The Story of Cucumbers & Gin

This all started when we launched the Kickstarter campaign just before Thanksgiving in 2010. Actually it started well before that when I had a long train ride home. I decided to sketch out a flashy solo piece for Sean, my room-mate at the time. I wrote pages of manuscript, a full draft, without testing any of the harmonies or motives. I got home, and Sean was on the couch. “Here” I said, “I wrote this for you.” Then I went out for pizza. As I was chewing I realized that a lot of what I’d written was kind of terrible. So I ran home and asked Sean for the draft back. He was nice about it, but he knew it needed work. It took me another couple months of composing to finish it for real.

Fast forward to 2010. I’m in the car on the way to Thanksgiving, and triple checking the Kickstarter campaign I’m about to launch as my phone runs out of batteries. We get to my grandmother’s house and watch the sunset out her window as I press the launch button, publish this blog post, and before even my mother could get to the computer, Ken Ueno stepped in as our first backer:

Cucumbers and Gin: Kickstarter Project is a go!

Cucumbers & Gin just kicked off its fundraising period – we’re finishing on Christmas Eve, and with your help we’ll be able to make a great recording and performance film.

Once we were live I started e-mailing nearly everyone I know. A Kickstarter campaign is a difficult thing to manage. You’re just trying to make your art and you have to go up to the people who you care about most, who you least want to alienate, and ask them for money. It’s a difficult thing to do. But when you’re done, it turns out it isn’t awkward. It turns out you have something everyone, backers and creators alike, can be proud of. Anyway, before long we were featured on the front page of Kickstarter:

Front Page of Kickstarter!

There we are! Right on the front! Cucumbers and Gin made the front page! When a project makes the front page of Kickstarter it’s a huge help…

That helped, and brought a lot of attention to the project from people who wouldn’t have heard about it otherwise. And pretty quickly after that:

Cucumbers and Gin met its goal.

You may have seen my post on Twitter late last night, but this big news of the day is that Cucumbers and Gin…

At the same time that Cucumbers & Gin was active on Kickstarter, a lot of other Peabody projects were live, including some I’d helped work on. All of them were eventually successful:

Peabody’s all over Kickstarter

And that means either that we’re a bunch of clever musicians on the leading edge of the new creative economy, or that we’re all desperately in need of cash. One of those two.

Leading up to the completion of our campaign, I couldn’t resist a terribly unfunny pop music reference:
The project was successfully funded, and after the holidays I began working with Alan Jeffries, Sean-David Cunningham, and Zachary Herchen and the rest of the production team to find a location, schedule a shoot, and design the production. After being invited to record the piece and shoot our film in the beautiful apartment of Wes Clark and Maxine Rockoff, after Alan built his crew of brilliant and dedicated filmmakers, and after negotiating the equipment rental houses with credit holds and pick-up schedules, we were ready to go. These three blog posts take you right through the recording session itself:

Final preparations for Cucumbers and Gin

We’re recording on Saturday. Sean and I are rehearsing every couple of days, and putting the finishing touches on his performance. If I could focus only on that, this would be easy.

It’s game day.

I just posted an update on Kickstarter about how today is the day. We’re filming, we’re recording, and we’ve got well over half a ton of stuff if you count the people.

A huge thank you

To Sean for his performance, to Zach for his recording, to Alan, Mike, Kate, Gill, Dave and Ben, our fantastically talented crew, to Gramps and Maxine for welcoming us into their home with all the gear and the noise and the interruption, and to all our backers on Kickstarter.

The shoot was amazing. Sean played wonderfully, and the production went off without a hitch. Afterwards came the detailed work of post-production. Zach sat with Sean and I to edit the recording of the piece itself. Alan used that recording as the basis for his editing. While that was going on I finished the cocktail recipes created for the backers of the project:

Cucumbers & Gin Cocktail Round-up

We’re done! We’ve created seven different custom cocktails each featuring cucumbers and gin for awesome our Kickstarter backers.

To accompany the film and the recording I used Noteflight to create a way for you to watch the score and the film at the same time, and created these few pages on my website to let you inside the process of creating this film. And in the summer of 2011, the film was ready to launch:

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