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Published: 2012/10/31
by Gregg Morris

Huckle’s Path to Wooden Melodies

“I came to the conclusion that if I was going to make a living playing music and be happy with that life experience, I needed to focus all my energy into one band that played the music I wanted to play. That is why I quit Poor Man’s Whiskey, along with my other side projects, and formed Huckle.”

And so began the next chapter of Simon Kurth’s musical journey. Already a success in the eyes of many struggling musicians looking to make records, tour, and headline festivals, Simon (aka Huckle) searched for something more. As lead guitarist for Poor Man’s Whiskey, Simon, performing as Eli Jebidiah, had already accomplished many of the goals set up by back porch pickers and bedroom shredders searching for bandmates on Craigslist.
But, playing in local bars and your buddy’s Halloween party isn’t the path to salvation for many who want to make a living playing music. This becomes especially true when the musician is trying to spread a musical idea based on social consciousness.

“I knew getting reestablished was going to involve tons of hard work, major time and financial commitments, putting together a great band, standing behind my artistic vision, and lots of luck. What made it all worth doing is my belief in myself, my music, and my community.”

*Community-Based Funding *

In the beginning of 2012, worried about not having enough money to complete the album he was interested in making, Huckle turned to the community via Kickstarter. As a creative project funding platform, Kickstarter has helped fund over 30,000 ideas ranging from music to video to art. As a way to raise capital through the rallying of friends and supporters, Kickstarter was the perfect choice for Huckle.

“I am not one to ever ask for handouts, so I was very uncomfortable with the idea at first. Since my music is community-oriented, and I write songs about the things we all go through, I decided to see if they wanted to be a part of helping me realize my dream of sharing this music.”

And they did. In just over a month, Huckle surpassed his goal of raising $7500. Eighty backers pledged just over $7800 to the making of the first Huckle record, Wooden Melodies. But, perhaps more importantly, the successful completion of the Kickstarter campaign showed Simon his community was behind him.

“I was overwhelmed by the support I received. It was a very inspiring experience to see all those people help me get my footing under me with this Huckle record.”
Wooden Melodies

“I had a very clear idea of the sound I wanted on this album, which was a product identifying the tones I wanted, and coupling that with the message I wanted to put out into the world. As far as the diversity within the material goes, some of that is due to some really good advice John Butler gave me. He encouraged me to embrace the musical diversity I felt within, and not to over think the process of what songs to put on or leave off the record. He said they all represent who I am, and people would appreciate that range of expression.”

Armed with instruments of sound and a desire to not have them stolen, Simon spent most of the spring living in his van and floating between his San Francisco friends’ driveways. As the recording and mixing sessions stretched well into the night, the hour-long, late night drive to his Sebastopol home became less and less appealing. Luckily, the Southern California-raised surfer was no stranger to minimal sleep in the back of vehicle.

“I got really lucky in that the people I wanted to play and work with on the record all did, which I am so grateful for. The record was tracked on Jerry Garcia’s A-80 2” tape machine, then mixed in Pro Tools. David Simon Baker was a great engineer, and my rhythm section of Dave Brogan (ALO) and Murph really sounded great on the record. I was very lucky to have Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips) sing the harmonies for the record, and was stoked to have Nicki Bluhm sing on a track as well. Zach Gill (ALO) and Dan ‘Lebo’ Lebowitz (ALO), also laid down some keys and pedal steel respectively that really made the songs come to life. The music on the record is about community, and I was really excited that the players on my record are from from my musical community. I think that vibe really comes through on the album.”

The basic tracking for Wooden Melodies was done in San Francisco at Lightrail Studios with the vocals tracked at Mission Bells Studio. Huckle mixed the album at Laughing Tiger Studios in San Rafael with David Simon Baker, while MIke Wells mastered it.

“I was conscious of the arc I wanted the album to have, and focused on developing the songs that needed to be on the record to make the overall listening experience complete. My favorite part of making the record was being deep within the process of assembling a song and then hearing it all together for the first time. For me, it is a divine confluence of action and intention.”

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