For the release of his band’s debut album, Asa Kurland wanted to give back to the community that had nurtured him.
So, instead of paying for a fresh copy of the Slow Lights LP at the album release show Saturday at The 8×10, fans will instead give something Kurland thinks is much more valuable: participation.
“[The album] is not for sale,” he said. “It’s basically for your time and for your community.”
Kurland has partnered up with the nonpartisan group HeadCount, which partners with musicians on voter registration drives and other programs. The group has worked with The 8×10 in the past, setting up tables at their Wednesday night residency concerts and registering people to vote before the 2016 election, said Baltimore team leader Ben Marks. Starting this month, the group has been out at the venue once more, this time trying to harness people’s post-election energy and channel it into issues they care about, particularly on the local level.
At this show, HeadCount will have a table set up and as people come to claim a copy of the Slow Lights LP, they’ll also be asked to participate in some sort of action, whether that’s signing up for text alerts from HeadCount, connecting with a local nonprofit that needs volunteers, writing a postcard to their elected official on an issue they care about or other action.
“That’s where it begins,” Marks said. “That’s really when the tide turns and people find their voice. It’s that first action.”
Concerts are already events with huge amounts of energy and people who are engaged enough in the community to be there, making them a perfect place to meet people where they are and help them get involved, Marks said. Kurland had attended one of these previous events at The 8×10 and decided he wanted to go a step further.
“We’re really thrilled that Asa was really able to connect the dots and use his voice to keep other people engaged,” Marks said.
Kurland said he was going through a bit of a rough time six months ago and realized not everyone in Baltimore is so lucky to have a supportive surrounding environment. The arts community is strong, he added, and he wants to help direct its focus to the larger community.
“I know that the idea of this is bigger than me making money,” he said. “I want others to be able to help and empower themselves.”
The album itself was written by Kurland. The band’s website describes it as having a “soulful sound with a mix of rock and roll, funky rhythms and the feel of an old-school big band.” From the songs the JT heard, the album certainly lives up to those influences.
This release show is meant to embody the band’s tagline, which is “original music, with purpose.” Listening to the completed album now is like “hanging out with old friends,” Kurland said.
In the end, Kurland said he wants to be able to look back not at how much money he made, but what he did for the community. And if the good cause isn’t enough, come out for the local, live music on a Saturday night in Federal Hill.
“It’s going to be a big old party,” said Kurland.