The other day Denine and I were discussing bands like Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, Trampled by Turtles and other bands like these guys. Deni wondered why this type music is increasing in popularity the last several years. I said I am not surprised.
We live in an age where almost everything can be made to be polished and lovely. We can produce TV shows that package an average singer with the house band and special effects to combine for unblemished eye & ear candy. We can auto-tune almost any voice to excellence.
We can present the world with unnumbered Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers, and the latest boy band who never sang a lick of music until they were hired for that band, and 3-D movies. Actors can be placed in front of a green screen so the final product appears to be acted out in a better-than-real-life environment. If perfection does not exist we can make it or produce it or buy it. We have the technology. We are there.
Is any thing wrong with perfection? No. These perfect things are simply a choice. In fact, if we make enough perfection, you can buy it for a low-low price at your local big box store.
So why then is there a growing audience for musicians who are picking up fiddles, mandolins, string bass or simple percussion and banging out music? Why are we tuning in to music that sometimes includes stomping, and hollering, and bangs, and squeaks? I believe it is because it is real. It is truer.
And I believe somewhere deep in our soul there is this longing for what is real and true. Synthetic reality has instant appeal, but contains no shelf life. Song & words delivered with passion and commitment to the craft do last. Often forever. The audience for this is growing.
I asked my friend Paul, who is a music guy, what he thought and he also said he has noticed the same thing. He said that people long to be rooted and this indeed is roots music. When I asked him to describe "roots" he mentioned quite a few of same words I had already written in the draft of this post. Going on he indicated that listening to bluegrass or hard core country is too restrictive for many listeners, but this other authentic music is resonating with more and more people of all ages.
As we ended the conversation he brought up a Huffingtion Post review about a band called The Vespers. They are about to become well known. Paul and Robin, have put this young band up in their home several times when they were playing in the area and are happy to see them finding a wider audience. I smiled thinking about how real it is for a fledgling young band to drive a beater van and stay in homes on the road as opposed to the latest major label pre-packaged band hanging out in a penthouse suite the night before their debut on some morning show. The videos of some of these organic bands often provide vignettes of them being real people leading real lives before and after their performances.
So why I believe this important? In part because our music reflects our culture. There is a growing demand in the lives of many for this real and true I am talking about in all of life, not just music.
I read the other day that young adults are more socially conscious now more than any previous generation. They are giving more time and finances than any generation before, but the preference is to give directly to the need. The same article mentioned that at this very same time church giving is at an all-time low. My purpose is not to criticise the church, but simply to say anything too polished and lovely is losing its luster. Anything not directly connected to actual mission and purpose is going away. Individuals are looking to touch the problem, see for themselves, and address with purpose from the heart. This will force the church to become more authentic or it too will become irrelevant.
We already know what is true and real - feeding the widow and caring for the orphan - clothing the poor - sharing a table and laughter with friends - hearing, really hearing the music - connecting with nature - being socially and environmentally responsible. The question is are you ready to connect. Are you ready to plug in?
Let's do this thing.
PS: Did you check out the music links I placed in this post? They are for you. Go on. Take another few minutes. Enjoy.