Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Silly Sousa

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by the long performing and talented Don Farrar who has come in to talk to us about his latest project SILLY SOUSA.  Thank you for joining us today Don!

Hi, James, thanks for having me.

Why don’t we start by talking about who this Sousa guy was and why a silly version of him is worth backing?  

Well, most people know his name, and that he wrote marches. What they don’t (maybe) know is, that he was the equivalent of a rock star in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, traveling the world with a 100 piece band and filling concert halls everywhere he went. He was one of the most famous people in the world in his time.

Why is this project worth backing? That would be for others to say, really, but I feel it is worth doing, for one thing, because nothing like it has ever been done before. I just know in my gut that it has value, and needs to be out there for an audience to enjoy.

Are these all original lyrics you’re writing for the program or are some of them from previous publications?

All the lyrics are my own, except for the “singalong” portion, which are traditional words everyone has sung at Church Camp, or Summer Camp, and everyone knows them.

This will be a live band and choir joint performance?  

Yes, an 11 piece band and 12 voice choir.

$29,000 sounds like an awful lot of money for a one night concert.  Where is all the money going?  

Yes, but the budget was originally much more than this, and I have cut it down to the bare minimum I need. There are 23 performers, which will cost $11,900 at the outset. Then there are the stage crew, the recording crew, the venue itself, the rehearsal space, the CD and DVD production, postage, catering (everyone has to eat between the dress rehearsal and the performance) costume rental, insurance, post-concert reception, ushers, janitorial, permissions, etc. And don’t forget that Kickstarter and Amazon are going to take $2900 off the top.

Are the lyrics going to be in the liner notes?


Which songs are you doing?

The Sousa marches in my program are:
"Washington Post" "Liberty Bell" "King Cotton" "El Capitan" "High School Cadets" "Semper Fidelis" and "Stars & Stripes Forever." There are three additional marches, not by Sousa, "Semper Paratus" "Billboard March" and "Men of Ohio," plus a postlude or recessional, "The Footlifter." Strangely, these all are pretty much in the same order in which I wrote them.

What got you into doing this project?  Was it really as simple as running while listening to Sousa?  

Yes it was exactly that. But like I said, it was a gradual process, starting with one march, and after I had 10 or 11 it seemed that a concert was the only way to go.

When writing these lyrics I challenged myself to, (rather slavishly,) write a word for every note of every song, including the "intros" and the "breaks," unlike some other lyricists who, (rather lazily in my eyes) have left these parts out, for one reason or another, known only to themselves. You can find an example of this in the Wikisource web site devoted to "Semper Fidelis," where my lyrics are presented alongside another's. Here is the link:

How long have you been performing and what got you into music originally?

I have been singing and playing instruments since high school. At age 15 I was the youngest member of the Kansas City Philharmonic Chorus. In college I began playing the bass fiddle and that was my first professional type of gig. I played with Marilyn Maye,(who is tearing them up in NY as we speak) and a short time with Stan Kenton. I went to New York and joined The Four Lads in 1984.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

I don’t really remember; it just came to my attention while I was trying to figure out what to do with my marches.

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?

I have been putting my project on Facebook and Twitter. When I get a few more backers I will give updates, and there is something called “Vine” that only smartphone users have access to. I am getting help with that from students at UNT.

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?  


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

Just do it!

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

I appreciate this opportunity to talk to you. Thanks for the exposure. And yes, I have a few more thoughts I would like to share. When you asked “what got me into this project” I began thinking; if I don’t make this into something for a larger audience, then why do it at all? Was it just a waste of time? But I don’t believe the Universe wastes time this way. The Ancient Greeks believed that everyone had a “Genius” lurking somewhere in the walls and this Genius would occasionally activate and give you ideas you never had before. I’m thinking this must have some truth in it, because honestly sometimes I look at my lyrics and say to myself, “Man, did I really think of that?” Some of the lyrics just came to me so quickly that I can’t actually say there was a thinking process involved. So why did this happen? And why to me? And why did it so abruptly stop at eleven songs? I can’t answer these questions, but I can’t help but feel that there is some purpose for it, and I would be going against some higher power if I were to ignore them, or let them languish.

So I hope this answers some of your questions, and thanks for the opportunity to expand on my thoughts.

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

1 comment:

  1. James, I have come to the conclusion that "Silly Sousa" for a title is just too silly. Therefore I am changing my project title to: SOOZA-PALOOZA!