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These elements seem fused together as we listen to a woman breathe in and breathe out of a blues harp, its reedy voice alternately sobbing, wailing and crying out in ecstasy.
Audience members taking first notice of Trinaa€™s big voice will be struck by her prodigious lung capacity and her talent for blowing blues harp better than any guy theya€™ve ever heard. Continuing an august tradition, Trina came east from the Minnesota north, echoing Bob Dylan. In junior high, she was part of a select group of students chosen to participate in an improvisational theater group, started by a speech teacher, Ert Jones-Hermerding.
A series of formative experiences occurred when Trinaa€™s Improv group teacher encouraged her to audition for the Minnesota State Fair. After high school, she attended the prestigious Berklee School in Boston and received a degree in Professional Music. Around 1997, events swirled around her and the insecure and changing nature of the music business turned life into a winding hairpin-turn-laden path.
Through her association with the managers of Sine, Trina became friends with Jody Klein, the son of Allen Klein (ABKCO, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles). Then, Von Freeman, who did marketing and promotions for a top 40 station in Cinncinnati, Ohio, saw her play at Sidewalk and was impressed. In 2008 Trina collaborated on one track on Vicki Gelfana€™s album Uncovered, a€?Long Train Running,a€? that old Doobie Brothers chestnut. Brixton Boogie, an album made in Germany, released in 2009, came about in a typical a€?Trina Hamlina€? manner. Ever the independent, Trina prides herself on not having a a€?Berklee stampa€? on her music. To try to define Trinaa€™s style, just for fun, a friend who was in advertising did a marketing study on Trina, using fans whoa€™d known her since she was a child and those whoa€™d come to know her as an adult artist. 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. In between harp passages, her massive vocal instrument surges, the melody and beat strong and steady, accompanied only by her hand beating against a tambourine. While shea€™s too young to be the prototype for the a€?Girl from the North Country,a€? she could serve as its archetype. On her live album, One NightStand, Seattle, WA, for the first time, I heard her play some terrific boogie-woogie licks, some soaring ballad accompaniment, and as a jokey aside, a few bars of classical piano passage.
So, shortly after winning the talent show, Trina started taking piano lessons, from a woman from Sri Lanka, who taught out of her house and used the Montessori method. A contest was held each year and the winner would play the following year with a 36-piece orchestra. The extent of her professional musicianship can get lost on the casual listener who might get immersed in her ability to belt out acoustic versions of southern rock and blues. She sang classical as well as pop and learned sound engineering, which she enjoyed, and even did some classical conducting. She moved to New York and sang with bands, providing mainly harmonica, accordion and tambourine accompaniment, still noodling around at home. Island Records brought her aboard and she made demos that found their way to producers of the TV show a€?Dawsona€™s Creeka€?. She began working with ABKCO as a a€?development deal,a€? making demos and recording with people like Jimi Zhivago (Ollabelle) and Fernando Saunders (Jeff Beck, Lou Reed).
He gave her his business card and later had Trina flown out to Ohio and featured her on a€?One Earth Partya€? radio-sponsored live shows where she performed with pop icons like Paula Cole, Duncan Sheik and the Goo Goo Dolls.
Shea€™d met drummer Bill Dobrow and bassist Jeff Hill at the club the Living Room (both of them later played with Rufus Wainwright).
In our August feature article on Susan Werner, we mentioned how much Trinaa€™s back-up harp work can raise the level of excitement in a song. That said, however, she admits, a€?I probably dona€™t realize how much I draw from my experience at college when Ia€™m in a musical situation.
The overall opinion went beyond folk, blues, pop or acoustic rock (she certainly encompasses all of those). The overall opinion went beyond folk, blues, pop or acoustic rock (she certainlyA  encompasses all of those). 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. In the clatter of the train wheels, the chanting in the churches and the classrooms, the cadence of our footfalls as we run, the bellows of our breathing, the hammering of our heartbeats, we live our song.
Her words describe personal passion and doubt, but the undercurrent of musical expression seems primitive, reaching back to a time when drumbeats carried our messages on the wind. Tallish, maybe 5 feet-9 or 10, shea€™s beautiful and has that magnificent instrument for a voice. Money was scarce and the family had no piano, but she saved her money, drew a piano keyboard to practice with, and took lessons anyway. Trina would listen to what her brother was trying to play from a book, and walk over and play it by ear. The first thing they did was to sit on the floor and play games with flash cards and sticks to learn rhythm. She was the lead singer for the band Blue Leaves until around 1994, when the band broke up and she started to go solo. She got some additional people on guitars and recorded the album at the home of producer Marilyn Da€™Amato who operated an a€?in-housea€? recording studio. Although she broke a guitar string during her first song, she played harp until her friends backstage replaced the string and got the guitar back to her. She describes the song, like many others, as one that came upon her by itself one morning and was finished by evening.
Her house concert in Seattle was changed to a beautiful old theater with a recording studio at the back of the hall. She asked when it was happening, and he said, a€?August.a€? This was not far off, and she needed to check her schedule to see if she could do it. The consensus centered on the phenomenon of Trinaa€™s musical ability to funnel emotions for her listeners. The relationship with Island ended.A  Trina had been performing as a solo act since the fall of 1994, and wanted to tour and develop. 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. It would make him furious, when Trina would effortlessly mimic what he was struggling to learn.
While she never felt that she wanted to be in theater, she a€?enjoyed the whole process of it.a€? a€?I guess I was on the path at an early age, of being some kind of an entertainer,a€? she states.
The first time, still in junior high, she played piano and sang one of her own songs a€¦and wasna€™t chosen. The words and music came together, and she played chords on that song that she didna€™t know she had in her. Everyone in her audience makes contact with the particular emotions they need to feel when they listen to her. While she never felt that she wanted to be in theater, she a€?enjoyed the whole process of it.a€?A  a€?I guess I was on the path at an early age, of being some kind of an entertainer,a€? she states. Shea€™d bounced between three clubs in the East Village: Sine, The Sidewalk Cafe (where we first saw her) and CBGBa€™s Gallery (next to the original CBGBa€™s and catering to acoustic acts).
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. She finally bought a piano and tried taking lessons as an adult, but as it turned out, her love of music was not accompanied with a matching talent.
As it became apparent that her brother wasna€™t cut out for music, it was finally Trinaa€™s turn.
A couple of years later, at the age of 16, she played and sang a combination of two covers, one fast and one slow. There was one available in the house that she shared, but it took 2 years for her to pick it up and learn it.


Trina describes her management experiences as a€?very free form,a€? people guiding her, but in an undirected sort of way. It was a blast.a€? Because the album was not completed at the time her songs first appeared on Dawsona€™s Creek, she was unable to garner much publicity from the TV exposure.
If you remember that song all too well and think you were burned out on its excessive presence on FM airwaves in the a€?70s, think again. And ita€™s this underlying understanding of whata€™s happening that I dona€™t always give myself credit for. Most were pass-the-bucket a€?tip houses,a€?A  where performers were not paid, and made their money from the collection at the end of each performance.
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. She began with a fast song, a€?Ia€™ve Got the Music in Me,a€? segued into the slow one (a Kim Carnes song) and then finished up with the fast one, and she won. Additionally, she did a few gigs there, and was noticed by a man named Krisz Kreuzer who asked her to write words to some songs he was recording for an urban blues album.
Part of that is because I always felt a little bit off-kilter as a kid because I could hear, but I didna€™t always know what I heard. 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. She dedicated it to her Uncle Murray, who used to coax her to sing that song impromptu in some of the tonier restaurants in New York City.
This is where she picked up the harmonica, purely by accident.A  Two college friends were in a blues band, a€?The One Eyed Jacks,a€? that shea€™d go to see after she got out of school. 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. She was asked to pick some songs, which were then arranged for her and she sang without playing piano (a€?weird for me,a€? she said).
Using overdubs, Trina provided back-up harp throughout the entire song, as well as the harp solos that are in the forefront along with her lead vocal.
Working with Susan [Werner] has been amazing because she talks in those terms a lot and I know that I understand it.a€? All that Trina has experienced prepared her well for her supporting role with Susan. She was asked to pick some songs, which were then arranged for her and she sang without playing piano (a€?weird for me,a€? she said).A  She performed with the orchestra for 11 straight days in front of an audience of a€?about five thousand peoplea€? each time. She thinks that perhaps watching the leader play harp gave her some insight into playing it.
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.
Dionne Warwick was supposed to play at the final a€?Grandstanda€? show, but couldna€™t make it, so Trina filled in, along with Michael Johnson, a pop singer, the showa€™s opening act. When another singer songwriter friend, for whom Trina sang backup vocals, asked Trina to play harp on a song, she demurred at first, but gave in.
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. Although the Montessori method eventually leads its students to sight reading, Trina refused.
A couple of months later, the consultant got back and said that Susan needed a band during her Gospel Truth tour.
The stage was bigger than anything shea€™d ever seen, and when the lights were turned on, she couldna€™t see the audience - just a a€?black wall.a€? These days, the audiences are a lot smaller in the clubs, and when she plays festivals, large audiences dona€™t faze her.
Her friend taught her how to a€?benda€? a note, it gave it more of a a€?voice.a€?A  Trina did it and liked it, then started a€?fooling arounda€? with harmonica. Hea€™s their most organized member, keeping track of important logistics for practice and gigs.
Finally, her teacher forced her to leave, saying she had to study with someone who would force her to read music.
She listened to albums by harp players, but that didna€™t help, so she just kept experimenting on her own. She was fascinated by the rhythms she was getting - different than the ones she was singing. No matter what I throw at you, you land on your feet.a€? Given that Susan constantly needs to change things up to keep it interesting for herself, Trina is the perfect band mate for her.
A  I learned something from every man I met or exchanged emails with, and Lou taught me a few words in Spanish.A  Ole!
We can take a little walk, maybe get our feet wet, and then lie on a blanket and listen to the waves.
I do the same thing myself, when the mood strikes.A  And how about this for being an "in tune with women" kinda guy?A  A few days after I had ordered myself 2 new green dresses and several in black to add to my collection from a mail order company named Newport News, he sent an email asking:A  "So, what are you wearing right now?
A  For Christ Sake!!A  How about saving the Taxpayers a buck?A  In addition to that $6 million you've already blown by hovering and covering me, and scheduling a proper Face to Base meeting in your office; at my convenience?
Dramatic, but no drama.A  Short black skirt, or long black dress?A  Heels or boots?A  Camo, or commando?
Until then, as in the end,there is much more to come.A A A  Once Upon a Time, a little mushroom popped through the moss covered ground of the Southeast Alaska Rainforest. Grant, Attorney at Law, Juneau, AK From Wedding Bells to Tales to Tell: The Affidavit of Eric William Swanson, my former spouse AFFIDAVIT OF SHANNON MARIE MCCORMICK, My Former Best Friend THE AFFIDAVIT OF VALERIE BRITTINA ROSE, My daughter, aged 21 THE BEAGLE BRAYS! HELL'S BELLS: THE TELLS OF THE ELVES RING LOUD AND CLEAR IDENTITY THEFT, MISINFORMATION, AND THE GETTING THE INFAMOUS RUNAROUND Double Entendre and DoubleSpeak, Innuendos and Intimidation, Coercion v Common Sense, Komply (with a K) v Knowledge = DDIICCKK; Who's Gunna Call it a Draw?



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