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Art & Soul: Hey Rosetta! frontman starts anew

Tim Baker of Hey Rosetta!
Tim Baker, formerly of Hey Rosetta! - Elizabeth Patterson

As the days close in and the heat of August makes way for the crispness of autumn, a tree in our backyard has been turning a deep red. It began with a few leaves on the eastern side of it, but now it has a full blossom of scarlet in its very center that indicates that change is upon us. Fall is a colourful gift that softens the blow of winter’s inevitable harshness.

Change is imminent and unavoidable, not just in the shift to a new season. Tim Baker –formerly of Hey Rosetta! – is certainly in the middle of a big metamorphosis. Now, a year after the band announced it was on an indefinite hiatus, their founder and frontman is travelling around performing at small venues, sorting through the 80 or so songs he’d set aside, writing new ones as he redefines himself as a solo artist.

“It’s not better, or worse, it’s just different,” and it’s been “nice, quiet, easy,” he says of the past year. He also says, “It’s not nearly so much fun.”

The solo tour is an attempt to “road-test the songs,” by playing intimate house concerts.  It is quite the contrast to the large venues of recent years as the group became one of the most popular bands in the country.

“You’re just there, by yourself,” he says of this new experience. It’s daunting even for a seasoned performer. After a dozen years with a band to hand things off to, to run things by, every piece of the performance is now him, alone on stage.

When writing for Hey Rosetta!, Tim says he “wrote for the character of the band,” because there was a certain sound they tried to maintain. Now, as a solo artist, who says he “likes everything, when it comes to music,” finds it more complicated because he has to figure out the Tim Baker sound.

I admit I thought that Tim’s new reality should be easy after all, he’s been in a highly successful band and it should be an easy launch.

I learned that’s not necessarily true. Along with the new found freedom to write, sing and perform what he wishes, there is also a residual expectation from fans. If a Tim Baker song doesn’t sound much like a Hey Rosetta! song, then will it be accepted?

As Tim moves forward through this transition, I’m struck by how thoughtful he is over the process. How he’s not leaped into the wake of his band success, but rather waited for the waves to subside. He’s got an album finished, but it won’t come out until February or March. He’s playing several venues around the province, but they’re small shows in Twillingate, Fogo Island and Botwood. There is no hurry and he seems undaunted by having to start anew.

As we chatted about social enterprises, the environment, songwriting and Newfoundland and Labrador and our mutual love of the place, it dawned on me that choosing change is something a lot of people avoid.

I remember having miserable jobs but not quitting. Yet there is no job I ever lost that didn’t leave me better off in the long run – if not financially, at least spiritually. So why didn’t I choose to change? Why did I have an aversion to something that happened anyway?

Making the choice would have been better than having it forced upon me. 

Now I wouldn’t suggest anybody kick over the coffee table, drop a match at the front door and burn down your whole life. Instead, if you want to start down another path, make plans, implement things bit by bit, work towards goals, and by the time you make the big jump, you’ll be prepared.

A rut is deep, warm and cozy and it’ll keep you safe but do any of us really want to live in a rut?

Debbie Boone, one-hit wonder and purveyor of wisdom once said, “In Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.”

Art is born of dreams, and you can’t plant the seeds of your dreams if you’re living in a barren field.

The complete interview with Tim Baker can be found at: www.carolynrparsons.ca. Find Tim Bakers tour dates at: www.timbaker.net. Carolyn R. Parsons is an author who lives in Central Newfoundland and Labrador. She can be reached at carolynrparsons@gmail.com.

Also, listen to the radio show, Bridges, here.

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