A little over a year ago, I sat on the banks of Lake Michigan watching the sunset over the water and pondering my future. I decided to call my friend and confidant, Tommy Maher, to share some thoughts and ideas I'd been considering. We discussed our aspirations to travel around and play music for a living and wondered how to turn our dreams into reality. It soon dawned on me that I needed a jumpstart. Something needed to come along to break the normal routine and get the ball rolling. Shortly after getting off the phone with Tommy I remembered something that many of my good friends and colleagues had done to assist them in starting their careers, the crowd funding site known as Kickstarter. I'd always wanted to do one but was waiting for the right time, and now, the time had come...
Upon returning to Asheville, I considered ways to approach my Kickstarter campaign. I decided to employ the assistance of my good friend of many years, Johanna Hagarty, to help in keeping the project organized and we got to work. We decided to Kickstart an album of material I had been working on since moving to Asheville and call it the "Fireside Collective". I began asking around to see who was willing to help with the project and found an overwhelming amount of support. My old pal Taylor Helhake put together an awesome video, we had a successful Kickstarter party at Natalie Faulkners house, and the ball was rolling. I was fortunate enough to have the assistance of one of Asheville's most talented acoustic artists, Jon Stickley, who helped produce the album as well as perform on it. I was a little nervous, but after a month long campaign, we reached our goal and were ready to record an album!
With the likes of Lyndsay Pruett, Drew Matulich, Jake O'Connor, Mike Evans, Jon Stickley, Tommy Maher, Rob Parks, Bradley Carter, Calder Baker, Johanna Hagarty, and Carson White, I knew recording the album would be a blast. We spent 10 days in Robert George's Sound Temple Studios recording, editing, and mixing, and by the end had 9 original tracks ready to be mastered, printed and distributed. It was a no-brainer when it came to who would design the album and, when I called my older brother Jeremy, he got to work and in no time had a beautiful design for our album, "Shadows and Dreams."
Now that the album was recorded, designed, and ready to be released, I just needed a band. In a town with so many talented musicians, where do you begin to look? I knew I could count on my old pal Tommy, and after a few long talks on the phone, he decided to quit his job in Raleigh and move to Asheville. Now I needed a bass player. Who better than a guy who I played in a college band with, a fellow of extraordinary talent and a voice to go with it... Mr. Carson White. Now I had bass, and Dobro, what next.... hmmm, how about some guitar? It seems to me that Asheville probably has more great guitarist per capita then just about anywhere.... this was a hard one. I thought about the qualities that would be important for a guitarist in the Fireside Collective, and I realized I was asking for a lot. But that was fine, I just so happened to live with one of the best guitarists in the area, and a musician who I'd known and admired for many years. I asked Josh Bertram to join the Collective and was lucky to have him agree to come along for the ride. Since Johanna Hagarty was so integral in helping the Kickstarter succeed and she had lent her vocal talents to the album, I asked her to join us for a bit and help the band get going. With the band lineup set, it was time to release the album!
Thanks to Scott Woody and his family, we had a great release party at Isis Restaurant and Music Hall in West Asheville. With all the artists who performed on the album joining the newly formed Fireside Collective, and all the friends and family who came out to support, it certainly was a night to remember! Now it was time to take the show on the road. Tommy discovered a hidden talent for booking shows and quickly began building tours and helping the Collective hit the road.
After 2 tours across North Carolina, and with over 50 shows performed this year, the Fireside Collective is off to a great start! Special thanks to Johanna Hagarty for being a part of the first tour with us and we wish her much success as she continues to pursue her passion for event management and festival planning! We'd also like to thank all of the fans who came out to support us and we look forward to seeing you all in the future. Thanks to Cara Mastrianni for coming on the road with us and helping out with merch, and for taking pictures and videos of the band for us to critique :). Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Kickstarter, you're an integral part of the Fireside Collective and your generosity will never be forgotten. This past year has shown me how far the support and love from a community can go in helping one realize their dreams. On behalf of the Fireside Collective, from the deepest part of my heart, Thank you.
Winners of 2016 Merlefest Band Competition!!
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