The largest living organism in North America isn’t a tree. It’s an aspen forest in Colorado. All the trees are connected through the roots, so the whole forest is considered a single organism.
On some unseen level humans are like that too. Call it what you want to – and people call it many things – the connection is there.
Too often these days we take the opposite direction. Modern American houses are designed so that each family member can eat dinner in a separate room with the door shut. Our highways are filled with rolling steel fortresses, the people in them listening to angry radio, everybody giving everybody else the finger. Who needs that? The more you separate yourself from everyone else, the unhappier you become.
Our mission as musicians is to reestablish the connection. When we see people at a show, old and young, black and white, dancing and smiling and singing together, when everybody’s looking each other in the eye and sparks are flying and nobody wants it to stop, that’s a good gig. Of course not every venue lends itself to that kind of mixing it up. But even in the most restrictive seating arrangements it’s possible to create a wonderful sense of unity. It’s a feeling older than civilization. Rhythm, melody and harmony have the power to pull us out of ourselves and make us realize that we, like the aspen trees, are part of a greater whole.
When people ask what kind of music we play, I say roots music.