Like many Twin Cities bands before them -- from the Jayhawks and Semisonic to Cloud Cult and the 4onthefloor -- country-rock quintet the Plott Hounds turned to the crowdsourcing website PledgeMusic in November to help fund their new record. That album is coming out as planned this week, but it’s through no thanks to PledgeMusic.
Well documented to be in dire financial straits in recent months, the Los Angeles-based company did not come through with the $8,000 the Plott Hounds raised through the site last fall. As was the standard PledgeMusic, um, pledge, the band was to receive the bulk of its payment as soon as it raised that self-imposed amount from fans, who were asked to pay anywhere from $10 for a digital download to $1,500 for a private concert.
“Much to our delight, we met our goal and were waiting for our payment, and… nothing,” Plott Hounds singer/guitarist Noah Alexander commiserated ahead of his band’s release party Friday at the Ballentine Uptown VFW.
After repeat inquiries to PledgeMusic essentially went unanswered in early January, the Plott Hounds caught on to the company’s troubles. Those woes apparently began last summer and started spiraling out of control by December, when the Texas band Fastball of “The Way” hitmaking fame didn’t get the $20,000 it was due for a 20th anniversary edition of its album “All The Pain Money Can Buy” (similar to the campaign Semisonic held for its "Feeling Strangely Fine” reissue last year; that campaign was apparently completed just in time).
A band that has been steadily kicking around suburban and small-town bars, fairs and breweries for four years now – working hard for modest pay, in other words -- the Plott Hounds wanted the $8,000 to cover recording-studio time and other expenses related to making their full-length debut album, “Damn the Wind.” The band members have been forced to cover most of those expenses themselves out of pocket.
“We’re digging into our personal stashes and figuring it out,” Alexander said. “We were more concerned about our friends and fans feeling ripped-off.”
The band eventually pulled the plug on its campaign and asked all supporters to file fraudulent reports with their credit-card companies over the PledgeMusic charges. "We didn't know what else to do," said Alexander.
PledgeMusic finally suspended all of its crowdsourcing projects in early February. Its representatives have responded to Billboard and other media outlets in recent months with statements pleading for “patience.” The last posting on the company’s web and social-media pages, dated Feb. 15, reads, “We are deeply sorry for what you are going through and are working around the clock to resolve any and all outstanding issues.”
Fortunately, the Plott Hounds are trying to not let the debacle spoil a good party; which is exactly how one might describe their album.
“Damn the Wind” is equal parts Chris Stapleton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, ranging in style from the stormy and hard-rocking title track to the acoustic finale “Tough (For Avery)” to funkier fare such as “Not All Tornadoes Come from Texas.” Their Southerness can be partially traced to Alexander’s Atlantan roots. For added Southern cred, they also have a drummer named Tater.
The album’s anthemic opening track, “Country Blues,” could qualify as the band’s would-be anthem – mainly because of how it describes their between-the-cracks approach to music genres, but also because of such lines as “[We] had no money,” which ring all too true given the odyssey behind this record.
Friday’s release party at the Uptown VFW will hopefully right the course. The 8 p.m. show will also feature performances by Anderson Daniels and the Jensen Sisters. A fun (and shrewd) nod to their fellow northern suburbanites, the Plott Hounds are offering a $30 VIP party bus package to pick up friends and fans at Magillycuddys in downtown Anoka, which will leave for the gig at 7:30 p.m. Those tickets are for sale via theplotthouds.com/store, where many of the same multi-bundle offers to buy the album via PledgeMusic are now being offered. Regular admission tickets ($10) are available via Eventbrite.