Friday, February 1, 2013

Outlaws and Dance Halls

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined from my neighboring state of Texas by the creator of the Outlaws and Dance Halls Kickstarter,  Mr. David Mckelvain.  Thank you for joining us today David.  

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here.

Would you be so kind as to describe your project to us?  I understand it has something to do with a tour and a blog?  

Yes, Initially the project will consist of a weekly blog, with the “best of blog” to be published in a quarterly e-book. In fact I just published the first blog post to get the ball rolling. Any of your readers that are familiar with Folk, Roots, or Country music already know that most of the great songs tell a story. My goal in creating an interactive living history of this music in Texas, is to also tell the stories. Perhaps it would be better to think of it as the backstory. This music, not only is known for the stories it tells, but is rich with stories at every turn, from where, how, and why it was created, to the performers, the venues, and the fans.

These stories, anecdotes, and shared experiences are the gems of living history that I will strive to bring to life for my audience. I hope to bring all of this to life in a way that makes the readers feel as if they are right there as a participant. While each of us are individuals, we all share the same emotions. This is what makes music the universal language. If we share in an experience on an emotional level, then we are forever bonded with the people, places, and things within the experience. This what I mean when I speak of the interactive living history. Outlaws and Dance Halls is designed and created entirely around that “living” aspect.

The journey and sharing will involve not only the written word, but engaging photo-essays. Actually, no restrictions are being set, as far as media to be used. This brings us to the promotional tour. For the past three days I have begun talking with singer/songwriters, music artists, and musicians. These contacts have been initiated as phase one of the promotional tour. In the  coming weeks and months I will continue to contact, interview and audition many of these people from the Texas music industry. From this pool of talent, the first in our series of promotional events will be assembled. Initially, these events will be more informal, small venue events in key historic locations around the state. Texas is absolutely rich with historic music venues, some in continuous operation for well over a hundred years. Our campaign focus will be to put the glowing spotlight squarely on the history and rich heritage of the venue/locality, while at the same time highlighting and featuring the contemporary artists that keep the old traditions and influences alive. My excitement and anticipation peaks a hundred times a day, as this dream becomes a reality with every new person I meet and talk to.

What makes you think Kickstarter is the best place to start this project?  

I was unfamiliar with Kickstarter until a friend recently referred me to the website. I absolutely love the entire concept and the approach used here. Especially for artistic and creative projects, I can think of nothing better or more dynamic than giving people the opportunity to participate through the rewards system for the projects they help fund. It fits my way of thinking so much that it's almost spooky.

What kind of preparation did you make before launching your project?  Currently there isn’t a video, pictures, or even a clear plan as to what the project is.  

The heart and soul of my project is the story, the backstory, and the ever evolving texture of the Texas music landscape. Not only would a quickly or poorly produced video be an injustice to the purpose of the project, it would just be unacceptable to me as the creator. Not only that, but if I had the means to produce a video at this time that could capture the high ideals of my project, then I would certainly have no need for a Kickstarter campaign. As far as pictures, these will be added shortly, and will be testimony of the continuing progress of the project, even as funding goals are progressing.

As far as the plan goes, I suppose if I was creating a true brick and mortar project, or even an easily defined project, the plan would seem more concrete. However, this project belongs to a very rare type. This project, even at this stage so early on is breaking new ground. I am taking an approach that departs from the ordinary method of presentation. Consider this analogy to get a better idea of exactly what I am saying here: As the earliest settlers of this country began to venture forth into the western wilderness, How many of them could precisely and distinctly describe where their journey would take them? How many of them could tell you about the landscape they would find beyond the forests and the mountains? How many of them could visualize the natives they would encounter, or the types of animals they would meet along their journey westward? What they could tell you exactly though, was the spirit that sprang forth from every beat of their heart, and all the passion that fueled every step they took. It is the same with Outlaws and Dance Halls. Can I lay it out in a formal outline, taking into account every step of the journey? Absolutely not. Can I assure you of the rich new ground that lies ahead? That would be a resounding YES!

Would you take a moment to talk about yourself David?  How did you become involved with this project?  What was the inspiration?  What experience do you have in the industry?  At making newsletters/websites?

This might sound strange, but I would have to say that my path toward this project began as a very small child. For whatever reason, I was an acutely sensitive person from my earliest memories. When I encountered deep emotion from those around me, especially sadness, fear, anger, etc., I felt compelled to try to understand it, to know it, to question it, to wonder where it came from. By the time I was a teenager, I had learned to know and understand some very deep and heavy things within people. Ever since those early years, I have grown more and more able to relate and deal with people on a level that goes well below the surface. Then as my musical tastes and talents matured, I learned that I was equally comfortable experiencing the music on deeper levels. Add to that the cultural richness and diversity found in Texas music, I was suddenly in my element. Although not published, I have always written, and found it possibly the only area where I am 100% in my element. As I became a songwriter, I discovered a whole new world that married the written verse to the infinite melodies and rhythms that inhabit our world around us, just waiting to be discovered. All of this combines to create within me, something that can only be described as a great and everlasting love that is the fire within my soul, and the thing that warms the blood in my veins; and it is all directly tied to human experience, the human soul, and music.

My experience in the Texas music industry is threefold. First and most importantly, I am a fan and lover of Texas music. Secondly, I am  songwriter, greatly influenced by the styles of Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker,  Guy Clark, and others. Lastly, I have just enough experience as a concert producer/promoter, with an Asleep at the Wheel concert I once produced and promoted in association with a fundraising venture, to know that the armour must be full body and cinched up tight when dealing with music industry professionals.

As a retired auctioneer of 12 years, I was solely responsible for all advertising, promotion, and public relations of my business which grew from a hope and a prayer, to conducting auctions in 3 states and every corner of Texas, selling everything from private estates to prime real estate. During this time I was solely responsible for hosting/producing a very dynamic website presence related to my business.

What is the long term plan of this Kickstarter?  Where would you like to be in a year with this project?  

My goal for a year from now is for a large number of people to know that they truly do have a vehicle for experiencing Texas music and its history, as well as its continuing evolution in a way that touches their heart and soul. My long term goal is for Outlaws and Dance Halls itself to be a living part of the continuing growth and vitality of the Texas music landscape.

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

My updates will always be directly linked to the weekly blog, and will include stories and pictures from “the road”. During the course of my project funding period, I hope to show a deeper picture of where this project is headed. I will also actively work to come up with creative rewards.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

As I am in the first week of launch, there has been no media attention, aside from social media. The focus at this point is through contacts within the music industry, and will be expanded throughout  the next few weeks

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

First and foremost, I would encourage anyone wanting to start a Kickstarter project, to make sure there is not only a creative ember burning brightly, but also to do a gut check to make sure the passion is intact. If a backer cannot see your passion, then it will be harder for them to connect to the passion that would cause them to want to be a part of their project.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

I would like to invite your readers to walk outside on one of these chilly winter nights, and find a few moments to be alone. It doesn’t matter if they are in the country, or a crowded city. All that matters is being alone with the night, the sounds, and the thoughts that only emerge when alone. Let the moment take you where it will. Listen for the silence, or the turmoil, the tears, or the reverie of youth. feel the stirring inside you that is only there when you embrace it. Then walk away, and know that this is the stuff that gives birth to great music, and embrace how unique your place is on this warm sphere of dirt and rock that we call home.

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

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