Longmont-based singer-songwriter Kyle Donovan raised more than $20,000 to fund the production of his latest album “Then and Now.” The entrepreneurial folk singer, who has spent most of his summer on the road, will celebrate the release of his current nine-song offering with a full-band show at Boulder’s eTown Hall on Thursday. Also on the bill will be local Rocky Mountain country-soul favorites Bonnie and the Clydes.
“I knew going into the Kickstarter campaign that it was a lofty goal — but my community convinced me that it was possible,” said Donovan. “Seeing other artists succeed in crowdfunding campaigns gave me the courage to try my hand at it, too. The fundraising itself was grueling, mostly because Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform.”
While Donovan often comes across as an eternal optimist, the creative admits to having doubts of securing funds early on.
“If I’m totally honest, the pressure that I put myself through at that time was suffocating — almost like being in a hot car before you have the chance to roll the windows down,” said Donovan. “When we finally crossed the finish line, the relief was palpable. I have a feeling that everyone around me was grateful to see it succeed, but even happier to see me come out of that phase.”
Monetary support came from ticket sales from local house concerts Donovan played throughout town. It also came from local donors and from a fan from the Pacific Northwest who offered up a large contribution and even brought Donovan out for an intimate Seattle show.
“In terms of the community effort, the generosity was totally stunning,” said Donovan.
He enlisted two-time Grammy nominated producer James Tuttle — a neighbor of his — to help shape his vision.
“One of the big lessons from my time with James is that less is often more,” said Donovan. “He told me a story about Quincy Jones producing Michael Jackson’s song ‘Billie Jean’— and how after 91 mixes, Quincy requested that the engineer, Bruce Swedien, replay mix No. 2. It sounded great, and they decided to put that mix on the record. That conversation helped to give me some perspective on the process of recording music, and it also helped in a practical way with the record; I ended up going back and using an early mix of one of my songs for ‘Then and Now,’ too.”
A multitude of local artists, including Bonnie and Taylor Sims, Monica Marie LaBonte of Monocle Band, Jason Bertone and Michelle Pietrafitta of Banshee Tree, Kate Farmer, Antonio Lopez, Colin Robison, Daniel Herman and Leor Manelis lent their talent to Donovan’s authentic release.
“The album is an exploration of universal emotions, told through a retrospective lens,” said Donovan, who undertook the recording, mixing and mastering of the album himself over the course of three years. “Some of its major themes are the passage of time, coming of age and the complex nature of love. Although the songs all draw from my personal experience, they all have a surreal nature to them — something that I hope makes them more interesting and relatable.”
While the venue of eTown is a favorite of Donovan’s, one he has played numerous times, this is the first time he will take the stage as one of the headliners.
“I’m looking forward to sharing the bill with Bonnie and the Clydes, who are wonderful friends and a huge inspiration,” said Donovan, who hosts an intimate concert series and podcast called The Songwriter Hour, at Still Cellars in Longmont. “I think they’ve done a great job of carving out a local following of friends and fans who sincerely love their music, while playing songs that are relatable and heartfelt. Bonnie is such a lightning rod on stage, she’s so much fun to watch when she’s really feeling the song’s message.”
At Thursday’s show, fans can expect the foot-stomping high-energy songs from Bonnie and the Clydes and the audience will also get a taste of another project. Commissioned by the city of Westminster to craft the score for the theatrical production “The Last Apple Tree,” by Boulder-based theater troupe the Catamounts, Bonnie Sims and her bandmates will likely treat attendees to the play’s final number.
“We love sharing the stage with Kyle, he is one of the most intentional and thoughtful humans I know, and an immensely talented musician,” said Bonnie Sims, who along with her husband Taylor Sims added instrumentation to Donovan’s song “Aftertaste.” “I am really looking forward to hearing his voice and lyrics in this setting. Kyle is best served with an attentive audience and as few auditory distractions as possible. eTown will be perfect.”
Bonnie and the Clydes have also been clocking hours in the studio. The band’s highly-anticipated fifth album is due out this fall.
“We haven’t officially named the new record yet, and we have a few more tunes we are real excited to put down so we can complete the project,” said Sims. “‘Hold On Me’ has been a fan favorite for years, and we’re really happy to finally offer it on this next record. Taylor wrote that song over 10 years ago and it just gets better the longer we sing it. It takes a really special kind of song to get better with age, and ‘Hold On Me’ has that kind of staying power. We’re glad to have it recorded now.”
If you go
What: Kyle Donovan album release party with Bonnie and the ClydesWhen: doors at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Thursday August 29Where: eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce St. BoulderCost: $22More info: etown.org/events/kyle-donovan-bonnie-and-the-clydes