Moved by the horrific Memorial Day murder of George Perry Floyd Jr. at the hands of four Minneapolis Police officers, Fort Lowell Records presents GROW: A Compilation in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter. The project, focused on Wilmington, North Carolina, is a response to the racial injustice continuously displayed by law enforcement across the United States of America. Friends of the formerly Tucson, Arizona-based label involved with GROW have donated their own talents to allow 100% of the sales from the record to endow the New Hanover County NAACP with working capital to help Fort Lowell’s newly adopted local community. GROW is an effort to help address the dire effects of racism in America.
A personally curated collection of regional artists, GROW arranges a sampling of the vast indie rock flair exhibited within The Port City. Both new and old, all embrace the alternative rock-n-roll sound that Fort Lowell Records promotes. As a direct reply to current affairs, Tracy Shedd (Teen-Beat Records) — once called the ‘Queen of Slowcore’ by Steve Leggett of AllMusic.com — poses the immediate question to the audience “Are you listening?” with her straightforward heartfelt opening track “Holding Space”. Also finding a home on GROW is an unreleased radio remix of The Rosebuds’ hit single, “Get Up Get Out” — from their album Night of the Furies (Merge Records, April 2007) — by producer Mark Saunders (The Cure, Neneh Cherry, Erasure). The tune, tailor-made for the mission of GROW but written in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, imagines an American future in which a popular uprising would not only be inevitable but necessary. Lyricist Kelly Crisp exhorts the “desperate crowds” to “get up, get out, and fill the streets… we need our friends everywhere.” Merge Records’ labelmates The Love Language were spurred by Fort Lowell Records’ invitation to hit the studio and document their previously written guitar-packed, power-pop anthem “Throwing Darts.” Team Player closes out GROW with a British Invasion-like ballad “Wake For You”, written about loss, love, and perseverance. It is sure to rouse all with lyrics like “The world ain’t coming back until I hear you sing.”
Delivering three never-before-heard compositions from previous recording sessions are Wilmington veterans Life of Saturdays — the former ensemble of New York Times Magazine author John Jeremiah Sullivan — The Majestic Twelve — the one-time moniker of Kenyata Sullivan (unrelated), organizer of Wilmington’s defunct WE Festival (as seen on MTV, 1996-2009) — and Summer Set (members of De La Noche) — an indie pop outfit who has been active beyond the Carolinas since 2001. Sean Thomas Gerard (of Onward, Soldiers) premiers a number from his to-be-released sophomore album, and making their official debut on GROW amongst resident peers are recently formed punk rock band Neon Belly. Hailing from eastern North Carolina, uniquely innovative songstress Pinky Verde, along with psychedelic surfer rock group Kicking Bird, both add newly written melodies while Lauds’ dreamy pop favorite “Don’t Mind” from last year receives a re-engineered overhaul from Grammy nominated Peerless Mastering (The Magnetic Fields, Numero Group, Stephen Malkmus) who sonically prepared all songs and with Golden Mastering’s (Calexico, Sharon Jones, Sonic Youth) vinyl lacquers.
Introduced by New Elements Gallery, artist James L Williams’ piece called “Persistence” takes center stage as the cover art for GROW. Meanwhile, Graphic Designer HeyTVM (Trevor Van Meter), also responsible for the name “GROW”, contributes a symbolic drawing of his own for the back of the jacket, and professional skateboarder / illustrator Chet Childress is highlighted on the Side-B center label of the vinyl record itself. ‘DREAMERS,’ children from the youth development organization DREAMS of Wilmington, express their own views of present-day inequality through poetry and sketches on the printed insert of GROW alongside liner notes written by Third Person Project, a documentary research group preserving the African-American newspaper The Daily Record, once thought to have been wiped out during the Wilmington Massacre of 1898.
Learn more about the Wilmington Massacre of 1898 here:
- The Truth Behind The Wilmington Massacre Of 1898 – WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
- The Lost History of an American Coup D’État – The Atlantic
- Wilmington on Fire Documentary Film – Amazon Prime, kweliTV, and Vimeo OnDemand
In addition, learn about the Wilmington Ten (1971) here.
With the support provided by all of the artists and businesses above, in conjunction with manufacturing partners NiPro Records (stampers), Imprint Indie Printing (jackets, inserts, labels), and Kindercore Vinyl (records, assembly), plus local sponsors Art In Bloom Gallery, ARTphics, Gravity Records, Modern Legend, and New Hanover County all costs associated with GROW were eliminated. In turn, all payments from the vinyl records sales plus the proceeds earned with each digital download and stream will become a permanent resource for North Carolina’s New Hanover County chapter of the NAACP to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
Backers from across the globe will be able to endorse GROW with any dollar amount they can manage. For the vinyl specifically, there will be a limited pressing of 1,000 records, and Fort Lowell Records will ask for a minimum donation of $30.00 USD per album. However, benefactors can give any sum of money that works for their own budget to obtain the digital download audio files and unlimited music streaming access for GROW through Bandcamp at fortlowell.bandcamp.com, which is also where orders for the vinyl records can be placed.
At its core, GROW is a collection of songs that Fort Lowell Records wanted to make available, because supplying the public with music is what they do. However, they acknowledge the platform their company is fortunate to have. Paired with Fort Lowell Records’ own desire to be an ally in the fight towards a more equitable society, their label affords them the opportunity to release GROW and enable their business partners, other advocates and patrons to exercise their own individual alliance with the Black Lives Matter movement and collectively create a positive impact towards justice.
This is their voice.