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Americans who consume popular energy drinks like Monster could be taking in unsafe levels of caffeine, new reports from the Food and Drug Administration suggest. Another federal agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reported late last year that more than 13,000 emergency room visits in 2009 were associated with energy drinks alone. Energy drinks, which are especially popular among young people, represent the fastest-growing segment of the soft drink industry, with sales totaling around $9 billion. And since reporting caffeine levels remains optional, many energy drink companies choose to forgo it — or in some cases, even falsely advertise it to downplay how much caffeine is really in their beverages. The FDA says it doesn’t currently have enough scientific information to change its regulatory practices over the energy drink industry, although some lawmakers are pressuring the agency to look into the issue further. 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.
If you suffer from persistent tiredness, exercise may be the last thing you think about doing.
You probably feel too drained to get yourself up and changed into your workout clothes, much less out of the house, into the car and over to the gym or on to your bike for a ride. If you want sustained energy – that is if you want to be more energetic overall – you need to exercise on a regular basis to build stamina.
So, in effect, exercise gives you more energy because you use less energy when your body is in better shape. One reason that people resist the idea of exercise is that they think it will be hard or boring. Anything that requires you to move your body counts as exercise, and everyone can probably think of some type of activity that is at least as enjoyable as sitting mindlessly on the couch flipping through television channels.
Challenge yourself by running in local races or if you live near the water, join a rowing team. If you need a different motivation for learning how to have more energy, maybe your social life is the answer.
For example, you can volunteer to help to clean up a riverbank or maintain a hiking trail, or you can work on a housing construction project in your community. If you love animals, find a shelter that needs volunteers to walk dogs, or if you like kids, get involved in an after school or summer playground program.


If so, you may believe that there just isn’t time in your schedule to get out and exercise on a regular basis.
If you have enough space to move, simply walking around your house or dancing to your favorite music for a while will help increase your energy. If you’re honest with yourself, you should have no trouble finding some unproductive habits to give up in exchange for a little bit of physical activity. You can find much more information about why you may be tired and what you can do about it in the ebook “End Tiredness Program”. 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. Many areas have opportunities to play a competitive sport, such as basketball, volleyball or tennis. You will find yourself energized not only by the physical exercise itself but also by the challenge of competing with yourself or as part of a team.
Many activities that include some form of exercise can also give you the opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Chances are you will soon make friends with fellow students who are on a similar path as you.
Volunteer work can have both social and physical benefits, depending on what type of service you choose to do.
If this is the case, try developing a simple routine that you can do right in your own home. This can be as simple as walking to the library to return a book or moving more briskly while you clean the house.Yard work is another obvious way to exercise and take care of your home at the same time.
Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked the FDA to investigate the effect that energy drinks’ caffeine levels could have on children and adolescents.
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.


Moving gets your blood flowing and causes your body to release chemicals called endorphins which increase energy levels naturally. And in July, New York’s Atorney General issued subpoenas to three energy drink companies to obtain more information on the their marketing practices. 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. Hea€™s their most organized member, keeping track of important logistics for practice and gigs.



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