Cam Powell here, bass player for kemp ridley (and Scene SC intern/writer/booking contact/I don’t know what my title is anymore). 2011 was our second full year of existence, and a monumental one at that. Over the course of the past 12 months, we’ve laid a foundation for what we hope will be continued success and good times playing music for anyone who cares to listen. I’ll try to detail our year in review for you in somewhat chronological order, grouping by event category as well:
iTunes – We released our 5-song, eponymous EP at the beginning of June 2010 but didn’t end up taking our talents to the Web until the second week of January 2011. Getting our music up on iTunes was a much easier process than we thought it would be and just being able to say “find us on iTunes” to the crowd at shows felt pretty awesome. It was a great way for our fans to be able to get their hands on our music outside of buying CDs at shows too, considering we often forgot to make more CDs and wouldn’t have any at our merch table.
Media attention – Even though we’d never sent out press releases, media outlets caught wind of us either through seeing us live or by word of mouth. Seeing our name on the club calendar in the Free Times was probably the coolest thing we’d experienced in print up to this point, so having blurbs written about us by some of our favorite publications (including The State, the Free Times, Greenville Metromix, The Daily Gamecock, The Garnet and Black, SGTV and this site, of course) throughout the course of the year was exciting and motivating.
Jettison Never’d – At the end of February, we played a show with Nashville rock trio Jettison Never at The Watershed in Lexington. Since we were the local act, we were slated to headline that night but hadn’t put much practice in that week. Jettison Never, on the other hand, plays somewhere around 200 gigs a year and is one of the tightest bands we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with. They ended up rocking our collective socks, underwear and outer facial epidermis off and intimidating the hell out of us before we took the stage. According to people who were there, we played a great show and at least met the bar those guys set, but we knew deep down that they smoked us. We tipped our hats to them for being an awesome live act and took it as a lesson to practice more often/better and make sure that never happened again.
The interwebs – Tired of just giving people links to our Facebook and Myspace pages, Trey and I set out to create an official kemp ridley website sometime in late March. After a couple solid days of hashing through design templates and messing around with Photoshop, we were able to turn the site into something we could be proud of. Thanks go out to the fine people at wordpress.com for hosting our endeavor. At the end of the September we got the urge to put out some free, previously unreleased music, so we started a Bandcamp. Check it out and get yourself a couple free tracks.
Merch and such – After kicking around ideas for what seemed like an eternity, we settled on designs for our first run of T-shirts and stickers, embracing the turtle that is our namesake, and created a functioning webstore to accompany our website. Response has been positive so far. Still waiting for a day we see someone we don’t know personally wearing a shirt or driving on the highway with our sticker on the back of their car.
Festivals – We found ourselves playing a lot more higher caliber gigs in 2011, many of them of the festival variety. We had the honor of taking the stage as a part of both Downtown Alive! in June and Fall for Greenville in October in the beautiful city of Greenville, determining after the latter gig that we’d love to relocate there after college if at all possible. Columbia natives and South Carolina music heroes Hootie and the Blowfish were kind enough to include us on the bill for their Homegrown Weekend festival in Charleston in August; the fact that they even knew who we were blew us away. And of course, our home turf of Columbia was better to us than we ever could’ve imagined. We established a good relationship with Art Bar, playing there for their 7th Anniversary party in July, on their outside stage at the Free Times Music Crawl (our favorite music event ever) and headlining there in November. That last show was literally the most fun we’ve ever had on stage playing music.
Kickstarter/recording – Scattered throughout all of these other events, we somehow found time to write new music. After we’d compiled around ten new tunes since the release of the EP, we decided to sack up and take a shot at making a new record. We started a Kickstarter campaign, spearheaded by some eccentric videos that we had far too much fun filming and editing, and hoped to raise $3,000 in support of the new EP/album between late September and Thanksgiving Day. We still can’t believe we met our goal and are extremely grateful to all those who donated and shared our project with others. The week before Christmas, we began recording with Eric McCoy of Archer Avenue Studio and have finished tracking drums and bass to this point.
After compiling that list, I can barely wrap my head around how good 2011 was to us. Thanks to everyone who has ever supported us in any way; without you, we wouldn’t have been able to do any of this. To you, I propose a toast – to the great year that was and even better years ahead.
– Cam Powell and kemp ridley