I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I hopped on a plane last week. I was heading out to support my friend, singer-songwriter Kathleen Sieck, as she made her New York debut. I knew she would be playing at something called The Outlaw Roadshow, which I assumed was your basic lineup of Americana bands and artists. But what I experienced was so much more…
Started by radio host, Ryan Spaulding and Adam Duritz of The Counting Crows, the Roadshow describes itself as a family of fans and artists. And can I just tell you – this is not hype or an empty attempt at some ‘authentic branding,’ nor is it a big business, corporate-money-making festival for “independent artists, (ahem). No, this is truly what it looks like to build up and support a community of indie artists.
Logistically, it is a 3-day series of free live shows in 3 different cities each year, supported by a weekly radio show. But behind the scenes, I witnessed an actual community of artists in the flesh. During the day, they filmed live recordings of each artist performing an acoustic set in Adam’s loft – littered with an audience of other musicians and bands. The scene was like the day-after-Christmas-hangover – everyone was moving slow, eating bagels and leftovers, and sharing quiet stories amongst themselves, while the rotation of bands took their video stage. In the evenings the two-stage rotation of back-to-back performances at The Bowery Electric, was packed out with fans, and the other artists and musicians, (btw-this was not the obligatory, ‘I’ll stay to support my opening band’…this was musicians hanging out and listening and encouraging each other all evening long). And then, as the shows wound down somewhere between 1-2am, all the musos would find their way back to an afterparty at the loft, which basically turned into a boozy all-night sing-along and jam session. For three days.
Along with the support that the bands gave each other, I was struck by the overwhelming generosity and excitement of the crew of people who produce this thing. Ryan and Adam and their teams were there for each and every show, sitting right up front…listening, swaying, nodding, smiling… And then, there was this whole other cast of artisan characters – to name a couple – there was John Wright, a winemaker from Santa Ynez Valley, who also hosts a live music series in his barrel room – he provided the wine and swag and an overall show of support from the Cali Coast. And then there was the painter, Felipe Molina, whose beautiful artwork was a backdrop for the whole party. There were more…a whole crew of Passion People – doing inspiring things, living inspiring lives, helping others to do the same.
In the spirit of The Roadshow, we can all give indie artists in our community a leg up – go see a show, buy a cd, maybe even a t-shirt, throw out a post and a hashtag. It all helps. It’s all encouraging. And that support breeds more beauty, more art, and more creation. And. That. Matters.
So, with that, here are just a few of the artists who played this year. Take a listen to the clips below, check out their websites…
The sultry and rock sounds of Brandy Zdan:
Kirby Brown – releasing the first of a series of 3 eps this week (October 28th, 2016):
To all of The Outlaw Roadshow, thank you for all that you are doing!