HOME STRETCH! Current goal: 58k for a full-band, nationwide album release tour.
$50 level Midwest release show tickets (1 left)! Signed vinyl (4 left!)
$75 level Good juju pack - 1 left!
$100 level Limited edition Secret Songs EP
$150 level Hand-written lyrics - 2 left! The full Carsie discography!
$200 level A personalized Care Package from Carsie - 2 left!
$250 level Dinner with Carsie before a release show, plus 2 tickets!
$500 level A small, original song - 4 left!
$1,000 level A cover song of your choice, home recording
$1000-$2000 (depending on travel) Solo Carsie house concert
$2,500 level A cover song of your choice, pro-quality
$5,000 level New Orleans Vacation with Carsie - 1 left!
To make a jazz record for people who aren't jazz geeks. There will be no vocal acrobatics, no virtuosic solos, no cheese, and no chimes. Just kickass old songs, simply arranged, simply performed, and simply produced.
If you are a jazz geek, though, I won't hold it against you. I'm as geeky as they come. I'm looking to make a record that we geeks can take home and listen to with our mothers, our grandmothers, and even our indie-band loving hipster siblings.
Here are samples of a couple songs that will be featured on this album. These demos feature only vocals and piano, but the real album will feature a quartet or quintet. To hear (and even download) the complete demos, become a backer!
Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans? By Eddie DeLange and Louis Alter:
Two Sleepy People by Hoagy Carmichael:
And here's a complete version of Sweet Lorraine, by Cliff Burwell and Mitchell Parish (accompanied by me myself and I):
I'm starting out asking for $29,000. What I need to complete the project is $34,000. To realize my ultimate vision for the project (which includes hiring some big-name jazz legends, and a publicity team for the album release), I need $40,000-$50,000. To take the whole show on the road, I need $50,000-$60,000. For more deets on the budget, scroll to the bottom of the page ("The Boring Part").
I got this crazy idea into my head when someone hooked me up with the record Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson. This is a classic, simple, sweet record. It also happens to be utterly, mindbogglingly gorgeous, from the first track to the last. After a few listens, I couldn't help but think, "Why doesn't anybody make records like this anymore?"
For about a million years, I've been obsessed with the recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio, Billie Holiday with Teddy Wilson, and early Chet Baker. What all of these recordings have in common is that they are heavily song-focused. The emphasis is on the lyrics and melodies, and the players are subtle, sensitive and restrained. The tracks are short and to-the-point. The vocalists (who are among my all-time favorites) sing simply and straightforwardly, sticking close to the melody. They sing with plenty of emotion, but they are restrained, so they come across as honest, rather than theatrical.
My aim is to make a record that can hold its own with these heavy-hitters, proudly stacked between Chet Baker and Nat Cole.
You might be thinking to yourself, okay, sure, but there are probably lots of people out there who are qualified to make this record. What makes you so special?
To that I have two answers.
1) I'm not a jazz singer.
Jazz has changed since the 1940s. Somewhere in the progression from swing to bebop to modern and fusion and whathaveyou, the song started to get lost. The favor in jazz has moved away from the song and towards the player - there's a lot of emphasis on smart, impressive, and virtuosic playing, and not as much emphasis on recognizable melodies and memorable lyrics.
Thus, a lot of modern jazz singers will blow your mind with amazing vocal acrobatics and clever note choices. I can't do that, and that's not the sort of record I'm making.
What I can and will do is sing the sh*t out of each song, like I mean it. Like I have something important to tell you, and I want you to understand it. I'll do my very best to get out of the way of these beautiful songs, and let them smack you around themselves.
2) I'm a songwriter.
Instead of keeping up with the Joneses in the jazz vocal realm, I've spent my life up to this point thinking about and writing songs. Songs take up at least 75% of my brain power (I think this is why I'm always losing things, and have bruises all over my shins).
And I'm a darn good songwriter. Sometimes I get to open for big-shot songwriting legends, like Paul Simon. Sometimes these guys even say incredibly nice things about me, like "Carsie Blanton is up at the top of my list... great songs, singing and presentation." (Loudon Wainwright III), or "Carsie Blanton is a rare talent as a modern songwriter... reminds me of a female Cole Porter." (John Oates). Or, my personal favorite, "Carsie's lyrics are an iron fist in the velvet glove of her voice." (Peter Mulvey).
Because I am a bona fide songologist, I believe I have a bit of an edge in the song choice department. I can promise you, I've chosen well. (Curious? Become a backer. Song choice will be revealed via Backer Updates over the course of this campaign.)
*Campaign Video By Robin Walker: theladyrobin@gmail, with sound engineering by Russell Welch. Campaign photo by Bobby Bonsey.*
John Porter will be producing this record. John was born in England, and came to New Orleans after a long stint in Los Angeles. He is a Big Fancypants producer of blues, rock and Americana. He hasn't worked on many jazz records, and I consider that an asset (see I'm not a jazz singer). Instead, he's worked on the records of Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Keb Mo, B.B. King, Los Lonely Boys, Steven Stills, The Smiths, and Elvis Costello (swoon). Ten of those records won Grammys.
David Torkanowsky ("Tork") will be arranging and playing on this record. Tork is a pianist, composer and producer who was born and raised in New Orleans. He's worked with tons of great artists (Al Jarreau, Irma Thomas, Solomon Burke, Maria Muldaur, Dianne Reeves, etc etc etc), and is a brilliant and tasteful player.
A Bunch Of Other Famous Guys who we Have To Keep Secret For Now. Suffice it to say that the majority of the tracks will feature a tasteful small combo including bass, drums, piano, and the occasional guitar and/or trumpet.
The Boring Part
The problem with Big Fancypants people is that they want to be PAID for their TIME. It's crazy! This record is going to cost a bit more than my previous ones because this kind of project requires some expensive talent. I am committed to hiring the Fancypantses, because I know they can make something worthy of that aforementioned spot in the record-stack.
Here is a graph that tells you two things about the budget. 1) Personnel and studio costs are more than half the budget. 2) I am not asking for enough money to cover fun extras, like promoting this record so that people (other than you and I) actually get to hear it.
"Recording Costs" include:
- Paying the Producer, arranger, engineers, and the musicians who play on the record.
- Paying for studio time.
- Paying for mixing and mastering the album.
"Manufacturing Costs" include:
- Printing 2,000 copies of the CD and 500 copies of the vinyl record.
- Paying Lauren J. Andrews (my artistic director for Idiot Heart, and the director of 'Backbone', 'Backseat' and soon-to-be-released 'Smoke Alarm' music videos) to create cover art and merchandise for the album release & backer rewards.
"Kickstarter Fees & Reward Fulfillment" include:
- Kickstarter takes a 5% fee from the funds collected.
- Amazon payments takes another 3-5% for credit card processing.
- My estimated printing and mailing expenses for Kickstarter rewards (excluding shipments outside the US, to which a shipping fee is added).
- A small budget for the airfare required for some rewards ("small" because I have loads of air miles which I plan to deploy.)
If all goes according to plan, this album will be funded by the end of August, and we'll be in the studio in September. If not, we go to plan B: beg a label to fund the record, even if they require a sliver of my soul and the heart of my firstborn. (This would be bad. Don't make me do it.)
Meeting the project goal will guarantee that the album gets recorded, printed, and sent to you. But, I already have "stretch goals" planned, in case you completely blow my mind and we meet our goal before our 30 days are up. Meeting the goal early will allow me to unveil my super-top-secret stretch rewards, and raise the money to fund additional goals like hiring a publicist for the album release, making a couple of music videos, and hiring one or two more of the amazing jazz legends who hang around New Orleans.
Dig this amazing paper doll (this is just the mockup), illustrated by Lauren J. Andrews! You'll get your very own with every pledge of $75 or more.
Risks and challenges
Licensing fees! I've never released a recording of a cover song before, so this is new territory for me. There are online services that allow an artist to pay a one-time fee for each cover they release. If I were to pay this licensing fee for all the songs up-front (covering each copy of the album that gets printed, before it gets sold), it would cost around $2,500. My current plan is to pay as I go, meaning, for each album sold, some percentage will go towards licensing fees. If we reach our project goal early, I may add licensing fees as a stretch goal so that I can pay for everything up front.
My main challenge, as an artist, is keeping my head on straight. It's hard for me to remember to bring my keys when I leave the house, let alone meet deadlines that are months in the future. It will be a challenge for me to stay organized enough to print, package and deliver everything on time. That's why I'm planning to hire an intern (probably through Craigslist, which I've had success with before) for a limited period surrounding the album release. The ad will read: "Seeking incredibly organized intern who ACTUALLY LIKES going to the post office, for short-term employment in the GLAMOUROUS MUSIC BIZ."Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)