A Q&A with Kevin Ruch Of Free Range Folk By Geoff Gehman
Three members of Free Range Folk were jamming on a tune most bluegrass-fed roots bands would never dream of fiddling with: “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” forever known as the cosmic alarm-clock theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Banjo player Josh Finsel, percussionist Brad Konstas and guitarist Kevin Ruch were creating their own odyssey, playing instruments they don’t normally play, instruments “totally wrong for us,” recalls Ruch. Pleased by the improbable groove, they eventually shifted from Richard Strauss’ 19th-century orchestral tone poem into a song about Carbon County’s 19th-century coal industry. For good measure, they named the tune after a mountain behind their rehearsal space. As an extra added bonus, they made it danceable. MORE:
Free Range Folk give a farmer’s perspective on Monsanto in their new “Roundup Ready” music video
If you spent any time with Michael Pollan’s heady culinary tome The Omnivore’s Dilemma or seen the 2008 documentary Food Inc., you’re probably heard a thing or two about controversial agricultural company Monsanto. But the folks most affected by the food production wars aren’t in the library, or the movie theater (though those folks are undeniably affected, since they eat too) – they’re the people working the farms across the United States, which gives Free Range Folk a unique perspective from which to weigh in.
They’re not just a rootsy acoustic rock six-piece, they’re also farmers in the Jim Thorpe area, and their concerns about the environment, ecology, sustainable living and sustainable harvesting play heavily into their lyrics – especially the song “Roundup Ready” from this year’s 444. In it, singer Joshua Finsel asks the listener to imagine what goes into the food our families eat, and how it might affect the next generation – and considering that they filmed a video for the song on “Anti-Monsanto Day” this past weekend, you can imagine their position on the company (which produces genetically engineered seeds and herbicides) is not a favorable one. The song and video take a playful tone – from the banjos and twangy vocals, to the horn section, to the shots of the band and friends busting open a pinata of “chemical corn.” Watch it below – it’s food for thought.