Beth Bombara Throws a Party for Her Latest Release After a Successful Kickstarter Campaign
St. Louis songwriter Beth Bombara releases her sixth studio album, “Evergreen,” on Aug. 9 at the Old Rock House. Born in Michigan and rerooted in Missouri, Bombara spends most of her time on the road. However, after returning from a recent European tour, she took a break from the hustle, vacationing in the mountains of Colorado. It was there, in a little cabin called Evergreen, that new songs began to form.
“I wasn’t trying to write an album,” she says. “I took the time off to get away from it all, but while I was there I started getting ideas.”
Evergreen was recorded at Jettison Studios in New Athens, Illinois. “It’s where we did the self-titled album, and I really like the engineer, Dan Mehrmann. It’s out in the country, so there aren’t really any distractions when you’re trying to work, and it has good energy,” Bombara says. “For this album, I was really in this head space of falling in love with playing music again.”
Bandmates Kit Hamon (bass), Samuel Gregg (guitar) and Mike Schurk (drums) are featured on the album, as well as Bombara’s old friend—and also John Moreland’s touring guitarist—John Calvin Abney (keys). Contrary to her last studio experience, where she and Hamon played and produced everything themselves, Bombara says this record will showcase more of the band, better capturing their live show. “It’s the most fun I’ve had in a studio,” she acknowledges.
To fund her album, Bombara took a controversial, yet seemingly effective, approach: crowdfunding. In doing so, she raised an impressive $20,000 from a Kickstarter campaign, where fans could preorder everything from vinyl to handmade “Beth Bombara” coffee grounds. “I’d been wanting to do [a Kickstarter campaign] for a while, but I was afraid,” she explains. “Afraid of failing, afraid of people judging me for asking for that much money—because it’s a lot of money.”
In an industry where the product has become fundamentally free, the question of how artists can make money is perpetual. “I don’t know why musicians get a bad rap for trying to raise money for an album. Traditionally, that’s what record labels did for their artists, but they don’t anymore. Now it’s cool that fans can feel empowered to help support an artist,” Bombara says.
With this in mind, many artists who have been put off by crowdfunding in the past are beginning to reconsider, although some still find the method to be less than DIY and question whether the money is being spent fairly.
“I’m not pocketing any money from the fundraiser,” Bombara explains. “In fact, I am spending extra to supplement it. I’m trying to do everything better than I have before, and that costs money.”
Bombara credits touring as a big reason she was able to achieve her high-dollar Kickstarter goal; she has connected with people from Oklahoma to New York to small towns in Europe. “You have to go out and build your audience. I don’t think people realize the time, energy and money it takes to tour,” she says, “so it’s been really cool to see the fruits of that labor.”
As a homebody, Bombara says she misses cooking and gardening the most when she’s on the road, but she continues to find balance between tour life and home life. “I’m starting to realize, this is just what I do; I write songs. You know how trees ‘exhale’ oxygen? They don’t think too hard about oxygen … it’s just a by-product of their existence. Well, songs are a by-product of my existence. I’ve already exhaled these songs, but maybe they’re a needed breath for someone else. And the idea that even one other person will find them useful is what fulfills me.”
Join Beth Bombara for her album release party alongside Nashville’s Lilly Hiatt and special guest John Calvin Abney at the Old Rock House Aug. 9. Tickets are on sale now. You can also follow Bombara for more news about “Evergreen” on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Images courtesy of Nate Burrell.