In its single year of existence, the Food is Free Project has garnered a great deal of hype and devoted supporters in the Austin community and beyond. Delightfully charismatic founders (and bandmates) John VanDeusen Edwards and Jonathan Horstmann show their ever-growing group of fans and followers how to grow their own food, encourage their neighbors to join, and to live an urban lifestyle in harmony with the natural way of things. Their solution to what many progressive individuals are realizing is an unsustainable, impersonal, and incredibly wasteful agricultural industry is a simple and light-hearted one, and their nonprofit continues to receive attention and grow.
For Edwards and Horstmann, music is intrinsically tied to their message. Their band project, Mighty Mountain, is truly an outburst of hope and inspiration, backed by cello, violin, keys, ukulele, guitar, bubbles, and confetti. They play in bars, clubs, and on the streets. They played the recent Livestrong Austin Marathon, set up near the finish line, encouraging runners as they neared their goal with uplifting jams. Their sound and image is poppy and often transcendent, but there is a splash of rock ‘n’ roll sensibility that evokes nostalgia for the Beatles or Led Zeppelin, and brings everything back down to earth. And the music doesn’t stop at the stage–the Food is Free Project promotional and DIY videos include their tunes as well, bringing optimism and fun along for every ride.
The Project’s showcase at the Recharge on Second Street, during the last Saturday of SXSW, brought together some of Austin’s standout acts for a show that rocked and grooved and put a smile on many a face. Local favorite Megafauna’s Dani Neff shredded up the stage with her insane guitar riffs and airy, sometimes haunting vocals, backed by drummer Zack Humphrey and stand-in bassist, Will Krause. Mighty Mountain brought the stage to life in clouds of color. And breakout American Idol contestant Papa Peachez bored into the psyche of the crowd with his soulful poetry set to gut-wrenching melodies combined with wild, often-un-PC, but equally profound rap flow which kept everybody dancing.
It’s easy to see why the Project has become so popular — it just feels natural, in every sense of the word. Be sure to check it out and get on board with this shift.
Written by Lars Ranson
Images by Clayton Hodges (firstname.lastname@example.org)