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A tribute to Blind Willie Johnson takes you into the world of early blues and gospel and the making of an all-star compilation. Read more

Brooklyn, NY Blues
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on November 16, 2013.

A tribute to Blind Willie Johnson takes you into the world of early blues and gospel and the making of an all-star compilation.

Brooklyn, NY Blues
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About this project

"Johnson's music was charred with purgatorial fire- more than sixty years later, you can still smell the smoke on it." --The History of the Blues

"It would be impossible to list every musician influenced by Blind Willie Johnson, because it would require mentioning almost everyone who ever listened to one of his records." -Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music

Help create new recordings by Tom Waits, Sinead O’Connor, Lucinda Williams, Luther Dickinson, Cowboy Junkies, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, Blind Boys of Alabama, Rickie Lee Jones and More!

THE ALBUM ONLY HAPPENS IF FANS FUND IT.

Please support “The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson” by backing us at Kickstarter today!

Our mission is to shine a light and acknowledge this important and influential artist currently representing mankind in outer space.
Our mission is to shine a light and acknowledge this important and influential artist currently representing mankind in outer space.
 

NASA recently confirmed that mankind has left the solar system for the first time with its Voyager 1 spacecraft entering interstellar space after a 36 year journey.  Onboard the spacecraft is a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk, carrying the music of Bach and Mozart, and Blind Willie Johnson’s recording Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground. Meanwhile back on earth, Blind Willie Johnson's significant contribution to the world of music is far too often overlooked. Our mission is to shine a light and acknowledge this important and influential artist currently representing mankind in outer space.

The creator of the award-winning album and independently produced Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan hopes to return in 2014 with God Don’t Never Change:The Songs of Blind Willie JohnsonGod Don't Never Change is a production of Jeffrey Gaskill and Burning Rose Productions that invites backers of the project to share in the album making process and a celebration of Blind Willie Johnson.  His previous effort which The New York Times called "The best African-American covers of Dylan songs since Jimi Hendrix" earned Grammy nods in the categories of Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album and  Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for Gonna Change My Way of Thinking by Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples.

With a proven track record of success and a mind blowing list of artistic talent, the project's creator is ideally suited to create some great new music and launch the first-ever all-star tribute to Blind Willie Johnson.  But in order to make “God Don’t Never Change” a reality your help is needed!

Blind Willie Johnson’s records continue to capture listeners in a way that few singers or musicians have equaled.  The list of artists he has influenced goes back to Robert Johnson and forward to the White Stripes.

When you think about tradition you can't fail to notice the Blind Boys of Alabama (Motherless Children) a group that started in 1939 in Johnson’s lifetime and still continues today. Cowboy Junkies (Jesus Coming Soon) radiate that haunting ethereal feel of the early blues.  You can hear Johnson’s influence and themes in Luther Dickinson’s (Bye and Bye I'm Going to See the King) work both as a solo artist and with the North Mississippi Allstars. Lucinda Williams (Nobody's Fault But Mine) comes from that part of the country, where Louisiana meets Texas, just a stones throw from Beaumont where Willie spent his last years.  A new recording of Johnson material by Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi (Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning) is certain to bring out the best in his sweet slide and her bluesy voice.  No one can sing with the raw emotional depth of Rickie Lee Jones (Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground) and she will reveal the words to this acclaimed song. Sinead O’Connor (Lord I Just Can't Keep from Crying Sometimes) recently opened her gospel session concerts at Lincoln Center with two of Johnson's songs and is sure to conjure more magic here. Tom Waits (Soul of a Man AND John The Revelator) has agreed to not one but two recordings for the album and one can easily compare the rough gravely voice of Mr. Waits to that of Willie Johnson. Who will join us next?

 

FIVE Handmade Cigar Box Guitars Made of Wood From Blind Willie Johnson's 1930's Home

The boxes are beautifully handmade, fingerjointed and bookmatched Southern yellow pine accented by dark grain, nail marks, rust stains and other natural imperfections.
The boxes are beautifully handmade, fingerjointed and bookmatched Southern yellow pine accented by dark grain, nail marks, rust stains and other natural imperfections.
The dilapidated Marlin, TX Hunter Street home of Blind Willie Johnson and Willie B. Harris. The Blind Pilgrim Collection was made from three boards rescued from this structure.
The dilapidated Marlin, TX Hunter Street home of Blind Willie Johnson and Willie B. Harris. The Blind Pilgrim Collection was made from three boards rescued from this structure.

MARLIN, TX -- Sadly, the remnants of the 1920’s/30’s Marlin, TX home Johnson made with his wife and singing partner Willie B. Harris were recently demolished.  It was here that blues researcher Dan Williams discovered and visited Harris in the 70's and where journalist Michael Corcoran interviewed Johnson's only known Daughter Sam Faye Kelly shortly before her death in 2005.  We were able to obtain three boards that had fallen free from the dilapidated structure and deliver the wood to the capable hands of George Brin at String Tinkers in Putnam, CT.  He carefully cleaned up this old Southern Yellow Pine and painstakingly hand made ten magnificent fingerjointed boxes bookmatched front and back to create these rare and highly collectible cigar box guitars now called “The Blind Pilgrim Collection.”  Only ten of these instruments were created.  Each unique 4-string or 6-string guitar is numbered with a brass plate on the back, comes with solid supporting documentation of the wood and home, instructional DVD “The Guitar of Blind Willie Johnson” by Tom Feldmann, Tom’s signature series slide, and a black padded nylon carry case.

Credits:
Guitars by String Tinkers.
Performed by Tom Feldmann at Underwood Recording Studio
Filmed by John Christenson.

                                                                                     
 
L to R: Limited  box set, Columbia Label t-shirt with artist names, Art Print, Double 180-gram gatefold LP, and CD.
L to R: Limited box set, Columbia Label t-shirt with artist names, Art Print, Double 180-gram gatefold LP, and CD.

ALL BACKERS WILL RECEIVE EXCLUSIVE UPDATES!

As the project unfolds You will receive regular backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process. We will share with you video/photo documentation of the recording sessions and interviews with as many of the artists as possible.about Blind Willie Johnson and his influence.

100 Signed and Numbered Art Prints by Acclaimed Artist Marc Burckhardt

A limited signed and numbered 10"x 12" art print of Blind Willie Johnson by Marc Burckhardt on 16"x 18" archival watercolor paper with 3" deckled border.
A limited signed and numbered 10"x 12" art print of Blind Willie Johnson by Marc Burckhardt on 16"x 18" archival watercolor paper with 3" deckled border.

100 Guitar Picks Made of Wood From Blind Willie Johnson's 1930's Home

Each handmade engraved and numbered souvenir pick is unique reflecting the grain and the veins of the wood and other natural imperfections.
Each handmade engraved and numbered souvenir pick is unique reflecting the grain and the veins of the wood and other natural imperfections.
 



Producing a compilation - by its very nature - is a costly venture. There are musicians and studios, engineers, mixing, mastering and pressing, Kickstarter fees, legal fees, and a range of other expenses including video editing, graphic design, web development, and travel expenses not to mention some extra special rewards for you. With your help, the producer can make this well deserved tribute to Blind Willie Johnson a reality. 

Risks and challenges

The greatest risk is the project will only be made if it's funded by YOU. We don't foresee any issues, but multi-artist compilations invite scheduling problems or perhaps waiting for the best artist to cover a particular song. We have written agreements with each of the artists and we have built buffer time into our estimated dates. There could always be an unforeseen change of song choice or artist. With proper funding we are excited to add more artists to the roster and confident we will be able to secure artists that will only continue to enhance our current line-up. Backer exclusive updates will fill any time gaps and we hope you will enjoy watching the project come together to reach its full potential.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    23 backers

    ★ BACKER EXCLUSIVE UPDATES ★ You will receive regular backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process. We will share with you video/photo documentation of the recording sessions and interviews with as many of the artists as possible.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    198 backers

    ★ DIGITAL DOWNLOAD PACKAGE ★ You will receive an advance FLAC, Apple Lossless or High Quality MP3 digital download of our album two weeks before the public and regular backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process. We will share with you video/photo documentation of the recording sessions and interviews with as many of the artists as possible.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    323 backers

    ★ BACKER EXCLUSIVE DIGIPAK CD PACKAGE ★ You will receive a beautiful backer exclusive digipak version of our new CD, a High Quality MP3 digital download of our new album two weeks before the public and regular backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    159 backers

    ★ BACKER EXCLUSIVE T-SHIRT PACKAGE ★ You will receive a beautiful "Songs of Blind Willie Johnson” T-Shirt, Backer exclusive digipak version of our new CD, as well as a High Quality MP3 digital download of our new album two weeks before the public and regular backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    64 backers

    ★ TWO 180-GRAM LP GATE-FOLD VINYL ALBUM PACKAGE ★

    You will receive a backer exclusive 180-gram 2 LP gatefold album with our new recordings and remastered Blind Willie Johnson originals, backer exclusive digipak CD, as well as a “Songs of Blind Willie Johnson” T-Shirt, High Quality MP3 digital download two weeks before the public and regular backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    75 backers Limited (25 left of 100)

    ★ LIMITED SOUVENIR GUITAR PICK PACKAGE ★ You will receive an extremely collectible numbered souvenir guitar pick made of wood from Johnson's 1930's Marlin, TX home engraved “Blind Willie Johnson” with a certificate of authenticity. You name be added to the album credits as a backer. Your will receive the backer exclusive digipak CD, 180-gram gatefold LP’s as well as a “Songs of Blind Willie Johnson” T-Shirt, High Quality MP3 digital download two weeks before the public and regular backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    21 backers Limited (79 left of 100)

    ★ LIMITED SIGNED AND NUMBERED ART PRINT PACKAGE ★ Limited Gicleé Art Print signed and numbered on archival watercolor paper by Marc Burckhardt. Your name will be added to the album credits as a backer and you will receive our backer exclusive digiak CD, 180-gram gate-fold LP, High Quality MP3 digital download two weeks before the public and regular backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $350 or more

    19 backers Limited (281 left of 300)

    ★ LIMITED 10" VINYL SINGLES BOX SET PACKAGE ★ A cool collectible box set of reproduction 78’s that play at 33 rpms with each new recording on one side and the original remastered Blind Willie on the other. A 10 to 12 disc box set!, Your name will be added to the album credits as a backer and you will receive our backer exclusive digipak CD, 180-gram gate-fold LP, High Quality MP3 digital download two weeks before the public and backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $2,500 or more

    3 backers Limited (2 left of 5)

    ★ EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT AND AUTOGRAPHED GOD DON'T NEVER CHANGE HATCH SHOW PRINT ★ A rare and limited collectible signed by every willing participating artist. We will make every effort to garner every signature possible. We will be adding more artists! You will also receive the collectible box set of reproduction 78’s that play at 33 rpms with each new recording on one side and the original remastered Blind Willie on the other. A 10 to 12 disc box set!, and you will receive our backer exclusive digipak CD, 180-gram gate-fold LP, High Quality MP3 digital download two weeks before the public and backer exclusive updates throughout the fundraising and album making process.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $4,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    ★ #6 BLIND PILGRIM COLLECTION GUITAR (6/10) ★ One-of-a-kind four-string guitar with handmade fingerjointed Southern yellow pine box made of wood from Blind Willie Johnson’s 1920’s home. Hand Carved Cherry Neck with Black Walnut Fretboard and Pearl Fret Markers. Grover bridge and Magnetic Single-Coil Pickup for amplification. Vintage pull tailpiece. Vintage wooden pull volume knob. Copper plate hand stamped “Blind Pilgrim Collection Marlin, TX 6/10”. 7" width x 35" height x 2” depth. Comes with solid supporting documentation of the wood and home, the instructional DVD “The Guitar of Blind Willie Johnson” by Tom Feldmann, Tom’s signature series slide, and a black padded nylon carry case.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $4,000 or more

    1 backer All gone!

    ★ #1 BLIND PILGRIM COLLECTION GUITAR (1/10) ★ One-of-a-kind four-string guitar with handmade fingerjointed Southern yellow pine box made of wood from Blind Willie Johnson’s 1920’s home. Hand Carved Walnut Neck with Maple Fretboard and black position markers. 4 small chrome-screen sound holes, Grover bridge, and magnetic single-coil pickup for amplification. A vintage hinge serves as a unique tailpiece. A bottle cap serves as a volume knob. Copper plate hand stamped “Blind Pilgrim Collection Marlin, TX 1/10” 7" width x 35" height x 2” depth. Comes with solid supporting documentation of the wood and home, the instructional DVD “The Guitar of Blind Willie Johnson” by Tom Feldmann, Tom’s signature series slide, and a black padded nylon carry case.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $4,000 or more

    1 backer All gone!

    ★ #8 BLIND PILGRIM COLLECTION GUITAR (8/10) ★ One-of-a-kind four-string guitar with handmade fingerjointed Southern yellow pine box made of wood from Blind Willie Johnson’s 1930’s home. Walnut Fretboard with Cherry Neck and Pearl fret markers. Natural heart shaped knot sound hole, Grover bridge, a Piezo Transducer Pickup for amplification. A vintage hinge serves as a unique tailpiece. Red ornamental volume knob. Copper plate hand stamped “Blind Pilgrim Collection Marlin, TX 8/10”. 7" width x 35" height x 2” depth. Comes with solid supporting documentation of the wood and home, the instructional DVD “The Guitar of Blind Willie Johnson” by Tom Feldmann, Tom’s signature series slide, and a black padded nylon carry case.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    1 backer All gone!

    ★ #2 BLIND PILGRIM COLLECTION GUITAR (2/10) ★ One-of-a-kind six-string guitar with handmade fingerjointed Southern yellow pine box made of wood from Blind Willie Johnson’s 1930’s home. Maple Fretboard and Hand Carved Cypress neck with Mesquite badge and black fret markers. 2 oversized chrome-screen sound holes, Bolt bridge Magnetic Single-Coil Pickup for amplification. A chrome door pull bridge plate. Champagne cork volume knob. Copper plate hand stamped “Blind Pilgrim Collection Marlin, TX 2/10”. 8" width x 36" height x 2” depth. Comes with solid supporting documentation of the wood and home, the instructional DVD “The Guitar of Blind Willie Johnson” by Tom Feldmann, Tom’s signature series slide, and a black padded nylon carry case.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    1 backer All gone!

    ★ #3 BLIND PILGRIM COLLECTION GUITAR (3/10) ★ One-of-a-kind six-string guitar with handmade fingerjointed Southern yellow pine box made of wood from Blind Willie Johnson’s 1930’s home. Black Walnut Fretboard with Cypress neck, Mesquite badge and Pearl fret markers. 2 oversized gold-screen sound holes, Bolt bridge Magnetic Single-Coil Pickup for amplification. Vintage hinge tailpiece. Vintage drawer pull volume knob. Copper plate hand stamped “Blind Pilgrim Collection Marlin, TX 3/10”. 8" width x 36" height x 2” depth. Comes with solid supporting documentation of the wood and home, the instructional DVD “The Guitar of Blind Willie Johnson” by Tom Feldmann, Tom’s signature series slide, and a black padded nylon carry case.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (32 days)