The definition of acoustic music is sometimes blurred by the fact that a lot of it is actually amplified by electric power. Then again, the meanings of words change over time. Pure acoustic music would be just guitars that don’t plug into any electrical device, whereas what MTV called "unplugged music" back in the 90s was actually "acoustic/electric music," meaning, the instruments were acoustic with minimal electronic effects, while the sound was still delivered through microphones and guitar "pick up" devices that convert acoustic sound to electric sound.
But no matter which definition you want to use for "acoustic," it’s refreshing that music stripped to its core is starting to gain more attention in society, just because it’s closer to authentic human expression than layers of electronic beats and tricks that make an artist sound bigger than the Grand Canyon. Acoustic music is starting to become the soundtrack to the organic revolution, especially at farmers’ markets. SacTV.com shot video of local acoustic rock artist Doug Cash on Saturday, July 6 at Sunrise Mall’s Farmers’ Market from 8am to 12noon.
Doug Cash, who has grown an organic garden in the past, plays various farmers’ markets around town. He says he was able to get the gig due to the mass appeal nature of his musical selection, which includes a lot of acoustic versions of classic rock and soul hits from the 50s and 60s mixed with his original songs. The venue provided the bare bones sound system while Doug showed up with his guitar, which plugged into the small system. Interestingly, his voice naturally projects in a way that doesn’t require a microphone, as much of his singing is not directly into the microphone.
His music fits the local organic produce revolution in the sense that he’s a local artist who uses minimal enhancements for his live acoustic act. The other thing that connects acoustic music with organic food is its independent nature. Neither movement depends on big corporations. Acoustic music does not really need electric power, but a small sound system does help carry the sound a little further in a big parking lot. Big expensive rock shows don’t always turn a profit, but leaner acoustic shows don’t have much to lose. Doug was able to collect a lot of tips during his performance, which relied more on pure vocal talent and excellent musicianship, showcasing clear lyrics and tuneful melodies.
Do the organizers of farmers’ markets intentionally look for acoustic music? Doug believes he was chosen primarily because his music appeals to all ages. Another artist who plays farmers’ markets regularly is Adrian West in the San Francisco Bay Area. Adrian and his band mix acoustic and electric music, covering a broad range of styles from classical to rock. Adrian says, "I was looking for opportunities to play where people were already gathering and that seemed to be one of the obvious choices." Although he isn’t sure if his rootsy sound is what got him the gig, he believes that people who support organic food generally prefer music that is more acoustic than electronic.
In California there are over 800 farmers’ markets and people are becoming more aware that these outdoor markets provide much healthier food choices while cutting packing, shipping and wholesale costs. Sacramento County has over a dozen of these markets to choose from, including Midtown Farmers’ Market at 20th & J Street this Saturday, July 13, where Doug Cash will be performing again from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. However the artists are selected for these events, it’s clear that local farmers and local musicians come together in a special way.