Second Vermont Republic

A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.

Big Heavy World: Vermont’repreneur Jim Lockridge on Making Music In Vermont, by Joey Lord (INTERVIEW)

Q. How did Big Heavy World come into being?

A: Big Heavy Started in my living room in 1996. I was a graphic designer and psyched to try the new medium of the Internet as a new way to publish rather then print. My housemate at the time, George, was an engineer who knew how to program servers and together we made the website. We were living in a band house, so we had musicians playing in the basement, Big Heavy World was the name of a song being practiced the night we were deciding on a domain name. Despite the name being way too long we went with it anyway, because it’s fun. The song “Big Heavy World” is by Chin Ho. Since the beginning, the project has been built on younger people volunteering in the music scene.

 Q: Since Big Heavy was established as the Internet emerged into public awareness, and the development of social media over the years with sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc., how have these sites changed the way Big Heavy World reaches to the community?

A: Over time Big Heavy has served different purposes. There was a time when we were a free website hosting place then a free email hosting place because way back then people didn’t have access to that stuff. As those types of servers became more ubiquitous the service functionality of Big Heavy changed. Now we’re rebuilding so we can direct people to the outlets that bands choose to update most often, whether it’s Bandcamp or Facebook. The changes have always been positive because it puts more power into the bands and we’re all about bands being powered by themselves. Back in 96′ we were using totally experimental stuff from M.I.T. to broadcast concerts with video and audio over the internet.

Q: In what ways has a non-profit such as BHW made an impact the smaller community of Burlington, and also the larger community of Vermont?

A: Big Heavy was on of the first sites that was community driven in the Burlington area. With a website that was streaming online we were using significantly cutting edge technology for the time to support our local scene. We had done a lot to bring different types of artists together, typically we’ll have shows with six or eight bands each with different backgrounds. This way people come to see a certain band then get exposed to new music. This audience builds a community of artists which can make it possible to swap band members or form super groups and call in others to help with recording. Big Heavy has helped to build the community within the arts scene, we try to represent Vermont music of all varieties to make a statement that that’s how it should be, everybody supports everybody. 

Q: What was the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome in keeping BHW alive, and also what was the greatest accomplishment for BHW?

A: It’s always a challenge but never ominous paying the bills We’re a totally grassroots volunteer organization but what we stand for and by how we accomplish our mission by hiring people who don’t have experience but get skills while being supportive of their community that have opened doors from which we’ve grown. not all non-profits are as lucky to get support from as may directions as we do and we’ve learned as we’ve gone that our values extend in different directions. We’ve got cultural preservation, digital-cultural preservation, workforce development, and a substance-free place thats preventative for younger students after school so we’ve good a significant list of what we’re good for which has helped us keep the bills paid. We’ve gotten recognition from very important people such as governors and senators people who have acknowledged and sincerely appreciated the work and values Big Heavy World stands for, but that doesn’t equal success for me. In the meantime, I just feel good when people have a good experience being involved with Big Heavy and feeling it’s a useful platform to learn something or support their scene. 

Q: After almost two decades of success, is there a next step that Big Heavy World is looking to take in order to expand?

A: For a couple years, Big Heavy has had their eye on a couple things, one being accessibility which we’re accomplishing with our new space at Burlington College. The other is a Transformational Threshold which would make Big Heavy World to be a livelihood for me. This would mean I could dedicate myself to the administration, program development, and the resource development necessary to help Big Heavy World meet it’s potential as a statewide independent music office. That’s the next big step is to find the support that allows me to dedicate myself full time to Big Heavy rather then have it be part-time volunteer.

Q: What is the most important thing you’ve learned that you’ve learned from working with the creative people in Vermont?

A: This is totally positive, but it might seem a bit cynical. I found that there are a lot of really good people in Vermont who have the heart set doing the right thing. But, I also find that a lot of activity related to the arts on the level of institutions is not not grounded very well in a vision thats based on values both at the city and state level. I find different influences happening how resources for the arts are spread around. Those resources aren’t always healthy, positive, or fair to everybody. I’ve learned that there’s room for improvement that’s not to say that it’s bad. This is what humanity looks like and how the state of the art is. The idea to me is that we can have a positive affect on that; make it better and fair with more resources, shine a brighter light on Vermont arts and contribute something good because we’ve recognized what seems to be a shortcoming. 

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This entry was posted on October 21, 2014 by in Arts.

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