Now through June 15, Chad Morgan-Sterenberg is offering a set of songs for sale in support of the Huss Project; if you purchase the album “Lundgren Tree Farm,” you’ll also receive a bonus track when you download! Read on to learn more about how this collection of music is connected to the project and hear some of Chad’s story and hopes as a musician, as a member of the *culture is not optional community and as a neighbor in Three Rivers.
How did you first get connected to the Huss Project? What aspects of the vision for the project capture your imagination and how have you participated in growing that vision?
I first moved down to Three Rivers about two years ago, drawn in by the idea of this huge school building (Huss School), and the endless possibilities it seemed to contain. For many years I’ve been inspired by these ideas of community, food, gardening, art, music, and the like, and I never had a place to put them all, a container of sorts for all of my imaginings.
Since then, I’ve been enveloped into this community in a way that I never could have expected. I have met such a variety of people; experienced such a bounty of food, conversation and good times. Three Rivers is a humbling place to live, and like many small towns of the Midwest, it has a lot of struggles both socially and economically.
During my time here, I have worked towards growing my ideas into this space, and contributing where I have felt able: in the formation of an all-ages venue, the beginnings of a woodshop, and a small electronics shop that I have used year round. Being a part of the conversations has been an integral part in growing as a community.
You’re offering a collection of songs on Bandcamp, with all proceeds through June 15 going toward the Huss Project Brick Campaign. What characterized the creative process for writing and recording these songs? In what ways do you see that process reflecting some of the spirit of the Huss Project?
These songs were put together when the ideas were still very fresh and young on my mind. I had to restrict myself by forcing each take to be what it was, the first time it was recorded. I would basically rehearse a general idea, then hit record and see what came out. Because of this, there are things that could definitely be better– some wrong notes, some things out of key… but they have a character because of this, and that’s what I liked about them.
I think this sort of process is familiar to everyone involved in*culture is not optional and theHuss Project, because for them, everything is new, and everything is ‘flying by the seat of your pants.’ There is no guidebook or set of rules written to tell us what to do, and that’s why everything comes out a little ‘jazzy.’ Sure, we’ll make mistakes and wish we did things better, but that’s how we grow.
In the course of touring with your band La Dispute, you’ve witnessed a variety of music scenes all over the world. Where have you seen music shaping community in interesting ways?
In many ways, traveling and seeing these different places all around the world has shaped my idea of what I would want to be in my own hometown. Music is such a powerful force in shaping community, and I have seen how influential the culture of live music and art is to people of all ages, especially young kids who are still trying to form their identities.
There are a lot of places that are doing it right, but unfortunately they are few and far between. Many venues get sucked into this idea that profit is more important than the music or the people they are hosting, and the community suffers because of this. All-ages venues across the country are struggling to keep their doors open, and the impact is so huge many people don’t realize. For a lot of kids these are the only spaces they have to go to, and when they close their doors, their other options are not so constructive.
What’s your best daydream for the Huss Project ten years down the road? What about for your own art ten years from now?
I have high hopes that the Huss Project will become a beacon of community in the most unsuspecting place–one of those places where anyone can go and feel welcome, where there is no judgement or discrimination for anyone who walks through the doors. I hope someday I can arrive at Huss to play a show, and be welcomed in the same way that I have been welcomed elsewhere–or for me to be able to welcome others in that same way.
When a place is supported by a community, it is so obvious you can tell the minute you arrive. There are people there who care about you as people, and are genuinely excited to be doing what they are doing. This is my hope for the Huss Project. For me, I would just like to keep going down a path–to keep making mistakes, to keep getting better.