Monday, May 27, 2024

Lainey SchoolTree is a singer, producer, player of keyboards and the woman behind the prog-rocky, album-oriented band SchoolTree, now producing its first album. (Photo: Caleb Cole)

Lainey SchoolTree has something you may never have seen: A Kickstarter you read for fun.

Sure, she’s using it to pay for an album with her prog-rocky band SchoolTree, but she makes your donation (which must be made by June 23) go down easy. As a comedian skilled in the blog and burlesque forms — the latter as half of The Steamy Bohemians — SchoolTree the woman has puns labeling her prize levels and a ridiculously witty introductory plea. (Her separate “Lainey Rules: The awesome blog of Lainey SchoolTree” lands a little more on the earnest side, despite the title.)

“Basically I’m knocked up with a music baby, and I need to bring this sucker to term and deliver it,” SchoolTree wrote. But, in a section far enough away that she can get away with using a different metaphor: “But like Frodo and the One Ring, we’re only at the gates of Moria, and there’s a long way fraught with peril to get to Mount Doom … We need your help to get there and save Middle Earth! I mean make this album.”

While she’s been performing and producing others’ works, as well as working on the Bent Wit Cabaret performing regularly at Harvard Square’s Oberon, she said she realized that “ultimately it’s all been procrastination, because … the thing that I’ve yearned for relentlessly every livelong day as long as I can remember was to have my own band” and put out an album — now called “Save the World.”

In search of the crowdsourced $8,500 to pay for recording sessions, mastering, eco-friendly album packaging, distribution and such, SchoolTree has set up donor levels from $1 to $1,500, with some very funny and creative prizes in between. While for a dollar you get one free song download from the upcoming album and can “pick a word and for that day, every time Lainey hears it, she will scream real loud,” at upper tiers you get one-hour lessons with her or the band’s other musicians (in music, sure, but you could also choose life lessons, hair styling or advice on how to be a badass); an original song written about you or the subject of your choice in the style of your choice, or a song you have written produced by SchoolTree — who is a painstaking, professional producer — “complete with arrangement, production, and mixing, deliverable in the audio format of your choosing”; or concerts, ranging from a 15-minute Skype concert to a longer performance at your house by the full band. (This is at the $1,500 level.)

Along the way there are also opportunities to get Photoshopped into a picture with Lainey SchoolTree; get a cover song sung by a cat, chicken or other animal in three-part harmony; for a mere $100, “Lainey will don her unicorn princess costume and take you with her on a magical journey, which we’ll film and put up on youtube”; and a donation of $1,000 or more “includes a dinner date with SchoolTree. We’ll make your favorite food, hang out with you, talk about how attractive you are, get drunk and maybe even have a jam sesh.”

This helped get the attention of the Spinning Platters website, based in San Francisco, which has taken note of SchoolTree’s efforts in a post called “Amanda Palmer Has Enough Money: Here’s 5 Music Kickstarters to Support Now”:

Look, we’re huge fans of Amanda Palmer here at Spinning Platters, and we’re all very happy that she’s made over a million dollars on her Kickstarter page. That’s fantastic; I hope she spends it wisely.

But enough is enough. There are many other artists looking for money to help with their musical aspirations, and they’re not going to get there without a little boost. So please, stop giving your money to Amanda Palmer, and start giving it to these talented folks.

“You like Amanda Palmer because she’s a woman living in Boston playing piano and singing?” asks the writer, Gordon Elgart. “I’ll give you a woman in Boston playing piano and signing. Her name is Lainey SchoolTree.”

(The band is more than piano, though. SchoolTree cites her influences as being the album-oriented rock of the 1970s such as ELO, King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Kate Bush and Yes and says she wants to pick up where the genre left off — which makes the music of SchoolTree harder to categorize. “The songwriting has one foot in the classical world … and the other in the realm of two-fisted rock ’n’ bloody roll, mate,” she said. “If I had a third foot, I guess you could say it was firmly planted in pop — I love a succinct, well-crafted and catchy tune. I think all these elements can coexist.”)

SchoolTree said she is excited about the music her band has already recorded, but wants to get it out in a format that does it justice. In producing the Steamy Bohemians album and others she’s proven you can make an album to a high standard on a comparatively small budget. But the comparatively small budget for “Save the World” is $8,500.

“To make an album, you need some money. This is the sucky truth,” SchoolTree said. “By contributing to this album, you are becoming our record label.”