Real Music on a Reality Budget

MAY 2014 -- Compared to the typical cost of releasing a mega hit, which NPR reported can surpass $1 million for one song, the Clymer Kurtz Band’s small goal is, well, peanuts: “$1,000 for four songs,” said Christopher Clymer Kurtz. “Or less than $3,000 for a full-length album.”

The folk rock band is in the midst of a 15-day crowd funding campaign to raise $1,000 to make a four-song, all-original album. If more money comes in by the May 31 deadline, the group will record additional songs, up to a full album’s worth.

Christopher and his brother (c. 1989)
“Our goal may be a relatively small dollar amount,” said Clymer Kurtz, “but our music isn’t glitz and bling. It’s based on our lives as we try to navigate family, the daily grind, accepting ourselves and others. Grace, I guess. Our challenge is to make those songs speak not just to ourselves but to many people.”

The band has kept the costs of all its albums low by recording in a Harrisonburg friend’s basement studio.

“Our sound engineer is great,” said Clymer Kurtz. “He knows how to make us sound good, and he has a musical sense that adds a lot to our finished product. I don’t mind recording in the same room as his washing machine and dryer.”

The EP will include “Les Mis,” a retelling of Victor Hugo’s story; “Permission,” a cheerful determination for self acceptance and forgiveness; “Promised Land,” about the glory of the everyday; and the title track, “Rain.”

“Of the four, ‘Rain’ is our most recent song,” said Clymer Kurtz. “It’s written from the point of view of one of the people [in the Gospel of John] who were about to stone the woman caught in adultery when Jesus bent down and wrote in the sand.”

Along with Clymer Kurtz (vocals, guitar, songwriting), the Rockingham County-based Clymer Kurtz Band includes Maria Clymer Kurtz (vocals, guitar, songwriting), Craig Zook (vocals, drums) and Ry Wilson (vocals, bass). Earlier this year they performed as part of the Arts Council of the Valley’s 24-Hour Project and at EMU’s Common Grounds, and upcoming venues include A Bowl of Good, the Harrisonburg Farmers Market, Harrisonburg First Fridays (Denton Park), and the Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale.

“We’ll never be famous,” Maria Clymer Kurtz said. “But I don’t think we’d want that lifestyle, anyway. We’re just doing this because we love creating music and celebrating what is meaningful in the mundane.”

Pending success of its crowd funding campaign, the band will record this summer and digitally release Rain by early fall.