Thank you Channel 7 News and Dan Ashley for covering our show at the Little Fox Theater. It was a thrill to have you there! :) ~Kim
Kim Baker: Press & Reviews
Kim Baker: Playing Music. Doing Some Good.
By Paul Freeman For The Daily News
For Montara singer-songwriter Kim Baker, her career in music can be measured by how well it serves her community. Fulfillment comes from using her art to help fund worthy organizations. Baker plays Redwood City's Club Fox on Friday, sharing the bill with another very gifted Peninsula performer, Ruth Gerson. The concert is to benefit The St. Francis Center in Redwood City.
"I guess I take after my mom," Baker said. "She's always been involved in something. When I was growing up, she was a volunteer in hospital emergency rooms. When I was in college, she got involved in a Southern California church and, through the church, has done a lot of counseling. This church is globally involved in charitable work." Baker and her mother Carolyn are in the process of setting up their own charitable foundation, Angels of Hope. Baker's plans crystallized when she met Bill Somerville of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. He's the author of "Grassroots Philanthropy." She appreciated his hands-on approach. "His foundation kind of became a model for me," she said. Somerville took her into the community, visiting several of the places his company helps to fund on the Peninsula. The first was the St. Francis Center. "I was just blown away by this amazing place," Baker said.
"It's this beautiful space that they built from the ground up. There's a classroom on the top. Downstairs they put bags of food together for people in the community. There's a clothing room where people can, once a month, get a bag of clothing. They have 24 units of low-income housing. "It's the most efficiently run thing I've ever seen. Sister Christina (Heltsley), who runs it, is incredible. And there are all of these dedicated volunteers." What Baker saw in the classroom especially impressed her. "The teacher's in the middle of teaching these cute little kids and she suddenly said, 'Oh, look, Bill is here!' They saw him and all knew who he was and shouted, 'Uncle Bill! Uncle Bill!' And they got up and came running towards them with their big smiles. It was a moment I'll never forget. The look on their faces was so much love for this person who had made this center for them. I'm like, 'Man, I've got to do this.'"
In addition to writing and performing music, Baker operates her own label, Earthwater Records. Now she's establishing a charitable foundation. How does she juggle all of these pursuits? "It's really hard, but it's good. I have to be really organized with my time. I have my little Macbook and my iPhone and I just carve out things very carefully. I'll say, these days, during these hours, I'll rehearse. On these days, I'll promote the concert. And so on. I've developed a system now where everything is really structured. I know there's only one of me, but, hopefully, eventually there will be more people involved," she said, laughing.
Her role as community activist feeds Baker's creative side. "The more I think about things outside of myself, the more inspired I am in general, as a human being, and that's reflected in my music. And my music has headed more and more in that direction, instead of being just all about me. "I've written a lot of songs over the years, and when I was putting together the set list for this Club Fox show, I found that I was picking the ones that speak to me about these types of things, like caring about things that are hopeful, inspirational, uplifting, whatever you want to call it. I find myself more pulled towards those songs. And as I'm writing my newer songs, I feel like I'm going more in that direction, as opposed to just relationships and things like that."
Growing up in Southern California, Baker admired artists who reflected social and political awareness. "The biggest influence, when I first got into music, was The Indigo Girls. I saw one of their videos and their approach was unique, different from any other video I had seen. I went to the library and looked them up and there was all this stuff about how interested they were in the world and the community and peace and activism. And it just got me. It really spoke to me. I was maybe 15."
She earned a music degree at Oakland's Mills College. She interned at Polygram, learning the nuts and bolts of the industry, prior to founding her own label. As a performer, she has built a loyal fan base.
Baker is well into the process of recording an album, a follow-up to her outstanding collection of folk-rock songs, "Field of Plenty." The new one will be more piano-oriented, rather than guitar-driven. She says the music will have a softer quality to it. She hopes to have it in release in time for summer and fall regional tours.
"Being able to use music to have a positive impact on the community, for me, that's an incredible source of joy."
Who: Kim Baker Band
Where: Club Fox, 2209 Broadway,
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $16-$18; www.foxrwc.com; 650-369-7770
Artist website: www.kimbaker.com
"BAKER SINGS FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S SUPPERS"
By Paul Freeman / Entertainment Writer
Peninsula resident Kim Baker does more than create exciting rock music. She uses it to benefit others.
On Oct. 9, Baker and her band return to Redwood City's Little Fox Theatre. A portion of the proceeds benefit Larkin Street Youth Services (www.
"I've always had a soft spot in my heart for homeless organizations," says Baker. "I heard about Larkin Street because of the great work they were doing with younger people. They help with housing, education, substance abuse and job placement - the whole array of services."
About 50 volunteers and staff members from the organization will be transported to the Little Fox on Thursday night. Baker hopes, at some future date, to sing at Larkin Street itself, so those under 21 can enjoy her music.
The singer-songwriter has helped other Bay Area organizations. "It's fun playing music, but it's really fun helping people," Baker said. "That's more what I'm about - caring about people. I've admired artists like Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, back to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell - artists that were more about social change and helping in the community. From a young age, I've wanted to carry that torch and do what I can do with my music and my life."
Baker grew up in Southern California, studying piano and guitar, and writing songs. She attended Mills College in Oakland for its general curriculum, as well as its outstanding music department. "Going to Mills helped me develop, not just as a musician, but as a person." She fell in love with the Bay Area and decided to stay. "I grew up in a conservative community and I'm a pretty liberal person. So coming up to the Bay Area was very liberating, from that standpoint. And it's beautiful here."
Through Mills alumni, Baker landed an interning gig with Polygram Records, where she learned the nuts and bolts of the business. "It was eye opening, because Polygram was at the end. I came in one day and learned that they had been acquired and that 70 percent of the office was being laid off. Artists who were not considered priority artists were dropped. That experience was one of the things that made me want to start my own record label."
Baker formed Moss Beach based Earthwater Records. "Running your own company, one you believe in - it's a lot of blood, sweat and tears. If you love it, you persevere." She has learned to balance the business side and creative side. "You have to discipline yourself. The truly inspirational moments come when you're not expecting them, like when you're sitting on the couch at one o'clock in the morning and all of a sudden you have an idea. You can carve out time to rehearse around all of the traditional work stuff. But you also have to go with the moment when it hits you."
Baker has carved out a niche, an identity. "When any artist is starting, they worry about how they can reach the people that
they want to reach," she said. "You have to get to a point where you kind of let go and put yourself out there. "It took me a while to figure out - what's my thing? Then I figured out that my thing was how much I enjoyed doing these benefit shows. So I began doing more of them. When I started thinking about the community, that's when I started feeling really joyful about it. When you're joyful about something, that's when people become attracted to it." Baker has found what she likes to do and is helping other artists "find their thing." "I have a friend who opened the Little Fox show in March. I have another friend (Karen Soo Hoo) who's opening the upcoming show. I want to form more of a community of artists who are helping each other, instead of competing with each other."
Like her Fox show in March, Baker will demonstrate that she can rock with burning intensity. But she'll also offer an acoustic section with cello and viola, prior to presenting a rousing climax. The audience will hear selections from her wonderful current CD, "Field of Plenty." She's excited about working on a new CD. It will be a departure from previous, more rock-dominated albums. "I've been playing a lot of piano and writing a lot of ballads, songs about love in its various forms. This album's going to be more focused on that. It'll reflect what's going on in my life, the lives of the people around me, things I see happening in the world."
To Baker, it's all about being real, writing songs that move people. "That's what got me interested in being an artist. I was listening to these great songwriters - the Indigo Girls, Tracy Chapman, Melissa Etheridge, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. They wrote such beautiful
songs and they really touched me or helped me through a hard time or inspired me to keep going. That has influenced how I approach everything in my life, my songwriting especially."
At a Freight & Salvage concert, a tearful woman approached Baker to tell her how one of her songs had enabled her to survive a painful breakup. "That's why you do this," says Baker, "for those moments. We're all in this together."
ROCKTALK ~ LA Times
"Moving to the Next Level"
Folk singer hopes to engender a rock following during her U.S. tour, which starts in Ventura.
By BILL LOCEY, Special to The LA Times
She wants to rock, but for now, Kim Baker is a folk singer who has a million songs about relationships or the lack of the same. She and her backup singer, Krista Enos, will kick off the Rock Star 101 Tour with a gig at Cafe Voltaire in Ventura tonight.
The tall singer-songwriter moved from L.A. to the Bay Area to go to school and ended up staying there with all those Giants fans. Baker has two albums currently out, "On Her Dream," and "Rising Tide." She has fans, too. During her last visit to Ventura several months ago, a carload of them followed her down from the Bay Area. Baker stopped packing for her big tour long enough to chat about the latest.
So what's the deal on this tour?
We're going everywhere, and Ventura is the first stop. We're going across the country to the East Coast and heading as far north as Portland, Maine. The whole thing is going to be sort of a test for us. We want to choose three territories in the country that we like, and then keep going back to those areas. When we return, I'll begin work on our new album.
How's the Bay Area music scene?
Oh, it's great, but I'm actually looking forward to getting away from it for a short while. I love to travel. Lots of people come to see you at certain clubs, but I want to take it to the next level. I'm ready for the next step, and I think, you can only do that by consistently touring. You have to develop a strong fan base.
Is it a bad thing to be called a folkie?
No, not at all. It's good, and I'll certainly know more about the folk scene when we get back from this tour, because we're playing at three folk festivals. Right now, I'm a folk musician at heart, but I also want to be a rock musician. I want to have a solid drummer and a lead guitar player, but it's hard to find people who are willing to tour day in and day out. My ultimate goal is to have enough fans and enough money to hire some musicians and start playing at bigger clubs throughout the country and the world.
What's the difference between playing a coffeehouse and a bar?
At a coffeehouse people tend to listen more to the subtle nuances of the music, while at a bar, there tends to be more people drinking and partying. It's definitely hard to play in a loud bar if you're a folk musician.
Who goes to a Kim Baker show?
I get various types of fans. I've made a lot of friends with people I've met and then ended up spending time with. Once, when I played the Genghis Cantina in L.A., a caravan of people came down from the Bay Area, so I've made a lot of loyal fans, and am very grateful. Hopefully each fan I make will tell a dozen more.
What do you think your music sounds like?
I usually say it's acoustic rock, but I am starting to play more on my electric guitar too.
If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?
All I can think of doing is music. I really can't think about anything else because there really isn't any other option for me. I worked full time to make enough money to do this tour. Music is definitely a lot of hard work--I think I spend 90% of my time on the phone or the Internet instead of playing my guitar, but it is well worth it. I love what I do.
Do bad relationships make for good songs?
Yes, they do, although I'm trying to move away from that and write songs that tell stories which reflect the complexities of life from other people's perspectives. Right now, I have at least three full hours of music, all originals.
So for now the plan is tour, tour, tour. Money, money, money. Rock, rock, rock?
Ventura County Edition
Byline: BILL LOCEY
SPECIAL TO THE LA TIMES
Brandweek , March 15, by Kipp Cheng
Folk singer Kim Baker doesn't really care whether or not a major record label "discovers" her and then signs her to a six-album deal (although she's not entirely opposed to offers, in case any big record label honchos are reading this).
Instead, for the San Francisco-based singer-songwriter, reaching her devoted fanbase is paramount, not the cachet of a major label contract. And besides, as Baker and many fellow indie artists see it, the future of music distribution is currently undergoing a rapid sea change, thanks to the accessibility and efficient transmittability of compressed audio formats like MIP3, aided by the ever-increasing ease of self-publishing on the Web.
"The old way of thinking was that everybody wanted to get signed to a major label and there are some people who still believe that's the absolute best way to go," says Baker. "I'm somebody who believes in releasing independently."
Like many unsigned musicians, Baker founded her own label, Earthwater Records, and self-released her debut CD, On Her Dream, early last year. But unlike most undiscovered artists, Baker has taken her music directly to her fans by making it available for sale on her Web site, located at www.kimbaker.com, and even going a step further by offering free sample downloads, as well as singles sales, using the encryption system of Seattle-based Liquid Audio.
If a study conducted last year by New York-based Jupiter Communications is right, the labels will find that consumers indeed will be willing to forego the slick packaging of a store-bought CD for downloading. The study, "Record Labels and the Imperative for Digital Distribution," found that though revenue from online music sales will be minimal in the next five years, it's advantageous for labels to eventually adopt digital distribution "to harness its marketing potential and combat online piracy today, and to appropriate the affiliate market from retailers over time."
For major labels, the report roughly translates to: you snooze, you lose. And lose big time.
By 2002, says the Jupiter study, online music sales in the U.S. will climb to $1.6 billion annually, with $30 million of the projected revenue going to digitally delivered music. An estimated $1.4 billion in U.S. revenue will result from the sales of pre-recorded music, including CD and music video sales. In essence, traditional and e-commerce sales of music will be running apace in less than five years.
Changing the rules for how music is purchased and delivered is a complicated tango, and for record labels the embrace of technology and music is a sometimes tenuous one. "Major labels are a little more reluctant at this point. They have a good thing going," says Bill Wood, vice president of marketing at Liquid Audio.
But the most likely scenario--as long as the major labels acquiesce--is that music delivery online will still be mostly run by the same group of distributors that run it today, even if some artists do break through on their own. The possibility has little to do with technology and everything to do with marketing.
"Not all artists care if commercial rules are in place regarding the distribution and redistribution of their music," says Miller. "Ask any of the 5,000 acts that are on MP3.com. But I would put one Alanis Morissette against 5,000 bands that no one has ever heard of."
In the meantime, it will be interesting to watch whether indie artists have much success hawking their wares online. Baker, for one, is optimistic. "Business is good. I think [selling music online] is something that's definitely going to grow a lot more in the next five years," she insists.
For Baker, with her tailor-made-for-Lilith Fair harmonies and melancholy grrl lyrics, a big name recording contract may not be inconceivable at some point down the road.
But in the meantime, Baker continues to sell her CD online and hopes to sign others to Earthwater who are starting out in the business, so that she can impart lessons she's learned about selling music online.
"I think the major labels are terrified," says Baker. She adds that if the major labels don't get it together, "they're going to lose a ton of money."
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