After a Promising Start, a Rough 2016 Has Cait Brennan Back in the Crowdfunding Game

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Singer-songwriter Cait Brennan’s first crowdfunding campaign, created to cover some of the costs for Debutante (her debut album, released last January), was all sweetness and light.

Contrast that to her new GoFundMe campaign where, Brennan says, “I look like Nixon resigning.”

2016 has not been the year Brennan had hoped. For one, her health has unexpectedly taken a downward turn, as her Parkinson’s disease has suddenly worsened. Second, the Sire/Warner Brothers demo deal Brennan signed in June, instigated by Seymour Stein, the legendary record executive that signed the Ramones, the Talking Heads, the Pretenders, and Madonna, didn’t pan out.

“We had real good demos for Sire. James King from Fitz and the Tantrums played on them. We had my producer, Fernando Perdomo, and Andy Paley co-producing. We sent them off, and Seymour Stein called and said, ‘This is great stuff. I hear lots of hits. We’re signing you right away,’” Brennan says. “Great. Uncork the champagne. That day rolls around, and we get a call saying, ‘We’re not going to sign you.’”

Although the reason the deal fell through remains a mystery (New Times was unable to reach Sire Records for a comment before press time), the Sire deal was validation for what Brennan was doing artistically. She is now negotiating with her lawyer to buy back to the rights to those Sire demos so she can take them to other interested parties. The good news that there is interest, albeit of a more independent nature. And Brennan has a second album, Introducing The Breakdown According to Cait Brennan, already in the can.

Seeing how slowly the wheels turn in the major-label world was definitely an impediment for Brennan, already racing against the clock trying to outrun the acceleration of her Parkinson’s disease. Her fear is that the disease might soon rob her of the ability to sing and play guitar entirely. She already has stopped playing guitar live.

“It would have been great had the Sire thing [happened], but now, it’s up to me to take things forward from here while I can,” Brennan says. “The frustrating thing about Parkinson’s is that it’s tough to diagnose, and there are several similar things in the neighborhood of that diagnosis that are even worse, believe it or not ... Unfortunately, I’ve been struggling with some of those symptoms lately, and there’s a bunch of testing and doctors and rehab stuff coming in the new year to try and figure out what’s up.”

Hence the rush to record a third album at the world-famous Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, where Big Star recorded its entire output and everyone from Bob Dylan to the White Stripes has laid down tracks.

This past August, Brennan scored some passes for an Ardent 50th-anniversary event at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where she met Ardent engineer Adam Hill and Ardent Studios head (and former Big Star drummer) Jody Stephens. The studio offered her a sweetheart deal for 30 hours of Memphis recording time. Brennan couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“In some ways, this little mini-tour back east and then the trip to Ardent feels like a little bit of a last hurrah, or at least the closing of one chapter,” Brennan says.

And given her health issues, it’s unclear just how much time she has left before they rob her of the ability to record music altogether. Although her pledge drive video forGoFundMe plays like a 10-minute soap opera of twists and turns that details her story, donations went over the halfway mark of the $3,000 goal in six days.

Visit Cait Brennan’s GoFundMe page.

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