Right now, I'm sitting in a dark, one-bedroom basement apartment in the uptown section of New Orleans. To my right is Catman , a 28-year-old heavy metal fan who got the nickname two decades ago from some cruel children after his Tourette syndrome caused him to lick his hands repeatably and wipe them on his shirt. (These days, he's lost the habit but still wears the moniker proudly.) On the table next to him is a small studio: mixers, drum machines, two guitars including a Lyon series Washburn electric, a microphone -- all connected to a Dell Inspiron 530 desktop. In a thick British accent, Catman describes his musical tastes, his past bands (from the Nundown to Albino Spiders) and the first album he ever danced to (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). He briefly stands up and hits a button the drum machine filling the room with a techno remix of the old Super NES game, Battletoads.
On my left, two music fans hover over Catman with three video cameras. One of them, Phil Bardi, probes Catman with questions, slowly getting the musician to open up while operating two cameras on a tripod. The other is Terrence Duncan, who pans and tilts and zooms around the room, catching Catman's musical history on HD. These videographers are with me.
We're Routes Music -- a documentary film acting as a roving music census, taking in the true musical passions (and disgusts) of folks like you and me, and folks like him and her, all across a place we like to call America.
Right now, we're traveling across the country -- and generations -- to find out more about the music Americans are listening to right now. Our journey launched from Tampa and hit Orlando this past Monday, October 19, and we're making our way west across the states to California, stopping along the way to interview local bands, take footage of live performances and chat with anyone and everyone - punk kids, grumpy grandmas, teenage hippies, soccer moms, seasoned scenesters, rednecks and roughnecks, straight-edgers, middle-aged conservatives, middle-aged liberals, carpetbaggers, scallywags, music lovers, music haters and telepathic animals.
The halfway mark is Phish 8, a three-day festival in Southern California where thousands of music fans will unite to enjoy the live sounds of a single, seminal jam rock band. After the festival, the documentary meanders through the Midwest and South to further explore the influences that keep America rocking.*
The goal of Routes Music is not only to document the music that Americans of all ages are listening to, but also to show how people are inherently connected through their personal, unbiased love of music, no matter how alike or different their musical tastes may be. Then we want to share what weve discovered with the world.
Routes Music will be filmed in two parts. What does this mean? Besides the standard film, we plan to keep a record of our experiences on the road via regularly updated posts and videos uploaded to the web throughout our journey. It's an interactive new media documentary. Never heard of that? Thats because its a brand new idea. We want you to tell us where we should stop, who we should be talking to, and what experiences you have had with the wonder that is music.
We hope youll be following us on the road. **
* Learn more about the documentary at routesmusic.com.