I just watched Gary Clark Jr. on Good Morning America and had a flashback to SxSW where I saw him at an outdoor venue with a about a hundred people. He’s a brilliant guitar player and seeing him on the most watched morning show that typically caters to the Katie Perry crowd gave me tremendous hope. There’s a groundswell of great music that may finally reach more ears and influence a better taste in music among our population.
Although Gary’s success story is great, he’s also on Warner Bros Records, giving him an unfair advantage relative to most rising artists. That’s what makes The Lumineers story so incredible. They self-released an EP and then signed to indie label, Dualtone Music Group, for the official release of their self-titled debut early this year. I raved about the album back in April, calling them the next Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons – not so much in sound but in their propensity to find a similar success and a huge audience. And they thankfully they did.
What I love about their story is that it was organic. “Ho Hey” started getting radio play. Fans started telling other fans. Shows started selling out. I witnessed first-hand the demand for The Lumineers in Kansas City – not the easiest town to sellout shows. They played their first show at a small venue here called The Riot room and it sold out. To put this in perspective, I’ve seen other artists that sellout in Chicago play to a crowd of 20-50 in KC. During their next pass through Kansas, they booked a similar sized venue in Lawrence called The Bottleneck and the demand for tickets required moving the show to the much bigger Liberty Hall.
This all happened over what seemed like a couple months and not long after they played our SxSW party in Austin to a tiny crowd on a stage in a parking lot, where they finished the set offstage in the crowd. Things were moving so fast after SxSW, we were afraid they might bail on our live session. But they didn’t and we treasure it. I can’t say any more than I already have about their album and its importance, but as the year draws to a close, The Lumineers story gives me hope. These are the bands I want my kids to listen to one day – authentic music, written by the artists and performed with genuine enthusiasm and a sense of community with their fans.
The Lumineers just released a tour video for “Stubborn Love” that captures the roller coaster year. Let’s all raise a glass to their success.