Six months in, seven grants awarded

Howlin’ Dog Music Group is making it happen

ALAMOSA — Just six months after introducing themselves and their purpose to the public, Howlin’ Dog Music Group (HDMG) — the Alamosa based, one-of-a-kind non-profit devoted to “keeping music alive,” and helping highly gifted artists get their music out into the world — has just completed their first grant cycle. Seven artists coming from Colorado, New Mexico and Texas were recently awarded grants ranging from $2,500 to $3,000.

“The artists will be using the grant funding to record music,” says Teri McCartney, who manages operations for the non-profit and is one of its co-founders. “Some will be recording here [at Howlin’ Dog Studios] and others in recording studios in other places. The awards aren’t enough to completely fund a recording, but they give the artists a pretty good start.”

The grant recipients are separated into three categories — Developing, Professional/Working and Legacy — but their profiles reveal a very diverse group of artists, ranging from those in the first stages of their careers to a seasoned, well-known artist who defines the word legendary. And each comes with a very unique story to tell.

Nicole Haworth, a Taos native, uses her lyrics to speak of her life. “I live nestled among the old growth trees, 8,000ft above the seas…”

Megan Clarisse Cave of Denver whose diagnosis of breast cancer at the age of 37 “propelled me even farther into music. I just really started to feel like it’s now or never.”

Lisa Kori Chung of Santa Fe whose discovery of the travails of her ancestors who immigrated to the U.S. inspired her album, “Daughter of the West”, based on imagining if the music of Chinese and Japanese workers naturally became part of the mix of influences of American music.

Michael O’Connor of Texas who’s been performing for almost 40 of the 60 years he’s been alive, including as a lead guitarist with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Slaid Cleaves, Susan Gibson and dozens more. “I show up on time, in tune. I love making music,” he writes.

Erin Ivey of Austin, who had the entire upper lobe of her left lung just a few months ago, is now learning to sing again with a new voice and a new perspective and has found that playing Native American wooden flute music makes sounds that heal body and soul.

Jana Pochop of Albuquerque is working with friends so that each new single of her music will be produced with its own artwork and video.

And finally, Shake Russell of Spring, Texas, well-known and much beloved by followers, tells his story in a straightforward way. “I came to Texas in 1972 with John Vandiver and The Ewing Street Times, played with him for a few years, then started my own bands. I have been playing and writing music in Texas for 52 years now.” Russell, who’s been the subject of numerous accolades including being inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame, recently had his newest song recorded by Miranda Lambert.

From its inception, HDMG has been both visionary and practical. No other group, non-profit or otherwise, is solely devoted to providing support to artists so that, eventually and with a lot of hard work, those artists may actually be able to work at doing what they love. Those who are on the board and guiding these efforts understand – first hand – what’s involved. They recognize it’s a lofty goal.

At the same time, they realize that there is “power in the collective,” and have created a model where, for just $25 a month, “patrons,” can know they’re doing their part in making sure troubadours will continue into the future.

To date, HDMG already has 73 patrons, not counting those individuals making one time donations that range from smaller amounts to donations in the thousands. They’re hoping to have 100 patrons by the fall, which would make a second grant cycle possible this year.

And in exchange for their support, patrons will receive MP3s of the recordings the grant recipients produce.

By awarding these grants to artists across such a broad spectrum of experience, HDMG is doing precisely what the group of professional artists, experts in the music business and supporters of up and coming artists intended to do: offer a helping hand to artists who are trying to negotiate, “an ever-changing landscape that requires new methods and capabilities,” to be able to continue to work and share their music with the thousands of new and long-time listeners.

Seven grants after just being around for six months?  Looks like a sign of real good things to come.

Anyone with questions or the interest in becoming a patron are encouraged to go to HDMG’s website where contact information can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the page.