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On a Thursday night in late July of 2011, I was at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival on the night before the festival was to begin.
I was at a performance area called a€?The Loungea€? in the campground high above the midway. Months later, in November, they would win a highly coveted formal showcase slot at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference and also appear in Acoustic Livea€™s guerrilla showcase (and many others). We conducted a recent conference call with songwriters and group leaders Ethan and Jake that would reveal the source of the brains, talent and heart of Pesky J.
In his sophomore year of high school, Ethan started running a€?coffeehousesa€? out of his parentsa€™ house (with their consent). Ethan wrote a little of his own material, but focused more on learning as many Ellis Paul and Martin Sexton songs as he could, plus some acoustic versions of pop material.
From seventh grade through high school, Jake was always in the school choruses and orchestra. Jakea€™s first attempt at solo songwriting occurred as he was riding a ski chairlift and was about a girl he was dating. Jake had a checkered college career at Brandeis University, enrolling and dropping out, then re-enrolling and dropping out again. After leaving college, Jake spent time singing a€?semi-professionallya€? with the a cappella groups Altavoz for two years and Six Appeal (later renamed Playback), also for two years.
In the spring of 1998 Jake had left Brandeis again but Spur of the Moment a€?quietlya€? kept him on until they could hold auditions.
Emerging from the heart of Red Sox Nation, the band chose its name from three Red Sox icons. Another member joined the group when Ethan decided that he, Dan and Jake should attend the a€?Americana Ensemblea€? music classes that Boston folk club Passim runs once each week. Two years ago, Pesky played its first show at Passim with the Wea€™re About 9 duo (Brian and Katie). After 2009, the year of the near-tornado touchdown at Falcon Ridge, artistic director Anne Saunders needed to shorten the festival from four days a€” Thursday through Sunday a€” to three days a€” Friday through Sunday. Ethan credits Scott Jones as the a€?technical masterminda€? behind pulling off The Lounge stage. Scott had heard about the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival from Ethan and Jake and decided to attend with his wife and five children, setting up camp with the Pesky J. Ethan hopes to become more involved in community action using what he calls a€?tribal mischief,a€? a formal and informal art of social engineering. On a Thursday night in late July of 2011, I was atA  the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival on the night before the festival was to begin. Jake had a checkered college career at Brandeis University, enrollingA  and dropping out, then re-enrolling and dropping out again. Onstage, performers ecstatically sang songs round-robin, as much for each other as for the 450 festival-goers in front of them. It was the second year it was being held, but I had no idea what Ia€™d find after picking my way up the hill in the dark.
A song from that CD, a€?Breathe in Autumn,a€? was a haunting reverie, with layers of harmonies and soaring instrumentation that echoed in the mind far past its last notes.
In his sophomore year of high school, he started his own a cappella group that he named a€?Swingtown.a€? That continued until he graduated in 1998. His early experience with music included piano instruction when he was 5, with a a€?severe teachera€? not unlike Miss Havisham in Dickensa€™ Great Expectations.
He went over the verses and chorus in his head all day as he went up and down the mountain. His primary focus was singing with the universitya€™s a cappella group, Spur of the Moment. Not a student, he was technically not allowed to be a member of the group, but he was too valuable to let go, so they kept him on. Nixon has been working with a non-profit called the SAMFund, a foundation that raises money for young adult cancer survivors to help them pay their post-treatment bills. Seeking to meet other musicians, Anthony da Costa, Abbie Gardner and, coincidentally, Chris Oa€™Brien, whose CD Ethan had produced, came upon the Pesky campsite.
A former radio DJ with an engineering background, Scott was the startled next-door neighbor of Ethana€™s parents when Ethan brought the a cappella singers home (he was deathly afraid hea€™d moved next to a frat house). Nixon album, named Red Ducks (a€?reduxa€?), is a collection of songs of the musicians that the band has performed with and been influenced by over the last four years, featuring songs by artists such as Anthony da Costa, Gillian Welch and Tom Waits. There was a€?nothing much to do except listen to music on the stereo.a€? He listened to Dylan, The Beatlesa€™ Sergeant Peppera€™s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Best of Gordon Lightfoot and Harry Chapina€™s Gold album. Also during that time, he heard a live folk act for the first time at the Me and Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead, Mass.
By the end of high school, there were 70 to 80 in attendance and performances went on from 5:30 until midnight.
Hea€™d left the first time, worked odd jobs back home, then went back for a year and then dropped out again. In the fall of a€™98, he didna€™t have a vote, but was asked to give his opinion during auditions. As Ethan described her, a€?She had a wry and sarcastic sense of humor and, at the same time, she was a fierce member of the songwriting community in western Massachusetts.a€? He continued, a€?I started volunteering as sound guy at the open mics and the two of us became close friends.
The child of a bassist father and drummer mother, Dan studied bass and drums for almost 10 years before focusing his attention on percussion when he reached college. Ethan talked Eric into joining them in the studio while recording Monkey Business & Mislaid Hopes, then got him to join the band. From that point forward, Pesky received a lot of airplay for Monkey Business from Bostona€™s premier folk radio station, WUMB-FM, raising its profile even higher.


The album is a stripped-down living room recording offering a more intimate sound than Monkey Business & Mislaid Hopes while maintaining the same energy and humor.
There was a€?nothing much to do except listen to music on the stereo.a€? HeA  listened to Dylan, The Beatlesa€™ Sergeant Peppera€™s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Best of Gordon Lightfoot and Harry Chapina€™s Gold album.
As I approached the end of a long line of cars and tents, high up on the ridge, my jaw dropped as I saw the floodlights and a stage equipped with microphones, amplified instruments and a soundboard, all run by a generator.
Pesky was scheduled to play the festivala€™s Emerging Artists Showcase the next day and Ia€™d invited them to Acoustic Livea€™s unplugged showcases at our booth on Saturday afternoon. As luck would have it, he was seeing Ellis Paul, a songwriter capable of a high level of sophistication and a€?telling a story within a story.a€? It made a huge impact on what Ethan would expect from his own abilities.
Talking about his parents, he said, a€?God bless them, I have no idea why they allowed me to do these things.
He cana€™t quite recall, but thinks he mighta€™ve gotten rapped on the knuckles with a ruler if his hands werena€™t positioned correctly. He said he a€?wasna€™t mentally prepared for college.a€? Oddly, his chosen major was psychology. She was the kind of songwriter who would write two fantastic songs a week and she just intimidated the heck out of me, but at the same time she was remarkably warm and nurturing when it came to helping folks bring out the songwriters in themselves. At the University of Pennsylvania, he sang with the Jewish a cappella group Ra€™nanah and performed Gilbert and Sullivan musicals with theA Penn Singers.
Back home, they were playing one show every four to five months at small cafes, just for the sake of having a gig. As soon as he heard their a cappella-honed harmonies, he said, a€?Let me introduce you around.a€? He then took them to meet all the key personalities in the campground. When they decided to create The Lounge stage, Ethan and Scott pooled their equipment, the bulk of it coming from Scott.
Toward the rear, on the outskirts of the audience, performers swarmed everywhere either waiting to go on or socializing in respectful, hushed tones. It produced a small, insular group of people who were really interested in learning about this stuff.a€? Ethana€™s at-home a€?coffeehousesa€? foreshadowed the type of gatherings that Pesky J. He wanted to quit after six months, but his mom convinced him to try studying with another teacher who had just moved to town and whose reputation included the term a€?wonderful.a€? She must have been, since Jake studied with her for the next 10 years. Recently he found an old notebook in the bench of the familya€™s piano in which hea€™d written songs during his teen years. On the second day of his freshman year, Ethan auditioned for Spur of the Moment and easily made the group. She kind of battered me into playing the open mic and after a while I started sneaking originals in when I thought no one was paying attention, but she could always tell. In his first studio experience, he provided percussion on a project with pop singer John Legend. They also got to meet Brian Gundersdorf, Katie Graybeal and Pat Klink of Wea€™re About 9, who came over to their campsite the next night. Ethana€™s major in college was English Literature and Music Composition but, as Ethan explains it, his parents told him that his major was actually a€?a cappella.a€? There were enormous chunks of time spent practicing and the groupa€™s performances were frequent (three to four practices a week for three hours each and 15 performances per semester). Our plaster monkey butler Newman, that is in most of our press shots and the monkey of Monkey Business & Mislaid Hopes, is something I inherited from her. Ironically, it was Wea€™re About 9 that Ethan had pointed out as a model for Pesky when it formed a€” a€?Therea€™s this trio that writes great songs and sings great harmony.a€? a€” Ethan recalled saying a€¦ and here they were, soon to become their cohorts in a burgeoning career. I had just gotten a big, warm introduction to the technical and community organizing skills of the group known as Pesky J.
The group had to organize and arrange their own music and put out one CD every year (all self-funded). The day after she passed away she was published in Glamour magazinea€™s annual non-fiction writing contest [a heart-wrenching story of her battle with cancer]. During the following year, Pesky shared gigs with Anthony and Wea€™re About 9, doing four to five shows. Ethan took charge here, moving all 20 singers in the group into his parentsa€™ house to record in his home studio.
As a cornerstone founding member of the group, Dan runs counter to the stereotypical view of drummers. For more than a decade, Manny was a respected colleague who taught us so much not only about the sweet science but also about friendship and loyalty.
Hea€™s their most organized member, keeping track of important logistics for practice and gigs.
Most of all I will miss our friendship, rest in peace Emanuel.a€?A "(My brother) Vitali and I, along with the entire Team Klitschko, send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Emanuel's family and friends," Wladimir Klitschko said in a statement. Well I was privileged enough to work with one for almost a decade.A "I will miss our time together," Klitschko said. You will be greatly missed.A My team and I will carry on with the goals we had set while Emanuel was with us because that is exactly what Emanuel would have wanted.
I know he will be with us in spirit along the way and we will accomplish these goals in his honor, until we meet again my friend."A Klitschko, is training in Austria for a Nov. 10 title defense against Mariusz Wach, knew the gravity of Steward's illness and was forced this week to announce a replacement for Steward for the fight, tapping Steward Disciple and pro heavyweight Johnathon Banks, a Kronk Gym product.A EmanuelA began working with Klitschko in 2004, and their first fight resulted in a knockout loss to Lamon Brewster. But under Steward's steady hand, Klitschko rebuilt himself into a heavyweight force and one of the most dominant heavyweight champions in history.A HeA got a lot of the credit for helping Klitschko mentally as much as he did for training him physically. It is with a heavy heart that the realization of what I hoped were just rumors, are now in fact true.
Manny always told me I was the best, but the truth is, he was the best and I'm grateful, privileged and honored to be counted among his many historic successes.A  A We've truly lost one of boxing's crown jewels. He was an institution unto himself and I'm proud to have had him in my corner for so many years.A I'm extremely grateful for the time that I was given with him and he will be severely missed by all who knew and loved him.


I'll miss his smile, his frank no-holds-barred truthfulness and our discussions on boxing and life. During the week white parents were seen in and out of the facility and on the weekend they would pick-up their children and take them home. My time was spend one block over on 13th and V Street working out of Harrison Playground and Harrison Elementary. I was of no help, I knew little or nothing about Hillcrest and how it served the community.
I was more concerned about the knuckleheads I would encounter hanging out in the U Street corridor. We discussed what remedies we could use to combat these acts of truancy.A My thoughts, why not try to use athletics as a motivational tool? The athletic team concept helped me to improve my school attendance and discipline, why not use the same vehicle for these knuckleheads (I know a knucklehead when I see one, because I was one). A I would notice after school the young men who should have been attending Harrison during school hours would migrate to the playground.
Cousins and Roving Leader Director, Stanley Anderson, I held tryouts for the Harrison touch football team on Harrison Playground in the evenings after school.
You name the sport, football, basketball, baseball, track and field, most could run like the wind. I wished that I could have been that talented at their young age.Getting them to tryout for the team was easy, but getting them to improve their attendance and their grades was not going to be an easy chore.
The rules of participation were; regular school attendance, maintain a C average, respectful behavior (no profanity) and be on time for school and practice. Several I had to dismiss from the team or I benched them in favor of a not so talented teammate, but as we started to win without them, they changed their rebel ways.A I convinced other elementary schools in walking distance of Harrison to participate, Garrison and Grimke principals liked the concept and came aboard. The idea went over so well other elementary schools wanted to participate and the program went city-wide. With my coaching genius, Harrison Elementary won the first City Wide Elementary Touch Football League Championship. It took several practices before Andrew Johnson my high school teammate and police officer could convince his colleagues to take off their guns during practice.A The league was the brainchild of the late Mayor for Life, Marion Barry. The league was designed to help improve police community relations and it did for a minute.A In 1968 all hell broke loose after the gun related death of our Prince of Peace in Memphis, Tn, Dr. I remember NFL Hall of Fame and Green Bay Packer player Willie Wood and I standing on the corner of 9th and U Streets after having lunch at the in-crowd hangout of the Che Maurice restaurant. It was a beautiful bright sun shiny April 4th day when someone rode by in a car and yelled "Harold Bell they just shot and killed Dr. A Our boss Stanley Anderson requested that we stay on the streets because we might be able to save a child. A I was told to report to the Third District HQ to meet with Assistant Chief Timon O'Bryant.
He told the officers to watch my back because I would be on the streets with them trying to keep the peace. He then gave me a police badge to assist me in getting through police and military barricades. The Chili Bowl was the only business allowed to stay open during the riots, thanks to an assist from Chief U. After the White House had ordered all businesses to shut-down, Luke intervene on behalf of Ben's explaining to President Lyndon B. Johnson that Ben's needed to stay open for first respondents, doctors, nurses, police, fire departments, military personnel and youth advocates like myself, we needed some place to eat. The administrators at the Hillcrest Children's Center reported having problems with neighborhood youth and some adult residents harassing staff and family members of their patients. A friend on the staff of Children's Hospital recommended that they talk with me about the problem. A The tour of the facility was an eye opener for me, I could not believe there was a indoor swimming pool, in door and outdoor basketball courts, overnight facilities for patients and a cafeteria.
Long wanted to open the facility to kids in the neighborhood on the weekends (Saturday only).
I thought this was a great ideal, but there was a catch, they wanted me to run the program. There was no-way I was giving up that job, I still had dreams of playing in the NFL.I had a sit-down discussion with my wife Hattie, my brother Earl and my friend Andrew Johnson, both DC cops. We reached a compromise and figure out a way to open the facility on Saturdays to neighborhood kids without me missing a game.
A The first ever students bused in from Tacoma-Park Seven Day Adventist Church from Tacoma-Park, Md. Today, high school and college students can earn credits toward graduation for volunteering in the community (unheard of before 1968).The first ever NFL Films nationally televised (CBS) community promo was video taped at Hillcrest in 1972.
Integrity and honesty were their hallmarks during all the community First accomplished at the Hillcrest Saturday Program, they had my back. A He was arrested under a state statute for insurrection, because he protested unequal justice and segregation laws while championing an interracial workers movement.. He was summarily sentenced to life in prison, though released on appeal following massive black protests. A Of course, the wise and the learned who pen A  A  A  A  A  A  A  editorials in the papers, and the ladies and gents with Dr.



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