When it comes to songwriting, it’s good to be prolific, and Michael Venutolo-Mantovani is – but the catch is he doesn’t exactly have control of when the songwriting bug hits.
“The flood hits and I’ll write 10, 20, 30, even 40 songs all at once,” Mantovani says. “Then the spigot turns off and I won’t write again for two or three years. That happened during the virus lockdown, and I wrote 10 songs in about two days. At first I thought that would be fodder for my next record, whenever things go back to normal. Then the next thought was, ‘Screw that, let’s try to help some people.’”
The result is The Suah Sounds Co-Isolation Sessions, a compilation that Mantovani’s Chapel Hill-based record label Suah Sounds is releasing digitally through Bandcamp on June 5th. It’s a fund-raiser for the NC Community Bail Fund of Durham, selected because it provides aid for people in need of it due to recent protests.
Mantovani worked up arrangements for each song and recorded most of the basic tracks himself. Then he enlisted various acts from his circle to contribute vocals, including The Old Ceremony frontman Django Haskins, Al Riggs, Jphono1, and S.E. Ward.
“I basically threw darts and made the selection parings kinda random because that’s often when I get the best results,” Mantovani says. “There was no thematic direction and the only thing I required was vocals. If anybody wanted to add extra guitar or percussion, I told them to go for it: ‘Here’s the tune, go play in the sandbox. I don’t care what you do, just make it sound cool.’”
Everyone involved worked for free, including out-of-town engineers and artists from as far away as New York City and Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In the interests of maximizing how much the project raises, Mantovani is encouraging people to purchase it on the day of release, June 5th. Bandcamp waives all its fees the first Friday of each month, so that means 100 percent of June 5 sales will go to the cause.
Listen to a preview of The Co-Isolation Sessions from Suah Sounds:
While we’re on the subject of music-industry crowd-funding efforts, numerous live-music institutions across Orange County currently have fund-raising campaigns going on. Depending on how long the virus crisis lingers, they’re all probably going to need help to reopen. So if you want them to be there on the other side of this shutdown, please consider donating to any of the following:
- Cat’s Cradle, legendary nightspot in Carrboro that marked its 50-year anniversary earlier this year
- Local 506, another long-lived club on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street
- The Cave, the subterranean Franklin Street club that survived a close call two years ago
- Nightlight on Rosemary Street, site of an earlier incarnation of the Cradle
- The Kraken, where Jonathan Byrd & His Pickup Cowboys hold forth online every Wednesday
- The Station in Carrboro, noted as the first club the band R.E.M. played outside Athens, Ga., four decades ago (linked fund-raiser is for staff who can’t work during the shutdown).