Califone’s Tim Rutili Lends Support to Song+Stories Project, You Should Too

Independent radio artists Elizabeth Meister and Dan Collison are working with acclaimed Califone songwriter Tim Rutili on a documentary called Journey of the Asian Carp.

For the uninitiated, the Asian carp is a destructive non-native fish that has wreaked havoc on Midwestern waterways by crowding out native fish and uprooting plants. Notorious for their jumping ability, they also pose a physical danger to fishermen and their feeding habits make them hard to capture.

Meister and Collison hope to weave the documentary with Rutili’s music to create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Rutili’s music will supplement the documentary’s narrative as it follows the invasive carp’s slow migration from the American south “to the brink of Lake Michigan, focusing specifically on communities along the Illinois River that already have been invaded.”

If all goes well (more on that later), Meister and Collison will visit some of the small American communities that depend on their waterways and native fish but have been devastated by the Asian carp’s invasion.

Your contribution will support Meister and Collison’s “low-budget road trips to rural Illinois to collect interviews and audio, photos, video and ephemera. Buy us a diner breakfast! Pay for a tank of gas! It’ll also help with our ‘rough draft,’ which we’ll share with Rutili — enabling him to work his magic.” Contributors can earn all kinds of rewards, including songs by Rutili, Sufjan Stevens and Lambchop, as well as t-shirts, recipes, and many other good things.

They need $5,000 to make this project work, and if they can raise the funding they need, Meister and Collison will be doing the following:

  • Visiting a town in rural Illinois that’s trying to make the best of the situation by hosting a fishing tournament where hoards of boaters try to catch giant, leaping carp in nets without getting their teeth knocked out.
  • Hanging out with an Illinois state scientist who’s working on a bizarre “torture device” that allegedly scares the carp, complete with supersonic audio, strobe lights, and a bubbling mechanism. It’s a tool that could be used as a barrier to keep the fish out of Lake Michigan.
  • Fishing with a commercial fisherman who’s working with a processing house, trying to convince people that Asian carp could be the next tilapia — with a little slick marketing, a fish for every occasion.
  • With your help, Journey of the Asian Carp will air on NPR and be offered via podcast in late fall 2010. So head over to the project site and contribute now! We already did.

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