They don't call it agri-culture for nothing. Anyone who has grown up around farming or spent any extended amount of time around it knows there is a culture all its own surrounding agriculture. Of course, music isn't exempt from this. While perusing online information on Kansas's Gypsum Hills, (this is what I do with my spare time) I found a self-described "ag rock" band whose singer/songwriter is from Medicine Lodge, a town in the Gyp Hills region in Barber County.
Being a wannabe guitar player myself, combining two things I love was a natural draw. As Aaron Traffas, the head songwriter and singer in the Aaron Traffas Band puts it, the songs have honest, original lyrics, often pertaining to farming. No, this isn't the common formula you hear from Nashville about pickup trucks and tailgate parties. "That's something we didn't want to associate with, and instead came up with ag rock," Traffas says, noting it's more of a rock band with ag-inspired lyrics.
Lyrics, like those in his song "Red Dirt Farm," are more along the lines of: I spend my days fixing fence, they question my significance. I work the land where I was born, growing milo, wheat and corn. "When I set out to write Red Dirt Farm, I wanted to basically create a farming anthem for myself, something that tried to capture what it was like for me on the farm," he says.
Traffas grew up on his family's farm in south-central Kansas, where he grows wheat to this day, in addition to auctioneering for Purple Wave. "When I was growing up, I never really had a job because I never knew when dad would say I needed to put cattle in or go drive the tractor," he says. "I helped dad with everything up until I went to college. At that point I would only come back to help during harvest and I'd go work for Purple Wave after harvest was done. Then two years ago, when dad passed away, I moved back home to take over the farm. It's been a big challenge for me to learn as much as I can as fast as I can."
Many of his songs, like "Red Dirt Farm" and "24 Feet" reflect this background. "I wrote the song '24 Feet' during [wheat] harvest. The last verse about blowing the combine engine and switching it out, and my friends telling me to get a John Deere, that's all absolutely true," he says, recalling his family's Massey Ferguson loyalty. "'24 Feet' was basically an ode to what it was like to drive an old Massey Ferguson combine."