I didn't really start listening to The Choir until they released Circle Slide. But through my high school days I was pretty much a hair metal guy. Then in college my horizons began to expand, and Circle Slide was a big part of that. Since then, I've bought all The Choir's releases. Many of their songs hold deep meaning for me, meeting me right where I am - in the face of joy, fear, doubt, love, and redemption. I could write a book about what each of the Circle Slide songs means to me.... So, when we began planning the first Audiofeed The Choir was high on my list of bands I hoped we could get to come "someday". With our short timeline and fledgling status, we were having trouble gaining any traction with booking or ticket sales. Honestly, there were a lot of skeptics (sometimes I was one myself). But in the face of that uncertainty The Choir jumped on board. And not just on board for a set by The Choir. Their band members went above and beyond, participating in many ways - Steve Hindalong offered a songwriting seminar and, I think played for at least three other artists. Confirming what I guessed before I met them. These guys are part of our family.
Dan Michaels of The Choir recently took time to chat with me about Audiofeed, Cornerstone, and their new campaign to re-release Circle Slide on vinyl.
The Choir opened the first Cornerstone and closed the last Cornerstone. I'm generally not very open with my emotions (it's one of my many problems), but I was wiping away tears through that entire final set in 2012. How was The Choir (and perhaps you personally) impacted by Cornerstone?
I can’t see how any artist or band who have performed at Cornerstone more than a few times could not be significantly impacted. Community and connection resulted through the spirit of this festival and the kind artists that appeared there. Between JPUSA and artists. Between artists and fans. Thrilled and taken back is how I remember the first several years of the festival as I discovered so many new people with a passion for the kind of music we played. Supported is how I felt for many years after from JPUSA as well as the artist and fan community. Sad, disappointed and proud is how I felt at the last Cornerstone. Sad to see the annual community and connection to come to a close. Disappointed (but understandable) that a good chunk of folks seemed to have aged out over the years and couldn’t make the trek to a cornfield for a week. Proud of all Cornerstone accomplished, the individuals who were touched and changed forever, the platform it provided to propel artists to a national level.
Audiofeed grew from the seeds Cornerstone planted. I hope it is much broader than that. Have you seen the seeds multiplying in other venues, festivals, and gatherings, or do you feel that the spirit of Cornerstone is at risk?
Cornerstone was unique. Its spirit was so different due to JPUSA’s approach on everything and the type of music, art and speakers involved.
How and where have you seen pockets of support for artists grow and flourish? From your perspective, what should we (we meaning fans generally and perhaps Audiofeed specifically) do differently to support artists? What are we doing well? How can we all duplicate what you have seen work well?
Our (the collective “our”) genre doesn’t have a vast reach by commercial standards, but damn the folks into it are loyal, passionate and care. A lot of the artists at Audiofeed are independent. The Choir and their peers are indie of course. What that mostly means is there’s not a marketing team behind these bands or a promotions budget to help further the platform. We always are grateful for word of mouth. We depend on it. What would I ask for help fans? Bring a friend or two with you at our shows. Share our music on your Facebook, Twitter etc. We’d love to have a shot of earning new listeners. Jim, it’s hard for me to speak into how Audiofeed can do differently to better support artists as I’m not on the inside to everything that is done. Captain Obvious here, but the best support for artists in a concert or festival setting…bring the people! Butts in the seat…meat in the stands – haha. If folks show up, we’ll do our very best to earn their favor.
There are few Christian bands (or bands of any genre for that matter) that have weathered the test of time like The Choir. I listened to your music in high school, and I eagerly await your new releases 25 years later. If you could go back in time and talk to 19 year old (Dan or Derri or Steve or Tim), what would you want to tell him?
It’s going to be okay. Just breathe. It’s going to be okay.
Yeah, at 45 years old I now understand that advice really well myself... When booking our first Audiofeed, many artists told us they could not take a risk on us; "it's going to be a dozen people standing in a cornfield"... that was one of the things we heard. But The Choir jumped on board and was a big part of giving us credibility. (Thanks) And Steve put on a songwriting seminar and played with probably another 5 artists - for no extra compensation. This might be for my own curiosity as much as anything else... why did you believe enough in us to give us a chance?
Trust. We generally see the good in people and we err on the side of loyalty and trust. The effort and time that it takes to coordinate, promote and finance an event of this size is massive. Audiofeed was presented to us with a sense of heart for the artists and a desire to connect with a community. Hard work and a persevering spirit are often rewarded – at least to the extent that we would expect to see more than a dozen folks standing in a cornfield...
What would you like to tell us about your current kickstarter campaign and plans for the future?
We were thrilled with the enthusiastic reception to our Circle Slide 25 Year Anniversary tour and the release of the re-mastered Circle Slide double CD this past year. We played nearly 40 shows on the CS tour to larger crowds than we’ve seen since the early 90s. Folks were coming out of the woodwork and many said they hadn’t seen us perform since the early 90s. Even before, but especially during all of this we’ve received a good number of suggestions to put Circle Slide on vinyl for the first time. Another often requested item is to put out a new live album on DVD. With the help of our Choir friends and listeners, we’d like to do both. But, as I mentioned earlier, we’re not supported by a record label with production and marketing budgets so we are asking for partnership in this effort. While we’ve met our goal of $12,500, it actually costs a good bit more than that to even make the minimum 500 LPs and DVDs. Lots of folks need to be paid outside of our circle to even get to the point of manufacturing. We’ll take care of getting there, and hoping the Circle Slide experience earns the favor of fans to support the printing and manufacturing side.
Imagine One Perfect Circle / The Choir / Circle Slide on Vinyl