ridgelings have an appealing sound that continues to grow upon you the more you listen to them. Since I began music blogging I have learned to separate genre from my music listening, and that has helped me appreciate what the artist or group is doing even more. For example, even though The Ridgelings music has a bluegrass feel, I listen to the songs and artistry sans any genre label. As I listened closer, I began to understand that they were actually more of a pop music group, only with a bluegrass music orientation.
Their bio described them best, “beneath it all—the intertwining harmonies, the thoughtful lyrics, and the glowing patina of familiar folk roots—the Ridgelings are, at heart, a backyard string band.” I think I just like the idea that folks can get together, form a band, write original music in the backyard and have fun while hoping to find other folks who want to listen to their music. Away from the glamour of the music industry, it is reassuring to find a band like The Ridgelings. They have the feel of a band from simple times in the past. Throwback musicians who want to have fun playing music and hope you enjoy the music too.
The Ridgelings bio further states, “They may be steeped in the songwriting traditions of Americana, but they aim to please the most modern of listeners, and incite a bit of booty-shaking while at they’re at it.” So many bands out there just love playing together. They do not have lofty goals of stardom, and possibly are not looking to make any money at all. I know a few bands that fit that description and that is just fine. The Ridgelings do seem to have fun playing music, but they have a bigger plan. The group is running a Kickstarter campaign that has already met initial money goals. For those of you reading who do not know about Kickstarter, here is a definition:
Kickstarter is a global crowd-funding platform based in the United States. The company’s stated mission is to help bring creative projects to life. Kickstarter has reportedly received over $1 billion in pledges from 5.7 million donors to fund 135,000 projects, which include films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, and food-related projects. People who back Kickstarter projects are offered tangible rewards and special experiences in exchange for their pledges. This model traces its roots to subscription model of arts patronage, where artists would go directly to their audiences to fund their work.
If you are interested in learning more about The Ridgelings Kickstarter campaign, you can view it on their website. (See the link at the bottom of the post) Right now, The Ridgelings are on target to release their debut album Hard Winter Rations early 2015.
Most interesting is the fact that this throwback band of young musicians is using very advanced measures to reach potential fans. Music videos, modern recording applications and the Kickstarter campaign all point toward a new Americana. The music industry and the world have changed with technological advancements, and The Ridgelings approach to music promotion is right in line with any other musicians today. Kickstarter is now being used by many musicians looking to get started, but I have also seen well established entertainers use crowd funding platforms for some of their projects. I hope the campaign helps The Ridgelings reach their overall goal. I also hope they get the opportunity to touch a wide international audience. My small part in all of this is featuring The Ridgelings this week and helping all of you out there reading discover a true American treasure.