Hi! I’m Chris Cunningham - I’m excited to share my latest project with you, a live recording from my episode on the Emmy award-winning Montana PBS show, “11th & Grant with Eric Funk.” I felt deeply honored to receive the invitation to play on this critically acclaimed show that has aired for thirteen seasons - and I jumped at the opportunity to put together a backup band of some of my favorite local bluegrass players. My hope was to do a performance with a broad mix of my original songs in a fun, refreshing way … that I call “folk-grass.”
The result is a live CD capturing the energy of the band, showcasing the players’ phenomenal talents while allowing the meaning of the lyrics to clearly shine through. It’s the ideal balance of a light-hearted, toe-tapping album paired with sincere and substantial themes that resonates with listeners. In my mind, this album captures the spirit of where I call home, the Rocky Mountains of Southwest Montana.
Over the years I’ve had many rewarding seasons of touring and releasing albums, most notably with John Hermanson and our acoustic folk/pop duo, Storyhill. Highlights have included performing on Garrison Keillor’s cruises as well as “A Prairie Home Companion,” playing the prestigious Mountain Stage, winning a coveted New Folk songwriter award at Kerrville Folk Festival, as well as putting on 13 of our own songwriter/music festivals (Storyhill Fests) in both Montana and Minnesota.
In recent times I’ve turned my focus more towards family life and also helping others make music at my recording studio (Basecamp Recording in Bozeman, MT). Collaborating with other recording artists has had its own share of rewards; it’s kept me creatively engaged while also building a network of great musicians to work with both in the studio and on stage.
For my show on “11th & Grant,” I chose some of the best players around: Mike Parsons on fiddle, banjo and steel, Russell Smith on upright bass and Tom Murphy on mandolins and harmonies. We organized just two rehearsals – with the intention to establish the arrangements while leaving plenty of opportunity for spontaneity in the solo breaks - because that’s where the magic happens.
The performance has received a lot of positive feedback - airing twice on Montana PBS and in rotation at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport - which has inspired me to remix the tracks for CD so that people could essentially take the show home with them.
Writing and sharing songs with others has always been a natural part of who I am and what I see myself contributing to the world. For independent musicians like myself, the costs are often more than most people realize. We rely on the support of our fans to be able to successfully produce and release projects like this.
Reaching the goal of $10,000 will help to cover the basic expenses of mixing, mastering, CD duplication, paying the band, the Kickstarter campaign fees, and more. Going above and beyond this goal would make it possible to do more with the album: tour and do future band shows, pay for extra publicity and distribution, update websites and simply keep making more great music.
Your contribution goes directly to getting this project off the ground, and you will be pre-ordering the album. Plus, there are opportunities to go bigger and to help out on a larger scale with a host of what I hope will be enticing incentives and reward options (found on the right side bar on your desktop/laptop, or under the "rewards" tab on your phone).
I’m deeply grateful for your support to help me make this happen. You can also share the campaign link with friends and fellow music-lovers.
“It's the soundtrack of a small town western family. You've got songs about falling in love, missing home, arguing and making up, the responsibilities of growing up and raising kids, feeling nostalgic for the way things used to be, and of course, living in a town that gossips. Plus there are the soul-searching songs – the empathetic ones for the plights of others as well as that of a changing landscape and the costs of “progress” in pristine and irresistible beautiful parts of the west. All comfortably couched in an upbeat, lighthearted musical interplay. I love it!!”
~ Kyle Sorenson (MTPBS, freelance videographer and singer/songwriter)
Risks and challenges
Like all Kickstarter campaigns, this is an all-or-nothing effort - which makes it simultaneously exciting and a little scary. I have just under three weeks to make the goal.
The process so far has been fulfilling and smooth - from the fun of the rehearsals, the excitement and precision of the filming (and recording) on the day of the filming/recording with the amazing crew at MontanaPBS (on 11th & Grant), the positive feedback from friends of the mixes and some enthusiastic leads on engineers for mastering the album.
Since the album is nearly finished mixing I don't foresee any setbacks as far as scheduling - so the album should be out by September 2018. If there are any setbacks, I will let you know.
- (20 days)