Jubal Dalzell has been working at Charlemagne Record Exchange in Five Points South for seven years. Now, he says, it’s time for him to release a record of his own.
Dalzell, who has been performing his Americana-inspired folk tunes in Birmingham for over 20 years as “Jubal John,” entered the studio last year to begin work on his debut album. The sessions were productive, Dalzell says.
“We got about 10 songs recorded,” he said. “[The album] is about 70 to 80 percent done.”
Complications arose in the final stretch of making the album, however. Dalzell found himself sidelined by six different surgeries on his foot, which did not help with the costliness of renting studio time or paying session musicians.
“Every time we get started on it, I get thrown off my balance,” Dalzell said. “I’m just trying to get to the finish line.”
Dalzell’s efforts to finish the album were invigorated by the Alys Stephens Center’s “Make Music Alabama” contest. His submission, a collaboration with DJ Supreme called “Churches,” didn’t win — “I guess it was too controversial or something, I don’t know,” Dalzell laughed — but it did provide him with “an impetus to get that song done by a certain deadline,” which further fueled his desire to finish the full-length album.
Dalzell has started an Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund the completion of the record, which he says will involve finishing the remaining 20 percent of the album, mastering that album, and arranging a physical release. As of this writing, Dalzell has raised $382 of his $10,000 goal.
“It’s like getting blood from a turnip sometimes,” he said. “Most of my friends all have their own crowdfunding thing going on for their own projects [as well].”
Though the Indiegogo campaign is structured so that Dalzell will keep whatever money is raised by his deadline of June 23, as opposed to campaigns through websites like Kickstarter that return money to donors if the goal is not reached, he says he needs “at least several thousand dollars” to complete the album.
Though Dalzell recorded most of the instruments on the album so far himself (“The only person I really brought in was the drummer,” he said), he’s looking to hire more musicians to round out the album’s sound. Additionally, the mastering process will also be particularly costly, he says.
“Most people don’t realize, once the thing is recorded, that’s [only] half the battle,” Dalzell said. “Then you still have to get it mastered, so that it’ll sound professional.”
And then, of course, there’s his hope that he’ll be able to press the album on vinyl to find a place on Charlemagne’s shelves. “Hopefully we can do it on vinyl,” he said. “It’s pretty easy to put out a CD, but if you’re going to do something on vinyl that does take a little more money and effort.”
“It would be something we would carry here [at Charlemagne] once it’s all done,” he added.
The record would fit right in with Charlemagne’s collection, which features an expansive sampling of records from the 1960s and ‘70s. The influences that Dalzell says have contributed to his album are prominently featured on the store’s shelves. “I grew up on Elvis, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Elvis Costello,” he said. “All those things are thrown in there.”
Dalzell describes his music as “Americana with a British influence.”
“I don’t know what that is,” he added, laughing. “But most of [the songs] start from the acoustic guitar. The sound of the album is real organic.”
His collaboration with DJ Supreme was a recent development. The two first discussed collaborating at the Bottletree Farewell Fest at the end of March, but Dalzell says that the “more modern, more contemporary” edge that Supreme’s production lent to his music “is a new direction I’m heading towards.”
“We’re going to do some more tracks,” Dalzell added. “But that’s not exactly representative of the whole album.”
What Dalzell hopes to accomplish with the album, he says, isn’t to make money but instead to gather a niche group of listeners.
“A guy who really influenced me was Alejandro Escovedo,” he said, referring to the Texas-based singer-songwriter. “I met him a couple of years ago in this store and got to talk to him and hang out with him a little bit. What really struck me was that he’s only gotten better as he’s gotten older. He’s never going to be on the radio, he’s never going to be that type of artist. But every time he comes to town, he picks up a few more fans. He’s that kind of cult artist.”
“That’s really what I would hope for is just to be respected,” Dalzell continued. “I just want to be somebody that musicians will say, ‘Oh, that guy’s a good songwriter.’ If I was in it for the money, I would have gotten out a long time ago, man.”
“It’s sort of like one of my favorite movies, High Fidelity,” Dalzell added, referencing the 2000 comedy in which the destitute owner of a record store starts his own record label. “John Cusack is like, ‘I’m finally part of the matrix!’”
“That’s what I want,” Dalzell said, picking up a nearby record from a shelf, an early Bob Dylan album. “One of these of mine out there. Something tangible. So that’s what we’re working toward.”