20 Minutes Apart music show combines race, storytelling and friendship

One man loved the blues, the other loved folk music.

Robert Jones was from Detroit and Matt Watroba from the suburbs. They met 30 years ago at WDET where they each had their own radio show. 

Now they have their own stage show together - on race, neighborhoods and friendship.

Robert Jones and Matt Watroba share a stage, their love of music and their decades long friendship in their latest show - Detroit - 20 minutes apart.

"We both grew up literally 20 minutes apart - me in Detroit, Matt in Plymouth," Jones said. "And for most people they never cross those 20 minutes."

But through their friendship born out of a love of music - they've crossed all kinds of lines that divide: borders, race and background. All of it shows the common chords that not only run through the history of American music - but the common chords we all share.

"We started to ask ourselves probably right from the beginning - what is it that we can celebrate in common as opposed to fighting about, to celebrate our similarities instead of fighting about our differences," Jones said.

"We found that the music and story of the music really told the story of America and therefore - us," Watroba said.

Last spring, we showed you the work they're doing in schools and theatres across the country through their education non-profit Common Chords -  showcasing American music with roots in blues, gospel, folk and country.

Now this new production is more of a conversation with the audience about neighborhoods, race, and friendship - combining music and storytelling.

"So by the mid-60s five good looking black kids from Detroit touring the deep south - they go into a segregated gymnasium - those kids hear those five notes and the kids themselves tear down the rope and dance together," Jones said.

A little bit of Detroit's history and a little bit about what makes it a unique place for people to come together and cross that line.

"As we were putting our heads together we were thinking this is a great time to talk about healing," Jones said.

Healing, reconciliation, American culture - which they say is a celebration of diversity, beautifully told - through music and those common chords.

"The way we designed this program is that is can be done on the fly anywhere," Watroba said. "So we can bring this to a church, we can bring this to a community center. We can bring this anywhere it's needed and have the presentation."

For more information: WWW.COMMONCHORDS.NET