Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Music as a Purpose

If you are a regular consumer of the entertainment and nightlife available in Mid-Michigan, it is very likely that you have encountered Scott Baker.  Whether as a solo performer, working in collaboration as part of a duo, or with his full scale electric band Baker has plied his trade in venues as diverse as “the corner of the corner bar” for a handful of patrons, to some of the largest stages in the region in support of name brand rock stars.

A physically imposing presence, with a baritone voice to match, it doesn’t take long to realize this is a gentle bear of a person and if anything is getting manhandled by him, it’s probably a guitar.

My first encounters with Scott were at gatherings of the Mid-Michigan Songwriter’s Guild, where independent musicians from the area would gather and show each other their new ideas.  It was a way to develop community, as much as it was to develop the songs.

Baker is well aware of the role of “community” in music.  Music is, in many ways, a vocation where apprenticeships help – be they lessons, writer’s groups, or early opportunities to sit in or “just jam.”

As he described, “When I was very early in my guitar career, groups like Gone Daddy Gone would be gracious enough to let me sit in.  They’d send me some blues songs they knew, I knew and they would just hand me the guitar when one of them was ready to take a break.”

He had similar fortune in striking up a relationship with blues legend Larry McCray, a close friend to this day.  

“Larry would call me up.  Realize this was ‘really early Scott,’ but I knew I had to stand there and try to give it back to him.  I think he respected that.”

It was many of these early experiences that encouraged Baker to continue to forge his own voice and his own direction in music.  Where Baker’s path diverges a little from many in his circle is that he soon found his calling in writing and performing his own music.

“I was always a little different, as I always tried to fold in my own music.  I was really into stuff like the Allman Brothers at the time, but I knew I wanted to write my own songs.”

And while the realities of being a gigging musician means he has amassed a catalog of over 1000 cover tunes over the years, he also has nearly 100 original songs registered with BMI from six independently released albums.  

It’s a diverse catalog with compilations that range from folkie, acoustic songs through jam band influenced rockers.  These are all presented in different incarnations in his live performances.

When queried about the difference between playing small acoustic shows and larger rock performances, he indicated there are some intentional strategies based around the dynamics of each.

“When I am playing acoustic, solo or with a duo, I have to draw the audience in. I have to develop their interest.

“With a rock band, you can just let loose on something, grab their attention and then they are all in.”

As someone who includes a number of their own compositions in their setlist, the most valued feedback is when someone inquires about one of his songs.

“They will come up in a break and ask who does it or where they can buy it.  I love to tell them it’s mine and they can buy it on my CD.”

When asked if there was any advice he would have for aspiring songwriters or people who have a goal of performing live.

“Go see as many performances as you can.  Absorb those.  Live music is where you hear its heart and soul.  Let that turn into curiosity that opens up your own creativity.”

You can find Scott Baker’s music, including his recent release “Purpose,” on Bandcamp, Spotify or other popular streaming platforms.  It is also available for purchase on compact disc.

Listen to Scott’s latest album Purpose below.

Matt de Heus
Matt de Heus
Despite his background in chemical and manufacturing engineering, Matt's true passion lies in music. Matt has received local awards from REVIEW magazine, recognizing his achievements in country songwriting, single releases, music videos, and more. His captivating song "Gone" has garnered particular acclaim. Alongside his musical pursuits, Matt is an accomplished freelance writer, lending his expertise to REVIEW magazine. He now joins LLL as their resident music expert. By following Matt and LLL, music enthusiasts can stay informed about Michigan's exceptional artists, captivating venues, and remarkable music scene.
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