• e.s. baird

My father once told me "The Best dreams are the ones that aren't specifically about yourself". I think at the time he was referring to parenthood. My father was an amazing person and I've thought of his words many times. I've taken it to mean, for me, that what is most rewarding is to see the seeds you plant grow (metaphorically speaking of course my mother did not pass on her remarkably green thumb).

In late 2007 I embarked on what began as a rather humble adventure with my college buddy Jake Bush and his childhood friend Dan Carp in starting Pesky J. Nixon, the esoterically named folk trio.

We had modest dreams - write some music, perform where someone would let us, and have fun. We looked at our bands like We're About 9 and the short lived super group Redbird for inspiration. For about two years that's all we did. We wrote some songs... one of us may have been browbeaten into picking up the accordion but mostly we just had a really good time.

I think we were enjoyable back then, but we didn't quite get it. We were having a good time but there was little consequence to what we did outside of that. It changed at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2008. A group of artists, including Brian and Katie from the aforementioned We're About 9 heard us play and dragged us around the hillside introducing us to every booker they could and just like that we went from the three guys who were having a good time at the local cafe with Bubble Tea to playing amazing rooms like Club Passim & Caffe Lena as well as major festivals up and down the east coast.

That was when it made sense. Doing your best to lift other artists along. I hope that that's what we've been doing for the last ten years. Our most obvious version of that is the Lounge Stage, presented with Scott Jones, which to date has featured over 200 acts, 400 artists, and have had an average of 400 people attend annually every year. It's in doing that that Pesky J. Nixon found its calling card - bringing artists together to an audience. We're trying to take that to the next level in Tribal Mischief <fingers crossed>. Jake and I have been talking about this for about a decade - and its time we got down to it.

Updated: Mar 11

In the 1960’s there was a folk explosion - music became topical and personal and people started gathering forming and creating the beginning of the counterculture (hippy) movement. Coffeehouses and home show venues popped up across the country and people came together to not just listen to music but to discover their tribe; although the truth is that tradition started long before 1960 and continued in new artists and musicians writing sharp, thought provoking, and sometimes just plain jubilant songs of celebration. The infrastructure hasn’t changed though. The Festivals and the listening rooms that first come to mind in our community have about forty-years as a baseline behind them.

The growth of the music scene is contingent on the growth and evolution of how and where we present ourselves. My introduction to the scene was made after years of building up my love of the music through hippie parents and years at the Windsor Mountain Summer Camp. The evolution of that love turning into community involvement took a 13-year-old boy being invited to a Church coffeehouse by a 13-year-old girl. I have to admit, in 1993 getting me to go to a church would never have occurred without that crucial piece of the puzzle. Of course, I went and fell in love (with the live music experience). The Me & Thee Coffeehouse became my home away from home for over two decades. Back then I was the youngest attendee. Twenty-Five years later, I still rank as younger than average in most of our spaces.

The Southern growing church going community doesn't tend to match up with the generally liberal Northeast roots scene (although it likely does more so in the Southern Americana cousins of the folk scene), but this post isn't about the evolving cultural landscapes of America... it's about the virtualization of community and building a virtual one.

Man... that's way too much for a single blog post, but let's start talking about it at least. There are fandoms who live, eat, and breathe in virtual connection to each other. This isn't really a new thing. My band's manager was literally part of a mail in fan club and has what many would call "virtual" friends. Her love of Todd Rundgren predates the internet and that group is not an example of how kids interact. This isn't a new idea - there are just more tools to facilitate that kind of relationship now. This is the beginning of a series of discussions about those tools, coincidentally coinciding with Tribal Mischief's piloting of those techniques.

Thanks for joining, talk to you all soon! #buildingcommunity #folkmusic #virtualrelationships #whatsoldisnewagain #crushinsentives #ducksinarow

  • e.s. baird

Updated: Mar 11

Montreal is beautiful and I am embarrassed that it took 38 years of my life to discover it.

Also, it is damn cold.

Part of the NERFA team on the bed where it happened.

I ventured across the border for Folk Alliance 2019 in the storied hotel that John Lennon and Yoko Ono did their infamous "Bed-In" protest in 1969.

John sure has a mixed legacy. As a musician, it's pretty clear cut: he, Paul, George, and Ringo are among the most cherished cultural touchstones that we have and rightfully so. The breadth of what they created is amazing. But as a man, husband, and father his legacy is much more troubled.

I was already thinking of that at the Conference when a couple of giant community bomb shells fell. One less directly touching our community but awful in its implications that music is and has never been immune to the syndrome of abuse finally being called into light throughout our society right now. Ryan Adams, critical indie darling and impressively prolific songwriter, is also a monster who used and abused women for decades. This revelation led a group of incredibly brave women within our more insular roots community to call out someone who had the same pattern of behavior, Ian Fitzgerald.

I have a complicated history with monsters. I spent two years working for one completely unaware. Discovering the damage after the fact shook me to my core and I haven't really spoken publicly or acknowledged it for a decade. It was such a shock that I mostly avoided discussions about abuse and sexism. I felt and continue to feel a very deep shame that I could have been that close and been unaware and done nothing. I know that that behavior continues I read and listen and watch as eagle eyed as I know how, but I rarely say anything because... well... shame.

That changed after the conference. I was able to work with a few gentlemen I respect greatly to create a website of men who recognize that they have room to grow, and to hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard as it relates to listening to, respecting, and supporting women in our community. I will continue to listen, but I will not let my silence lead to more abuse if I can help it.

#maleally #folkalliance2019 #NERFA