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It was kindergarten naptime for Ben Root, and the soon-to-be-musician tapped his mat to a melody in his head.
“If I can do this right now,” young Ben thought, “then playing piano can’t be that hard.”
So on the way home from school, Ben asked his mom if he could take piano lessons.
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A few years later Ben picked up guitar, and by the time he was a sophomore in high school, he was writing songs and starting to make a record.
Now Ben’s a junior at UT studying radio-television-film, and his band Ben Root and the Community are part of the local scene.
“I’ve always been drawn to music, always loved it, always wanted to play in bands,” Ben said. “I honestly feel annoyed or sad if I’m not in a band or not playing or something.”
Ben Root and the Community draw from classic and psychedelic influences in sound, appearance and attitude. Flared jeans and a flower-covered drum kit give the band a tinge of Woodstock, and the lineup takes a page from the power trios of the sixties.
“Music is a universal language of emotion, right?” Ben said. “Overall our message is positivity, and I think that’s ultimately what I’m trying to do with music and trying to find that within myself. It’s self expression and self-introspection.”
Ben played all the instruments on his high school record, but now he and the community are working on a new EP with drummer Joe Alves and bassist Alex Freeman.
“I definitely liked the way [the record] turned out and everything, but I’m also happy now that I have other musicians playing,” Ben said. “It was just kind of too much of me in one record.”
Ben still embodies the DIY musician mentality. On top of largely writing and recording the songs, he also wrote, produced and directed his last music video.
“It’s a lot of work, having to do it all,” Ben said. “Especially in the music industry. There’s plenty of musicians, and there’s no money. If you want to make a video, you’re just going to have to find a way.”
Ben made his last music video through one of his RTF classes.
“I felt really lucky to have the resources at UT and friends who agreed to work on it for free,” Ben said. “I was able to make a music video that looks professional and sounds good for way less than if I had to pay someone.”
Next semester Ben is studying abroad in Paris, and he hopes to push for a more unique sound.
“I want to develop my own sound more,” Ben said. “I don’t even know if I can hear it yet, I just know that right now what I’m making is good and I like it, but it’s not necessarily crazy.”
Ben Root and the Community play next at French House on December 15 for the release of their music video.
I'm Will, I drive a van and write about music.