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Man, don't ever take a drink from an open bottle. You don't know what might be in it - Sonny Boy Williamson II, (reportedly) to Robert Johnson Aug 13 1938

Author Topic: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson  (Read 2197 times)

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Offline harriet

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2013, 08:37:27 AM »
Well then one idea would be that cb players who have their own common vision might get together amongst themselves - get a response compilation together and time it to coincide, publicize it as a response and use the outreach of the kickstarter project in some way to draw attention to the cb effort and bring attention to the cb artists involved.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 09:33:38 AM by harriet »

Offline CF

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2013, 09:04:18 AM »
Not a bad idea but I think when it comes to the music of Blind willie Johnson I'll stick with listening to Blind Willie Johnson.
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Lyndvs

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2013, 10:44:02 AM »
Dark was the night, and cold the ground
On which the Lord was laid;
His sweat like drops of blood ran down;
In agony he prayed.

"Father, remove this bitter cup,
If such Thy sacred will;
If not, content to drink it up
Thy pleasure I fulfill."
   
Go to the garden, sinner, see
Those precious drops that flow;
The heavy load He bore for thee;
For thee he lies so low.

Then learn of Him the cross to bear;
Thy Father's will obey;
And when temptations press thee near,
Awake to watch and pray.

I hate to be negative ;)but these celebrity affairs don`t appeal to me.

Offline -

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2013, 11:10:12 AM »
These types of tributes rarely appeal to the fans of the artist covered and are meant to appeal to the fans of the artists featured, bringing the music to a "new" audience.  I'm not exactly on board with the artists chosen either but Jeff, the producer, is pulling from the musical contacts he has and I think it's great that he's doing it.  Certainly new people will seek out the original recordings after hearing an artist they like doing their version.

I was involved slightly, doing the CBG guitar demos, but I did not receive any payment nor will I receive any payment from the kickstarter campaign or CD sales.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2013, 01:46:35 PM »
Thanks for the post, Tom. However, there's something about it that still rubs me the wrong way. Essentially, what he's after is investors (backers), and both the dollar amount and the lack of a return on the investment (other than the trinkets)--and a lack of transparency--bothers me. I want to see details. Some of these projects really are labors of love--and I've supported a few, but this one just doesn't pass the stink test.

I agree that new people will probably seek out the original BWJ recordings, but how many and who are they? These are questions that no one can answer as it is pure speculation. It may not all be about money, but 125K is money--other people's money--in this case.

Offline harriet

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2013, 02:09:17 PM »
I liked that they made the effort to salvage a little of the demolished home, for posterity and are trying to make them into objects that people would want to keep. If the house had not been demolished I would have had very strong feelings as otherwise.

The main thing I don't like and am very much opposed to is they registered and are using his name blindwilliejohnson.com for the project, as that is not Blind Willie Johnson!
« Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 06:24:39 PM by harriet »

Offline -

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2013, 02:12:03 PM »
I can't speak on the integrity of the parties involved, as I don't know them personally, but what's the difference between a kickstarter program and PBS, NPR, etc., seeking public contributions to pay for programs that the "member" will not benefit financially from. 

Offline Stuart

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2013, 03:46:28 PM »
I'm not questioning anyone's integrity, Tom. Please note that the contributions are private, not public. The differences are of scale and details--specifics. NPR and PBS are non-profit organizations subject to audit.

As you  say, on one level they are the same, but I'm not talking about that level. Not all Kickstarter projects are the same. Many worthy projects and organizations seek financial contributions with no expectation of a financial return, such as many of our privately funded public universities. But there is a commercial aspect of this project that I'm uncomfortable with. Let it go at that.

Offline wreid75

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2013, 08:25:41 PM »
I am suspicious of the CBG made from the wood from his house.  I would have to have some serious evidence that supported this.  His house burned down  in 1945.  How did the wood survive?  Is it a small piece of wood making the bridge or a big piece of wood?  Also the wood on those CBGs looked awfully new for something that is 68 year old burned up home.  If it can be validated beyond all doubt it might be worth donating just to get the guitar, other wise let them pay for it their own damn self.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2013, 08:45:02 PM »
Hi Lyndvs - I know the hymn exists. My point was Blind Willie Johnson's performance obviously doesn't use them, and doesn't need them.

Harriet, I am not sure how this will serve as an example of crowdfunding that can encourage more such funding of musical projects. I have seen many examples of musicians using Kickstarter and other such sites to raise funds for musical projects: CDs, film projects, a folk festival, tours etc. I don't know that they need to be shown the potential. Perhaps donors do, and if a project like this encouraged people to support projects other than this, that would be nice, but at $125,000, it immediately makes me feel cynical, not supportive.

At the bottom of that kickstarter page, I got links to other kickstarter musical projects. I suspect these are just the pages I've looked at before and aren't the same for others, but one is a CD of old-time songs by Martha Burns, with a goal of $6,500 (achieved) and the Brooklyn Folk Festival with a goal of $5,000 (achieved). No zeros missing there.

I know that the session/band musicians that come with artists like Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones, Sinead O'Connor et al don't come cheap, but it seems that this is therefore something for a record company to fund. I think musicians, designers and producers working on projects with artists of this level of success should be paid well too, but if such a project costs this much, then again, let a record company do it.

I don't see crowdfunding for people who have achieved this level of success in the music business as a positive development. I see it more as an encroachment, muscling in on funding sources and models for independent musicians who really do need the crowdfunding model to realize their own projects. What's next a crowdfunded Jerry Bruckheimer movie?

If the argument is that record companies won't fund such projects anymore, then let the funding model reflect a real independent project, not one based on an inflated music biz economic model. $125,000 for a CD. Like I said at the beginning, gimme a break.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 08:55:21 PM by uncle bud »

Offline Lyndvs

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2013, 01:00:30 AM »
Hi Lyndvs - I know the hymn exists. My point was Blind Willie Johnson's performance obviously doesn't use them, and doesn't need them."

Unclebud,I`m in total agreement,Blind Willie`s performance is transcendental.Just thought I`d post them,some people may not be aware of the lyrics(and it saves Ricki lee Jones the effort of"revealing" the words  :D).For instance many people aren`t aware that there are  lyrics to "Mississippi Blues" by William Brown!(sad but true,a quick browse over at the woodshed will confirm this.).
         I pretty much agree with your thoughts on the whole thing.If I have spare cash I`d much rather donate it to some good causes/charity who would make better use of it.

Offline harriet

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2013, 05:35:13 AM »
Harriet, I am not sure how this will serve as an example of crowdfunding that can encourage more such funding of musical projects. I have seen many examples of musicians using Kickstarter and other such sites to raise funds for musical projects: CDs, film projects, a folk festival, tours etc. I don't know that they need to be shown the potential. Perhaps donors do, and if a project like this encouraged people to support projects other than this, that would be nice, but at $125,000, it immediately makes me feel cynical, not supportive.

Donors. I would hope it would make it attractive to support other country blues projects, ones including and recognizing dedicated country blues musicians.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 05:24:34 PM by harriet »

Offline -

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2013, 06:51:36 AM »
For the modern world $125,000 is about right to produce and promote a project properly involving these big name artists.


Offline Stuart

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #28 on: October 17, 2013, 10:02:07 AM »
Except that 25.97% goes to Reward Manufacturing and 9.09% goes to Kickstarter and credit card fees. That's $43,825 of the $125K budget. Do the math, my friend, and then stop and think about what's really going on here as well as about less costly alternatives about how to get the word out about BWJ. For example, all of the artists named could record a BWJ song and include it on their next album, with some info about BWJ in the liner notes as well as suggestions for further listening.

Joe Stiglitz has an expression that he often uses (I paraphrase): "It's how they get the money from the bottom up to the top."

Offline bnemerov

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Re: Help Produce The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
« Reply #29 on: October 17, 2013, 02:01:02 PM »
Hi all,
I've been following this discussion with interest. It raises many points for consideration. One that got me thinking was Harriet's comment about supporting such projects as this one:
 "Donors. I would hope it would make it attractive to support other country blues projects, ones including and recognizing dedicated country blues musicians."

I'm not sure how this project helps Willie Johnson. I see nothing allocated in the budget for royalties to his estate or heirs. When we were structuring the John Hurt "Discovery" project a good chunk went to pay mechanical royalties for Hurt"s songs and both his and Tom Hoskins' estates get sales royalties.

Johnson's music is probably not under a proper copyright like Hurt's is, so I'm not saying the producer is acting in an illegal manner, but he is, it seems to me anyway, using Johnson's artistic credibility to primarily further his own interests. That  the selection of proposed performers was determined by whom the producer could easily contact only supports this view. Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, and many others who also have "names" would be artistically better choices, as has been pointed out. But I know from personal experience that it's hard to get Cooder to return a phone call.


I'm skeptical that this project is going to cause a groundswell of interest in Johnson's records. Be great if it did, though the only beneficiary would be Sony Music. And, Harriet, I'm afraid it might have the opposite effect: turn so many people off that, as has also been noted, when someone suitable who needs this type of funding proposes a project, the money won't be forthcoming.

Sorry to sound so cynical, but I've been involved in this stuff for a long time and whenever someone says their main interest is in "honoring" a deceased musician, I have to raise an eyebrow (or two).

best,
bruce


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