I never do this any more – just sit back and write a blog entry of a morning – but I’ve had sufficient prompting to do so in the form of this TED talk from Amanda Palmer. It starts out looking like it’s going to be a bit of a hippy-dippy I-love-people-and-everything-is-magical fiesta of the kind which often accompanies independent music, and which I both totally believe in and usually find quite grating. Palmer saves the day by working these instinctive principles into an extremely persuasive and well-articulated business model. It’s totally logical and totally sincere. I find it very inspiring, which I understand is the intended effect of a TED talk.
Rather than talk for hours about how I feel about this as an independent musician with 211 fans instead of 25,000 (I’d like to thank Facebook for keeping track of those numbers for me), I thought instead that I’d just Palmer’s video to segue into a mention of a handful of independent artists I’ve been listening to recently. If you have time to check them out, they all both need and deserve your attention and, dare I say it, money? Do have a listen!
Abie’s Miracle Tonic
I have to start with a Brummie. This one I encountered just before Christmas supporting Misty’s Big Adventure. She has an old-timey vibe mixed with a serious blues voice. Disappointingly few recordings are online, but there’s stuff out there. Sometimes, she plays with a guy from the Destroyers who has serious washboard skills – and there’s not enough people you can say that about. She’s also one of the happy few – alongside Tryo and Terry Taylor – to have done good work with the mouth trumpet.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
So as usual, I’m late to the party. But these guys, who are sensations thanks to the single “Thrift Store” and utterly lovable thanks to the way they performed the single “Thrift Store” on Ellen, are really taking my cake just at the moment. I put the video for “Wing$” above because you’ve probably seen “Thrift Store” but you need to get an impression of the range and power that these guys have at their fingertips. I don’t normally say things like “the production on that album is amazing” but the production on that album is amazing. Amazing musicianship and lyrics and righteously independent.
Ditte is going to be very famous one day, and this is your opportunity to say that you were in at the beginning! She’s come out of the Catweazle Club but is currently active up in the Nottingham [edit: by ‘Nottingham’ I obviously mean ‘Newcastle’, they both begin with ‘N’, you can see why I’d make that mistake] area, and she has that most enviable skill in a musician, the ability to make a room full of uninterested people shut up and listen. This particular song I’ve been in love with for a few months now, and it gets better each time.
The Ballina Whalers
This a capella trio sing sea shanties from back in the day, transposing them to the hushed concert hall environment of their East London scene. Going to one of their shows is a cross between a history lecture and a wild drinking party, and their knowledge of and respect for the tradition they’re singing in is what makes them special. It’s like Master and Commander, but without Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany doing string duets (you might reasonably say: so what’s the point?).