Ever notice that while the main-stream, big artists are recording and getting popular attention, the independent musical artists are being lost in the background. As much as I enjoy the music of some of the big names, they tend to lose sight of the heart and soul of music. For independent musical artists it isn’t so much about the money as it is about sharing the love of music.
My Favorite Independent Musical Artists
Here are some of my favorite independent musical artists, arranged by general category. Some of these artists cross category boundaries, in this article I’ll only feature them in their primary category at the time of this writing.
Folk / Religious
I am lumping folk and religious into one category for this article, simply because a lot of true folk music is religion based. Besides, I didn’t have enough examples of religious performers and I wanted to highlight a couple.
Brian Henke came across my Facebook feed as a Celtic Folk artist. He has some delightful talent with the acoustic guitar, including a triple stem guitar that features a lap harp style stem – seen in his Tree of Life video.
A local public school music teacher and church music director, Jared Williams has contributed some wonderful music to his church and community. I shot the video I linked here, when I worked (volunteer) with him for a Christmas program at his church.
Philadelphia Ukulele Orchestra
This fun group wasn’t very easy to categorize, but folk is probably as close as I’m going to get with them. The Philadelphia Ukulele Orchestra is a group of musicians that enjoy this small stringed instrument and have a blast performing old-time songs.
Earlier this year, Wendy Rule released a music video for her beautiful song Eleusis from the album Persephone. I had the pleasure of meeting Wendy Rule at a spiritual retreat in 2019. She is genuinely a fun, kind woman.
New Age / Classical
Classical music by most people’s definition is the classics orchestrated/performed by Bach, Beethoven and more. As much as this is true, I argue that many New Age artists also fall under the Classical category. Whether it was a dead artist from a couple centuries ago, or a modern artist playing tomorrow, orchestra and piano of that same style should still be in that genre.
I was first introduced to New Age through a computer graphics video initiative called “The Mind’s Eye”. The video was a series of high quality computer animations set to New Age music. This introduce me to some great artists, and provided the path for discovering other artists.
Of all the New Age artists I enjoy, 2002 is my absolute favorite. This musical couple hit mainstream in the early 1990s with beautiful ambient instrumentals accented by dimensional vocal “instruments”. About 20 years later, they introduced their daughter in the programming, whereas the threesome elevated the heavenly music they produce.
David Lanz is one of the artists featured on The Minds Eye computer animated video that I mentioned earlier. At that time he recorded a lot of content with Paul Speer. David has performed a lot of solo content, as well as partnering with other artists.
I found Tim Dwyer (aka Off Land) on Kickstarter. I was one of his many backers for the Tidewater Pulse project. I’ve followed his music since. Off Land produces smooth, ambient music with gentle droning background.
Pop and Rock
Pop and Rock are grouped together, largely due to the fact that “Pop” is short for “Popular”. The difference between Pop and Rock depends on who you talk to, but for the most part they are the same thing – depending on what is more popular.
For clarity – I do not like Hard Rock, or Metal. This style of music is difficult for me to hear, and what I can hear often makes me feel angry.
Rich Cox is an artist which has a great genre range. His earlier music, prior 2000s, was hard rock and not my style, but as he matured so did his music. Rich has produced several tracks which would fall in the pop and rock range that I can appreciate.
This is another musical artist that I found on Kickstarter. Spring Owls presents a fusion of folk with pop music. Their hit “Harder than Diamonds” is a lovely ballad and a great example of modern fusion pop.
Country and Folk
This section is for my favorite independent artists that focus on the country and folk genre. Wait – two different Folk categories. These folk artists are more along the lines of Country than of religion focused.
I found Wood Belly on a crowd funding site. They have an easy going, yet upbeat acoustic country/folk sound. The album released as part of the crowd funding was Great Big Skies.
John Train is a Philadelphia artist that I discovered through a colleague that happens to be John’s drummer. John’s music is influence by classic country and folk artists, with some modern country twists.