[Editor’s note: this month it’s Strangebase. Here are some thoughts from the site’s founders…]
The initial concept for my Strangefolk fan website began with a personal collection of photographs which I had taken at the Garden of Eden festival in New Haven, VT. In September of 2000 I started sharing my photos and mp3 audio files from the weekend festival on a personal webpage, all to the delight of internet-savvy Strangefolk enthusiasts. With much support and many generous emails of thanks, I decided to expand the project and create a new resource for fans of the Burlington, VT-based band Strangefolk.
At this time I was employed by Level Nine, an online marketing intelligence firm based in Montpelier, VT. This is where I started to develop my understanding of interaction design principles and the unique website visitor experience. With this understanding I set out with an idea to share my personal collection of Strangefolk live concert photographs, meet new people with interests similar to my own, and provide an unofficial online source exclusively devoted to Strangefolk news and events. Along with these goals, I was also looking for a means to release my creative abilities and apply them in such a way where I could find definitive meaning and purpose. As an avid fan of Strangefolk and their music, I realized that I could combine all of my passions and devote my creative energies to something that would impact a community that was significant to me.
After building the site in just over a week, Strangebase made its debut on February 15, 2001. The initial design provided visitors with Strangefolk news, setlists, tourdates, mp3 audio downloads of complete concerts, live concert photographs, CD-R sleeve artwork, website links, custom desktop wallpaper, a 24/7 online radio broadcast, and perhaps its most utilized feature, the Strangebase SHN FTP server. One of the things that I am most proud of about this whole project is the way people were able to come together through the website and explore the ability to share something as powerful as music. I wanted to try to relate the strong sense of community at a Strangefolk concert with the way people come together through the internet. Sharing music through the server really accomplished that, and I am glad to have provided the service for so many of you while I was able to. Frequent news updates to the site and a new mp3 download each week resulted in a steady growth in the number of visitors, and traffic increased tremendously. With little to no exposure beyond the Strangefolk e-mail discussion group, ‘Fan-2-Fan,’ the site was generating close to 400 hits a day for the first 8 months of existence.
In late fall of 2001, after 10 strong months of operation, Strangebase took an unscheduled and indefinite hiatus. I found my days at Level Nine behind me and took solace where any lifelong Vermonter would: at a ski area. This proved to be wonderful breeding grounds for creative impulses and as the snow melted this past spring Strangebase was given new life in the form of its current improved look. Without straying from the original focus, the new version strives to efficiently deliver information to the visitor in a clear, concise manner. Limited capabilities meant some changes to portions of the site, but improvements to others. While the audio downloads were temporarily disabled, the photo section is always expanding and currently boasts 7 albums which contain over 200 live concert photos.
During the summer of 2002 Strangebase was nominated in the ‘Best Fan Web Site’ category of the inaugural ‘Strangefolk Fan-2-Fan Awards’ given out at Strangefolk’s 7th annual Garden of Eden Festival on Labor Day weekend. It was a terrific honor to be nominated and even more humbling to receive the winning plaque. It was a thrill to be there and be recognized, but the greater thrill is being a part of a vibrant community like the Strangefolk fanbase where positive energy flows continuously. Without Strangefolk’s musical magic there would not be any fanbase to speak of, let alone a Strangebase. And so, may I extend a heartfelt thanks to the members of Strangefolk, past and present; Jon Trafton, Reid Genauer, Luke Smith, Erik Glockler, Don Scott, Luke Patchen Montgomery, and Scott Shdeed. Thanks for being stand-up guys and for continuing to provide all of us with that special magic to add to our lives.
Strangebase is much more alive now than ever before, thanks to the new addition of Jeff Olsen. Jeff is a dedicated Strangefolk taper from New Jersey who has undertaken the large majority of website updates and general maintenance. Jeff provided Strangebase visitors with a server to access mp3 and real audio downloads during the summer, and recently allowed Strangebase to move to its new home at the web address, www.strangebase.com. We have been working together for a few months now to ensure that the pages are actively updated and that the sense of community remains strong. The site currently features a message board forum which allows fans to drop in with their comments, reviews, stories, etc. News and setlist updates are always current, and there are many exciting plans in store for the site in the future. Please continue to visit and write to us with expressions of thanks. We both look forward to continue to spread the positive music and share the love among Strangefolk fans.
Thanks to all of you out there who make the community as strong as it is, without you we could not ever have this privilege. Some of you who deserve recognition and a big thank you from us are: Steve Seremeth, PJ Matson, Mark Van Blunk, Josiah Babcock, Tina Campbell, Bill Kelleher, Matt Jones, Kyle Barron, and Kenneth Shepherd.
Andrew Francke & Jeff Olsen