Half-Handed CloudWelcome to Day 9 of “Intro to Indie Music!” As we near the end of this two-week segment looking at what exactly indie music is, I hope you’ve been having a fun time.  I know I have.

Well, before you get all choked up that the series will be over soon, check out some of the recognition we’ve been getting here at The Blah Blah: The Man of Steel did a post on us here, Provocate quoted us here, and The Original Mud Puppy added us to their blogroll!  Some day, I won’t be excited when we have three mentions of us in the real world, but that day has not yet come, so now I will be excited about it.

Alright, with that aside, on to the music!

Characteristics of Indie Music
1. It must be on an independent label (see here)
2. It’s about the music (see here)
3. Lo-fi good, over-production bad (see here)
4. A do-it-yourself attitude (see here)
5. Pushing musical boundaries (see here)
6. An anti-materialistic attitude (see here)
7. Social awareness and activism (see here)
8. The un-rockstar (see here)

And today…
9. A sense of community

Sidenote: You might notice that I changed my list method from parentheses to periods (ie. instead of 1) I put 1.).  This is because WordPress for some reason changes my eighth point from an 8 with a ) after it into a smiling face.  I don’t know why and I don’t know how to stop it.  I am being over-run by smiling faces, and this makes me very un-smiling.  Anyway, if you know how to turn that delightful “feature” off, let me know.

OK, back to the important stuff.  Within the indie music scene, there is a strong sense of community.  Bands, labels, and fans will help each other out.  Musicians will play on each other’s albums.  They’ll share equipment.  They’ll promote each other.  Fans will pass out posters and flyers for shows or design buttons or patches to give away.  There’s just an overall feeling of community, love, fun, and mutual cooperation and support, without so much of the competition and we-will-crush-you attitude you get in the world of big label music.

Some musicians share common goals, like the Psalters and Aimee Wilson, who herself has designed The Porchfront Factory as a community of artists.  Others frequently tour together, like Denison WitmerSufjan Stevens, and Karen Peris of The Innocence Mission.  Others work on each-other’s albums, like our band today, who is the trombonist for Sufjan Stevens and has worked on numerous other albums to help friends out. 

Half-Handed Cloud is a great example of this ever-present community feeling.  Enjoy these MP3s:
Can’t Even Breathe
I Got a Letter

Half-Handed Cloud is John Ringhofer and occasional friends.  On his MySpace, he lists the following as his occasional helper friends: Brandon Buckner, Wendy Buckner, Justin Vollmar, Nathan Vollmar, Yoni Wolf, Nedelle Torrisi, Chris Cohen, Sufjan Stevens, Gabe Saucedo, John Benson, Mindy Myers, Joel Pickell, Ryan Pickell, Bert Hiscock, Josiah Wolf, Wendy Campbell, Eric Buckner, and many others who sing in the group vocal sections & Stomp/Clap sesssions.  I hope you didn’t read the whole list.  I just wanted to put it all in here to show that this guy’s got a lot of friends who have helped him out on records.

There’s a real sense of community with Half-Handed Cloud.  He’s on Asthmatic Kitty Records, but Sounds Familyre also has a page for him.  How does this work?  I don’t know.  He has helped a number of friends produce albums.  He is the trombonist for Sufjan Stevens.  And he’s done his own solo stuff, where he includes a zillion friends on his recordings.  He’s upbeat, positive, and full of good feelings towards everybody.

There you have it.  Now go home and get ready for tomorrow and the conclusion to “Intro to Indie Music.”  Send me any questions, comments, or disagreements you have with my idea of what indie music is.  I’d like to get input from everybody else out there as well.

Half-Handed Cloud Official Links
Purchase MP3s on iTunes
Purchase CDs on Amazon

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