It felt like a scene from a movie as I headed up the steps to the entrance of Buchanan Hall listening to the steady stomping rhythmic beat coming from inside. The Crooked Angels were in the house and I, and anyone within a hundred yards, could tell the party had just begun. The beat echoing into the parking lot was from a song titled “Ticket When the Trumpet Sounds” a song Jamie Potter defines as “about as downhome and backwoods as we get.“

The song easily draws you in with its rhythmic almost classic country feel yet with a little something edgy woven in at the core. Still, at parts, just classic enough that I could almost see this being something I heard coming from the Motorola back in the 1960s during the Porter Waggoner show. Or, perhaps just a few years later, on Hee Haw. Undeniably it’s a great song.  And it’s also the first song on the band’s new album “Bread and Bourbon.”

Tonight the Crooked Angels played their all new (and first) album for the people of Middleburg. The concert was a thank you to the people of Middleburg where a great deal of the support for the album originated.

Seeing the popularity of their music growing and not wanting to get lost in the potential limitations on creative control that can occur when utilizing more conventional commercial production and funding sources, the group decided to go with crowd funding to make this album a reality. “The record was 95% funded by fans, many of them local, so it was like having that Lion King moment where we present our cub to the world up on a high cliff…or stage as it were,” Potter remembered.

Crowd funding can in many cases give musicians more freedom and creative control over their music and a greater ability to interact with their fan base.  But it’s definitely not just sitting back and waiting for the crowd to send you money. Creating the album is a major project and Crowd Funding doesn’t just happen.

“We are still very green with crowd funding even if we somehow managed to launch a successful record campaign. In the wake of fewer labels and fewer talent scouts it may be the only way for up and coming artists to get their work out there in a professional way. It’s not for the lackadaisical type of person; you have to promote the campaign every day after the launch. You can’t sit back and just assume people will take notice,” Jamie explained.

Tonight’s concert was the first time the band has played the CD live with all the players from the album together. In fact this evening’s show was the first time all of the players on the album had been in the same room together.

Crowd funding worked for the Crooked Angels first ever album and the band wanted to do this special concert as a thank you to the people of Middleburg and the surrounding areas who played such a pivotal role in making this album a reality.

“We tried to play “Bread & Bourbon” front-to-finish so that listeners could feel what it was like to hear the album played live, which was a total first since all the players had never been in the same room together!”

“We had two amazing fiddle players joining us on stage: Allison Smith who has taught violin for years and played with great bands from Oklahoma to Baltimore. Caleb Stine, our high-flying Eagle Eyed friend, who in no way played “second fiddle” if you get my meaning, just picked up the instrument a couple years ago and man oh man, has he created a sweet, heartbreaking kind of tone. He’s also a music icon touring the states. We’ve learned a lot from his example of making meaningful art.

“The great trombone player is Brian Priebe, a focal point of the excellent Baltimore based band The Bumper Jackson. Brian’s solo in the ragtime track on the record “End of the Line Blues” makes us grin until our faces hurt.”

When I heard the album live Sunday night there in Buchanan Hall, it was for me the first time hearing the Crooked Angels. Right away I liked the music; it reminded me of Neil Young’s later collaborative works, not identical mind you but a similar feel so I asked Jamie and Amy about their musical influences.

Amy responded immediately, “Our influences are so many, but if we could narrow it down to a small crowd of heroes it would be John Prine for his whimsical ability to sing both comedy and tragedy at the same time; Townes van Zandt for his sparse Texan poetry, a real master of minimalist, hard-hitting line; Shovels & Rope, the great South Carolina husband and wife duo for their raw, gut punch duo sound; the blues greats–Otis Rush, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Snooks Eaglin rock Jamie’s world like no other. “

But as for whether or not the release of “Bread and Bourbon” meant the arrival of a destination, Jamie and Amy made it clear this is just a step in an ongoing journey.

Are they at a milestone?

Absolutely.

But there’s so much more to come. 

The second of this two-part culture series will appear in the Eccentric’s August issue.

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I started in photography in 1977 when I bought a used “Nikkomat” from our Postman who sidelined as a wedding photographer. I went with him as his apprentice to weddings and events and helped with set up, etc and learned about shooting, perspectives, angles, even setting up my own darkroom in my bedroom and developing my own B&W 35mm Prints. But I actually started before that, back before I even had my first camera. At 16 I studied painting in Arcylics under a famous artist named James Michael Triggs, who like his father before him painted magazine covers for such famous magazines as Gun Digest, Flying, etc. Already being a skilled sketch artist I picked up painting quickly, learning about lighting, shadows, color, perspective, etc. This no doubt translated into my photography and comes out in the art I express through the lens of my camera. I began studying Korean Karate in 1977 at the Jhoon Rhee Schools of Tae Kwon Do in Hyattsville Md studying under Jeff Smith and Steve McGill. I went on to try my hand at other styles including Hung Gar Kung Fu and Aikido as well as Boxing at the YMCA. I went on to become a highly experienced Rock Climber, becoming not only a skilled technical climber but also a paid instructor and guide for “S.P.L.O.R.E”. Additionally I lifted weights and did other forms of cross training. Being skilled in heights, safety, ropes, knots and rigging I can photograph were other less physically adept photographers may not be able to venture. I’m available for both private and commercial shoots and specialize in equestrian photography but am also a skilled portrait artist and crowd candids for event coverage. I can be reached at chris@chrisweberstudios.com.