Let the music play

Rudy Norman
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Local music teacher hopes to spread his music locally

Adam Baxter is just as much a Newfoundlander as the next guy, and he has no hesitation in telling you that. This, despite the fact that he was born and raised in a small town in Nova Scotia that “no one has heard of.”

Local Musician Adam Baxter and his band, His Best Friends, performed in Springdale over the weekend for their first stop on the mini-tour with Green and Gold. Baxter hopes the concert is the start of many more in the region that will help increase the arts community in the region.

However, the now-Springdale resident has been in this province for 10 years or so, and said he identifies himself with his new home just as much or more as his old one.

“I definitely consider myself a Newfoundlander,” he said. “I’ve been here long enough, now, and this place has become such a big part of who I am, and what I do.”

So what does he do?

By day, Baxter is a high school music teacher at Indian River High in Springdale. By night, he’s still a high school music teacher, but he also spends time giving private lessons and playing gigs throughout the province, either as a solo act or with his band, His Best Friends. In every sense of the word, Adam Baxter is a musician.

“I’ve been playing gigs ever since I came here,” he recalled. “I moved to St. John’s in 2004 and I played my first gig probably a year later, and have been going at it ever since.”

After completing his degree from Memorial University in 2012, he got a call from the principal of Indian River High asking him to apply for a position that was opening there because of a retirement. Since then, he’s enjoyed his role in the classroom, doing what he loves most.

“I look at it as I go to work and do what I love to do, so I have no complaints about that,” he explained.

All the more fitting then, it was at the school where he spends most of his daily hours, that he returned this past weekend for an experiment that’s been a long time in the planning — his first local gig with his band.

Indian River High’s lecture theatre was the site of the first stop in Baxter and company’s three-date tour over the long weekend, with additional stops in Corner Brook and Stephenville. Joining them on the outing was a St. John’s-based band, Green and Gold, who Baxter called “the next big thing to come out of Newfoundland.”

Friday night’s show, though, was obviously a big moment for him, as he emerged on stage, first, alone with just an acoustic guitar.

Baxter was greeted with an audience made up mostly of his students – the people he sees every day, but also the people who wanted to support him most.

“It really means a lot that you guys would come out,” he said to the crowd, before entering into the first of his numbers for the evening. After each song, a rounding applause filled the room, as Baxter had an air of apprehension and humbleness in listening to the praise.

His interactions with the audience were natural and informal, calling people by name and asking questions, to which they’d shout back an answer. He said the fact that his students were most of the people in the seats made it natural to make them part of the show.

“That’s how I try to teach in the classroom as well,” he said. “I think if there’s mutual respect on both parts, then it makes the experience much better for everyone involved.”

In the classroom, Baxter’s philosophy is simple: music speaks. He said he wants to show his students there’s more to Newfoundland music than the traditional jigs and reels that have become popular throughout the generations.

“I think there’s a new generation of Newfoundland songwriters coming up that speak to music today in a more modern sense, I guess,” he said. “People like Sherman Downey, whose music is influenced by Newfoundland, obviously, but it isn’t a traditional style.”

Baxter said he sees the potential for that world of music all over the province, including Springdale and the area.

“That’s definitely something I want to do, to get more music out there for people around here, and help them enjoy stuff like (the concert) more and more.”

Baxter and His Best Friends are also planning an album, and hope to be working with Springdale producer Glenn Thomas, who also produced Baxter’s upcoming solo EP.

They also have a number of shows planned for this summer.

To learn more, you can visit Adam Baxter on Facebook at www.facebook.com/adambaxter709.

Organizations: Indian River High

Geographic location: Springdale, Newfoundland, Indian River Corner Brook Stephenville

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