WFSU EcoAdventures Looking to Keep Music “All Local”

Musicians of north Florida and south Georgia, we want to increase your exposure over our airwaves.  Find out more below. Also, we preview some of the EcoAdventures that you can watch on season 1 of WFSU’s new Local Routes program.

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV
Moments after its hatchling was banded by researcher Jim Cox, this red cockaded woodpecker flew to its cavity to check on the seven-day-old.  This footage is part of our collaboration with Tall Timbers, currently in production, which will explore ecology, culture, and recreation in the Red Hills.  Between now and March 2016, we'll need some Red Hills music.

Moments after its hatchling was banded by researcher Jim Cox, this red cockaded woodpecker flew to its cavity with food for its young. This footage is part of our collaboration with Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy, currently in production, which will explore ecology, culture, and recreation in the Red Hills. Between now and March 2016, we’ll need some Red Hills music.

Our EcoAdventures are making the move to WFSU-TV’s new show, Local Routes, and I have a goal regarding the soundtracks of these segments.   I’d like the music we hear to be entirely local.  Years ago, our station saved a good deal of money by getting rid of most of our stock music library. I’ve been using Creative Commons music.  There are some lovely creative people who make their music available free for noncommercial use.  But it’s a lot of work to sort through thousands of songs on CC sites to find music that fits the mood and tempo I’m after.  I’m really picky about what I want to hear when we’re coasting down a river or watching a red cockaded woodpecker bring a meal to its hatchling.  The new show is called Local Routes, sounds like roots, and lately I find myself wanting music with roots in our area.

Well, maybe not just lately.

Once upon a time, I produced a program called OutLoud.  Area musicians of every stripe would come into the WFSU studio- rock, bluegrass, zydeco, jazz, tango- I could go on.  We had our bits of nature.  Haiqiong Deng, master of a Chinese instrument called a zheng, gave us a performance at Maclay Gardens.  I remember collecting spanish moss (and chiggers) to dress our set when Bogazedi came on.  When the Tallahassee Youth Orchestra’s Tallahassee Fiddlers came on, their music was interspersed with footage of Lafayette Heritage Park.  Music and nature have always been connected to me.

After years of producing the show, I was heartbroken to learn that management no longer wanted to use our increasingly limited resources and personnel to promote local music this way.  A new show, Dimensions, would promote local culture and events in a broader way.  My professional preference shifted from shows shot in a big studio with a large crew to something simpler.  And often wetter, dirtier, and with only a crew of two, including me.  But even while exploring (mostly) unpaved Florida, I need good music.

Is this a Suwannee tip?  This spearhead was discovered in the Wacissa River, and is likely to be 12,000 years old or older.  As covered in a blog post a couple of months ago, we dove down with archeologist Morgan Smith as he and his team excavated a site on the river.  We need music for this and other planned segments on underwater digs and archeology in Florida.

Is this a Suwannee tip? This spearhead was discovered in the Wacissa River, and is likely to be 12,000 years old or older. We dove down with archeologist Morgan Smith as he and his team excavated a site on the river (read more in a post from June). We need music for this and other planned segments on underwater digs and archeology in Florida.  Do you have music that could accompany our adventures into a world thousands of years gone?

With Dimensions now giving way to Local Routes, I’ve come full circle.  I’d like to simultaneously promote our local outdoors and music.  Musicians of north Florida, do you want your music on WFSU-TV?

The specifics are as follows:

  1. An on screen credit during the segment on both TV and web.
  2. We’ll link to musician sites here on the blog.
  3. If you have a song with a connection to local nature, we may be interested in having an adventure with you.  I had a lot of fun on shoots with writers earlier this year (see below); there are so many great possibilities when art and nature come together.
  4. We’ve been talking about having Local Routes feature some musical performances.  Submitting music is a great way for us to become aware of acts we might feature.

You can submit electronically or get more information from me by e-mailing rdiazdevillegas@fsu.edu.  We can also work with CDs- we’re still cool with physical media!  Send them here:

Rob Diaz de Villegas
1600 Red Barber Plaza
Tallahassee FL, 32310

What kind of music am I looking for to score EcoAdventures?  Well, pretty much anything.  I don’t like to limit myself to a specific genre.  Having said that, certain music feels right for certain segments, and a submission might sit for a while before that segment makes it to my edit station.

I’ve collected some of my favorite uses of local music on EcoAdventures:

Velma Frye & Mel Thomas | Bird Watching & Nature Writing: Susan Cerulean at Bald Point

This is a great example of why I wouldn’t specify a type of music that I would use on EcoAdventures.  Shortly after we shot this, Susan and Velma would be collaborating for the Word of South Festival, and so Velma sent me tracks to use.  Usually, I favor instrumentals, typically something either folksy or new age (I notice that I like to make sunrises and underwater scenes feel mystical).  While I wouldn’t have set out to look for something with piano and vocals, it felt perfect the instant I heard it.  That’s what excites me about the potential of receiving local submissions- it’ll shake me out of some of my routines.

Brian Bowen | Canoeing the Aucilla

I met Brian Bowen a couple of years ago at a rally in Apalachicola. The community had come out to the county courthouse as Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio convened a special session on the state of the Apalachicola Bay oyster fishery. Brian sang his song, Salt in the Blood, about the struggles of Apalachicola oystermen, and I used it in our preview of RiverTrek 2013. I wanted more music like that, and he very graciously provided me with two copies of his CD- a full version and one with the vocals removed. Instrumentals give me the best flexibility while editing, and these sounded fantastic. Looking at the CD liner, I noticed a couple of OutLoud alumni- the tracks were mixed by Pete Winter (who came on with Del Suggs in 2007) and Danny Goddard played a few different instruments. It got me thinking of how many talented people I had worked with on that show, and how many great musicians were making local music worthy of sharing with the public.

Hot Tamale | Down the St. Marks River with the Green Guides

Craig Reeder appeared on OutLoud in 2003 with a group called Outer Circle. When we started doing EcoAdventures in 2011, he wrote us about the Wakulla Green Guides, graduates of an ecotourism program at Tallahassee Community College. And it just so happened that he and his bandmate, Adrian Fogelin, had written a song called Wakulla Green that we could use. I don’t often have the luxury of a song that so closely reflects the content of a video, and there’s something about hearing that song with the shots of Captain James Hodges zipping down the river that gets it in my head when I’m on a boat.

So what do we have lined up for the first season of Local Routes?  Let’s take a look:

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For months, I’ve been writing about outdoor adventures with my son Max.  In October, he and I will join Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s RiverTrek 2015 for two days of kayaking and camping.  Can he climb Sand Mountain?  He really wants to.  This is the first year that the Trek will have cyclists riding alongside the river; we’ll also get some footage of them as they make their way down to Apalachicola.

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We’re doing a deep dive into the Red Hills of Florida and Georgia: fire, red cockaded woodpeckers, mucking through wetlands, farm to table tastiness, and the deep roots of our local communities.  We’ll look at ecology and history, art and recreation: cycling, paddling,  duck hunting, and more.  It almost seems like too much to fit into ten videos. This series debuts in spring of 2016, but in the fall we’ll traverse old growth longleaf forests and the wetter woods around Lake Jackson in search of butterflies.  We have quite a lot of species here, some of which are rare.

We’ll also have underwater archeology, excursions into the massive Apalachicola National Forest, and so much more that we’re in the process of setting up.  We’ll have some can’t-miss EcoAdventures on this first season of Local Routes.  Hopefully, we’ll have some can’t miss tunes as well.

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About Rob Diaz de Villegas

Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for WFSU-TV, covering environment and the outdoors. Rob is in the process of completing Roaming the Red Hills, an exploration of north Florida/ south Georgia ecology funded by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy. Rob’s previous ecology projects include EcoShakespeare, which was funded by PBS member station WNET and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and In the Grass, On the Reef, a collaboration with the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Lab funded by the National Science Foundation. Rob’s EcoAdventure segments air on WFSU’s Local Routes and can be found on the WFSU Ecology Blog.