Some Alternative Roots
By Anna Alter
In February of 2020, I moved out of the big city (Portland, ME) and into a little house in the woods. I remember thinking it was going to be the perfect spot to host small music jams and song circles (and it still will be, eventually…). I was also working at the job that I’ve now had for the past 11 years—at a grocery store. Once the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, my job became quite intense (to put it super lightly). And even after the initial panic of the pandemic began to wear off, business stayed steady. For those practicing social distancing, a trip to the grocery store was one of the few opportunities that offered interactions with actual human beings, and many people were in desperate need of connection. And in turn, at the end of each work day, I was in desperate need of solitude.
As I grew more and more accustomed to a rather hermit-like existence outside of work, I realized that I needed a Project with a capital P. I needed to do something that made me feel challenged, inspired, and constructive. I also wanted to find a way to support creators during the pandemic. So I started designing Some Alternative Roots, a creative virtual resource space (with a strong lean towards folk/trad music and dance).
Building the website was both tedious and delightful, as I diligently filled each webpage with virtual activities, links to projects by artists that I admired, and other resources. It was fun! But I wondered... Was this helpful? Would people find something meaningful here?
So when submissions from readers started popping into my inbox, my heart felt like it was going to explode. There were people out there! And they wanted to share their upcoming album with me, or a virtual festival that they were really excited about, or to tell me that the buttons on the front page were hard to read. It was amazing!
About half a year after launching Some Alternative Roots, I was invited to co-curate/host “Next Generations Week” for the Daily Antidote of Song, which is organized and produced by Jo Rasi and Carpe Diem Arts. We welcomed many artists that have been featured on Some Alternative Roots, including Sam Amidon, Alex Cumming, Elias Alexander, and Mia Bertelli. I felt both totally out of my comfort zone and like I was exactly where I was supposed to be—surrounded (virtually) by art-makers and art-lovers.
Some Alternative Roots is a little over a year old now. It began during a time when I was feeling aimless and disconnected. And now, I find myself primarily feeling gratitude, warmth, and joy for the opportunities that have stemmed from this little passion Project, the new relationships that have grown over such an incredibly tumultuous time, and the artists that helped inspire me to make something special.
This waltz is dedicated to my musical fairy godparents, Sarah Gowan (who added the chords) and Bill Quern (who gave it a clever name). Both of them have encouraged and supported my dreams of making art for as long as I can remember.