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Kick-starting his career

Wyoming musician Luke Bell turns to online service to help fuel his career

Luke Bell decided his music needed a kick start.

So the 23-year-old Wyoming musician is using Kickstarter to help him record his second album.

According to its website, “Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.”

Bell will kick off the Kickstarter effort at The Chamberlin Inn, 1032 12th St. in Cody from 4-6 p.m. Saturday. Admission for the “No Dough Medicine Show” is $10 for adults, $5 for children. Anyone who has made a Kickstarter donation to Bell will be admitted for free.

He said he was reluctant to use the online fundraiser.

“I was originally against the idea of doing a Kickstarter, but the music industry is hard right now and the record label companies have changed,” Bell said during an online exchange with the Tribune. “A feller doesn’t just get picked up and put on the wax anymore. I think mostly, recording labels look for folks who already have a plan, a record, and a sound hammered out. So, we as artists have to find ways to raise our own money and get our own show on the road.”

The service charges a 5 percent fee if the effort is successful. He said he is not alone among musicians he knows and admires in choosing Kickstarter as a means to raise money.

“I know several other bands and friends that have successfully used Kickstarter — The Longtime Goners, The Deslondes, The Crow Quill Night Owls,” Bell said. “I am shooting for $10,000. This should cover the actual recording, hiring musicians, mixing, mastering and hopefully artwork and pressing. It will be recorded at The Bomb Shelter Studio in Nashville.”

He has been playing some local shows, including a performance at Powell on Aug. 25 during the inaugural Powell Arts Festival. Bell is also working at an area ranch before he heads to Nashville.

He will then hit the road in his 1995 Buick LeSabre with a trunk full of carpentry tools and his beloved guitar for some “traveling” and to play some shows, which has been a major part of his life for the past two years.

According to his website, Bell was “a troubled teenager” while growing up in Cody. He said he was “a clown, poor student and social oddball” who sought solace in music, spending his time listening to folksingers Woody Guthrie, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.

“He spent his summers living and working on his grandparent’s ranch,” his online biography states. “Without Internet, cellphones or television, he picked on his guitar and sorted through grandpa’s basement record collection of country classics like Jim Reeves, Hank Snow, Hank Williams, and others.”

Soon, Bell starting writing his own songs, and then decided to take to the stage to perform them. He often performed at the Buckhorn Bar in Laramie.

“At the Buck’s Sunday Pickin’ Circle amongst the musicians, cheap beer, barmaids, cowboys, and wild game mounts the aspiring songwriter felt at home. Underage and armed with a homemade Canadian ID, Bell booked himself gigs in the Laramie bars,” according to the website. “Often these events ended in ejection for unruly behavior or suspicion of the Canadian ID laminated to an old gift card. But, relentless in his love for music, cheap beer and a good spotlight, Bell sang on.”

He moved to Austin, Texas on Jan. 29, 2011, two days after he turned 21. In 2012 he released his debut album, “Luke Bell.”

Bell said he has many influences.

“All of my friends from Wyoming, Austin, New Orleans and in between,” he said. “The cowboys, hobos, workers, travelers and those who are kind and accepting of other human beings. And, the classics — Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and lots of old jug band, bluegrass, old time, and blues songs.”

His goal right now is to keep writing songs, performing and recording. Bell said he doesn’t know why he chooses to remain in show business, or how long he will keep at it.

“I’m not sure of either,” he said. “But, I love certain sounds a fiddle and a guitar will make together, or a pedal steel behind a great voice. Music is a very big emotional outlet for me I think, and will always be.

“My music is roots music, specifically American roots music,” Bell said. “I write songs about where I’m from, where I’ve been, people I’ve met, jobs I’ve had, lovers I’ve lost or left, and other things I consider important.”

To support Bell, go to www.kickstarter.com starting Saturday night and search for Luke Bell to make a donation. To learn more about Bell and his music, go to http://www.lukebellmusic.com.

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