My name is Maddy Walsh, and I’m the front person of Ithaca, New York based, nationally touring moxy rock band Maddy Walsh & The Blind Spots. I hope you’re all surviving these very tumultuous times in whatever ways you can. The band is embarking on this fundraising campaign in an effort to stay afloat during the pandemic and quarantine while we’re unable to perform live shows, but since we're all living in what I've heard described as a "pandemic within a pandemic" and the "fever dream" that is 2020, I want to first address the widespread financial need brought on not only by COVID-19 but by the recent murder of George Floyd and so many others at the hands of police officers. There are many organizations and fundraisers that can use your immediate support before you choose to support the arts (to support us), and here are the few I have personally donated to over the past couple months:
The Bail Project:
The Southside Community Center:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU):
The fund for Gianna Floyd, George Perry Floyd’s daughter:
Justice for Breonna Taylor:
This list is inexhaustible, and you can find so many more places to allocate your support for our BIPOC / PGM communities. Check out The Lit. Bar: Bookstore & Chill, a black-owned bookstore with a great selection; do the research and find your local black-owned businesses and, if you have it, support them with MONEY, not just shares on social media. Alongside you, I’m listening in and learning better ways to support and serve the Black Lives Matter movement and how to put the nail in the coffin of Systemic Racism in America. If you're lucky enough to still be working or to have received government assistance during this time, I urge you to throw your support there FIRST. And if you have more to give and want to support the arts, here’s a thorough [very long, sorry] description of what we’re trying to do to stay afloat.
In almost-twelve years as a band, The Blind Spots have remained self-funded and have never reached out to our fans in order to pay for recordings, videos, advertising, tours, or our tour vehicle. We have paid for everything we have by saving money from ticket sales and merchandise, and we would always prefer to do our job to make money. We actually took an early and pretty firm stance against crowd-sourcing at the onset of websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe because we feared that so many people trying to fund their artistic projects would over-saturate the market and over-burden potential donors, making them feel burnt out and unable to donate to campaigns to help, for example, cancer patients trying to cover chemo treatments; parents of disabled children in need a wheelchair ramp, and now, fundraisers like the one for George Floyd’s daughter.
*This is not a criticism of our fellow artists who have successfully crowd-sourced in order to fund their artistic endeavors; it was just a personal choice we made as a band, but it was also one we made before these platforms became more nuanced. Now artists are able to offer incentives for different levels of donations, which sometimes means simply pre-ordering the album a musician is trying to get funded; receiving merch packages; tickets or guest list slots to future shows, etc. By offering incentives, this platform feels less like we’re just asking for money, since there is an exchange.
I’ve wondered for years whether it’s the right thing to do to be honest and open with fans about our costs, because we’re in entertainment. I’m honored and take very seriously the fact that you spend your hard-earned money on our shows, albums, and merchandise; through the music you should be uplifted and transported temporarily away from everyday stresses. I’ve been afraid that once you know that behind the curtain there’s deeply distressing financial worry, it will take away from the magic of that experience for you, and I want your experience of our music to remain pure. But entertainers or not, we’re struggling beside you during these unprecedented times, so we’ve decided to reach out and let you know how you can help us.
After our instruments and music equipment, our van is the single most important tool we depend on in order to function. It hauls our gear in a trailer behind it, it’s how we get to the shows where we do what defines us and our business, and the shows themselves are what make us money to continue being a band. The van also makes up the largest part of our overhead. After a struggle straddling several months trying to get our last van repaired (details below), we purchased a new van in January, and now due to COVID-19, we cannot go on tour or play shows for the foreseeable future in order to make our monthly payments of $853 ($687/month on our loan and $175/month in insurance.)
Suave and I have put on a couple virtual performances since this quarantine began, and we’re grateful for every donation fans have made to the band for those concerts. (We’ll continue to do these kinds of things, but sitting in our living room, just the two of us, and playing to you through a screen isn’t the same. We have a band for a reason! We love the energy we can bring to a stage with a full five-piece. We miss it, and we miss you.) This effort is a more focused campaign, specifically aimed at easing the financial burden of having a new van that we just bought and now can’t use in order to go out and earn. We’re still not sure when it will be safe to play live again, and even once it’s declared relatively safe, possibly meaning we can gather for a show but should still wear masks and dance six feet apart, it may not feel the same for a long time. Also, with regard to touring, (which is the main reason to have a van and trailer), many shows are booked six to twelve months out, so once we’re in the clear, there will be an inevitable scheduling period before we can hit the road again. This all leaves us on very shaky ground.
The band’s entire financial burden will be lifted and our future will not be in jeopardy if:
23 people donate $2,000 each!
...or 46 people donate $1,000 each!
...or 91 people donate $500 each!
...or 182 people donate $250 each!
...or 302 people donate $150 each!
...or 454 people donate $100 each!
...or 907 people donate $50 each!
We’re offering various incentives for different donation levels, and we hugely appreciate any support you can offer to help us get this van paid off so we can rest easier while we’re waiting to be able to play music for you again.
$10: Any Blind Spots CD
$25: T-shirt (spring green with violet and cream MW&TBS logo)
$50: Merch Pack of all four CDs, two bumper stickers, & sunglasses
$150: Zoom-a-Gram! We'll learn a song of your choosing and set up a Zoom with you and a friend to play it for them live (virtually); or we can record it and send it to you to do with it whatever you please. We're happy to include a dedication.
$400: Wine Tour! You and up to four friends can be driven around Cayuga or Seneca Lake in said VAN from 11am to 5pm from winery to winery with members of MW&TBS as your drivers and chauffeurs.
*Please be flexible with your schedule; we want everyone to feel comfortable and safe, so this may have to wait until NYS has been given the green light to do things like this again.
$500: One-hour acoustic house concert.
*Again, please be flexible with the scheduling due to NYS social distancing recommendations.
$1,500: Full-On Moxy Rock Show at Your Place.
*Same scheduling request as above.
$5,000: Tickets for Life
(Guest list spots to any MW&TBS show, or any show of mine or Suave's for life.)
*We're happy to discuss other options with you if you have additional ideas, and if you have a local business that would like to donate, we could explore some cross-promotional opportunities ~ let's swap swag!
*We're also happy to share the saga of the van and why we're fundraising this strange number. The story is long and boring and annoying, but if you're donating and want to understand the whole picture, you're welcome to the nitty gritty details: https://www.theblindspots.com/index.php/damn-the-van
Again, please donate to any of the fundraisers and organizations I mentioned above before you donate to us. There are so many important ones, especially right now, so feel free to share here in the comments where you’re putting your support so other fanimals can see and learn from you. I personally don’t want to live in a world without art; bare-bones survival mode isn’t enough for me. Human beings are capable of creating such beauty in the face of tragedy, and that act of celebration is what makes us and our world worth fighting for. I’ve taken this time away from performing and seeing live shows to tie up years of loose ends, to plant gardens, and to reflect deeply on what is most important to me so that when we re-emerge from this time apart and gather again, I’ll bring my very best to our big family table, and to the stage too. I love you all. Thank you for being here with me.
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