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June 2024
Vol. 23, No. 9

Talkin’ Craft

A New Year to Nurture the Arts

by Lindsay WhiteJanuary 2024

Happy New Year, my San Diego Troubadour friends. Since I’m a sucker for the vision-boarding, goal-setting, (somewhat psychologically delusional) slate-cleaning magic that accompanies a shiny new calendar year, I thought I’d spend some time reflecting with this month’s featured Songwriter Sanctuary artists Dave Booda, Astra Kelly, and Neilson about what they’d like the future to hold, creatively speaking. And since every article I write is a thinly veiled excuse for me to jump on my soapbox and shout “COMMUNITY CARE!” at the top of my lungs into the Internet abyss, we’ll also divulge some of the ways friends, family, and fans can get all up in this manifesting mix.

There’s a story going around that recounts Harper Lee’s homies gifting her a year’s salary, which allowed her the financial freedom to dedicate her time entirely to writing instead of “earning a living.” (That’s such an absurd phrase to me, hence the quotes). The result of that extremely generous act of community care, of course, was the globally acclaimed and Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird, which has sold 40 million copies worldwide and is consistently lauded as one of the most outstanding American novels ever penned.

I want that kind of community care and artist investment to be the rule, not the exception. Not just for myself, but for anyone who feels their creative pilot light is constantly in danger of being snuffed out by the sick and snotty sneezes of capitalism. It’s quite tragic to contemplate the wealth of extraordinary (or even ordinary, or confusing, or obscure) art that may never come to fruition simply because the world failed to recognize it as a worthy cause to support. Am I so cocky as to think I am capable of creating meaningful art that is deserving of such investment? Kind of, yeah. But that’s only because my entire spiritual framework is predicated on the idea that anyone who has been plucked from the cosmos and plopped down onto this planet equipped with a burning desire to express themselves creatively should be supported in that desire at all literal costs—not just for their own soul’s fulfillment, but for the collective enrichment of humanity. In my opinion, all creativity is a direct dial to God, but here we all are, still scoffing at $5 cover charges and still paying artists fractions of pennies for their work, seemingly forgetting our pandemic-era promises to never take art and artists for granted ever AGAIN. We can do better, don’t you think?

And that brings me back to this month’s Songwriter Sanctuary, which happens to be our one year anniversary show! All three of our featured artists have been contributing to San Diego’s vibrant music community for years, so let’s spend some time understanding how we can better contribute to their work in the new year and beyond.

Neilson. Photo by Robert Carver.

Astra Kelly.

Dave Booda. Photo by Arrash Tebbi.

Neilson: I hope to record a couple of singles and an EP, as well as ramp up my creative output for my video project DharmaDen! Once I graduate from SDSU in May, I also intend to perform a few times a month! The best way to support my journey is to follow me on social media (Instagram: @ericneilson, @dharmadensessions, YouTube: @NeilsonMusic, @DharmaDenSessions), and check out my most recent single, ‘Medicine Man’ on Spotify!”

Astra Kelly: “I want to continue to nurture a greater balance between the hustle and the pure love of music for music’s sake. I’ll release the full digital version of my new album Soul Fires. Patreon is a wonderful way to support the artists you love financially, but otherwise just come on out to shows, listen to the music, and keep being awesome you.”

Dave Booda: “I’m branching out into musical comedy with an act I created called ‘Boodananda,’ where I make fun of spiritual, new age communities. I’d love more performance opportunities where I come in and do a set just as Boodananda.”

So there you have it folks, three-plus-me artists you can decide to get behind in 2024. Or, pick another local favorite of yours and ask them what support looks like in the new year. It might be the most thoughtful effing question you could ever ask a person in this country.

As for the team at Songwriter Sanctuary (including our host Jeff Berkley and partners Normal Heights United Church), support looks like attending our one year anniversary show and inviting all your music-loving pals to take part in this act of community care! See you there!

Thanks for Talkin’ Craft with me!


Astra Kelly photo provided by Astra Kelly

Dave Booda photo credit: Arrash Tebbi

Neilson photo credit: Robert Carver


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