Fort Collins band SHEL reaches goal through PledgeMusic

The four sisters of Fort Collins band SHEL. The group has successfully raised enough money for finish the work on their debut album, to be released in August.
The four sisters of Fort Collins band SHEL. The group has successfully raised enough money for finish the work on their debut album, to be released in August.

When a band goes independent, unexpected expenses pop up.

“It comes with the territory,” said Hannah Holbrook, keyboardist and vocalist for local band SHEL, in an email.

In 2005, the four Holbrook sisters combined their musical talents­­— and the first letter of each of their names— to form SHEL, a folk band from their hometown of Fort Collins.

While recording their debut album this year, the sisters were faced with the foreseen challenge of raising the money needed to finish their work.

“We knew we would need additional funds to finish it and release it,” said lead vocalist, writer and mandolinist Eva Holbrook in an email. “We met the folks who started [PledgeMusic] at a conference and thought the concept sounded awesome.”

Launched in August of 2009, www.PledgeMusic.com is a “fan-funded” pledging system where both established and aspiring musicians can start a campaign to raise money for projects they’re working on.

“We really liked what PledgeMusic was doing and how they encouraged giving to a charity,” said Sarah Holbrook, violinist, videographer and graphic designer for the band, in an email.

With 18 days still left of SHEL’s PledgeMusic campaign, more than 310 pledgers have helped them reach 111% of their goal. Depending on the amount donated, fans can receive such things as homemade chocolate chip cookies, a custom top hat, signed poster or a download of the album.

“We enjoy making crafty things and giving them to friends,” percussionist Liza Holbrook said in an email, “so we thought it sounded like fun to offer more unique handmade merchandise for the Pledge campaign.”

Now with enough money to finish their self-titled debut, the sisters are looking forward to releasing it to their fans.

“We wanted to make the most widely expressive album possible,” Eva Holbrook said in an email. “As a result there are songs laced with classical influence and fleshed out with orchestration…rambling songs with fiddle and banjolin…celtic adventure themes…tribal war songs with raging drums… soft stripped down personal ballads… We wanted to give our listeners an album full of experiences.”

With the release date set for August 7th, SHEL has plans to tour outside of Colorado in support of the album.

“We just got back from Nashville, TN,” Hannah Holbrook said in an email. “Before that, we were on the East Coast and in Chicago. We’ll be traveling coast to coast July-September for our album release.”

Before taking off on tour, SHEL is playing a few shows in town, including the Estes Park July 4 Celebration at the Stanley Fairgrounds.

Until the album’s release, SHEL is still accepting pledges from fans for needed financial help.

“I think [the album] is our way of introducing ourselves and saying ‘HELLO WORLD! It’s nice to meet ya,’” Liza Holbrook said in an email. “It will lift you up, make you wonder and possibly spin you around! — At least that’s what it does to me.”

[Below: SHEL performing ‘When the Dragon Came Down’]