For Jason Trachtenburg, performing as the father figure in the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, the family band he plays in with his daughter, Rachel, and his wife, Tina, means more than merely finding an avenue for his quirky pop style. He sees the group as an instrument for change, challenge, education and artistic inspiration.
The group began with Mr. Trachtenburg writing songs to accompany the slides and projector he and his wife picked up at a Seattle yard sale. Incorporating his daughter, first on harmonica and later on drums and ukulele, and his wife rocking the slide projector, he found that the slide shows engaged audiences.
Nearly nine years later, the Trachtenburg's are still at it, traversing the country in a well-packed car, bringing songs and slides to the masses.
During a recent telephone interview, held under possibly clandestine circumstances from a Chapel Hill, N.C. Montessori school ("I am a believer in progressive education. I knew I would find a friendly phone here"), Mr. Trachtenburg, spoke in rapid-fire phrases that circled around a point before diving at moments of crystal clarity. He explained that the Slideshow Players succeed because it transcends and accepts the realities of playing in a rock band.
"Here's the thing," he said. "One plus one plus one plus one always equals four. Guitar, bass, drums -- it's limited. For us, this works in three circular ways. It works as a family unit. It is a mother, father and daughter. It works as a unit looking at families, through these slide. Then there is this unit as a band, as that equation, because we are, still, after all, an indie rock band."
Mr. Trachtenburg said a goal of the act is to present alternate means of engagement that eschew television, a medium he clearly has strong opinions about.
"The bonding process has been manipulated and stripped away by television," he said. "I believe people should do anything besides having others control their reality. It puts us in a place where we can't challenge or grow. That's what the message here is. It's about doing."
Still, the family is also working on a television show featuring Rachel, entitled Rachel Trachtenburg's Homemade World. There's also a new solo record for Mr. Trachtenburg and Rachel has a new band of her own, the Oh My God Girls, which features teen girls busting out the poppy rock and an occasional hula hoop.
Redefining entertainment, Mr. Trachtenburg said, is only part of the Trachtenburg's goals. He said he hopes it can fund a sense of community.
"It's a three-fold trajectory toward success," he said. "One is financial. We would like to pay our bills, help people that need it and buy a building that we could set up as a community of friends. Part two is getting the word out as lifestyle advocates. The world is in peril and we all need to live healthier lifestyles and a kinder existence. Part three is taking entertainment as we know it to where it is headed. We all love the Beatles and Bob Dylan, but we can do things that have never been done before.
We can move the bar forward and higher."
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org