September 21, 2015
Music Grad Finds Groove Teaching, Playing in Lowell
Bailin brings out the funk with Lowell Party Band
It isn’t often that Seth Bailin sits still.
Bailin, the man behind the Party Band, has become synonymous with motion, usually leading the hyper-funky band like a snake-charmer as it winds down city streets.
They’ve also trekked to Texas to play a festival, staged a show on the Bartlett School grounds for skateboarders and opened for Trombone Shorty’s two consecutive Lowell Summer Music Series concerts.
Bailin is one of many UMass Lowell grads choosing to settle in the greater Lowell area.
The university’s connection to the city and Lowell’s growing reputation as a town welcoming of the arts appeal to students.
“Oh, I plan on being in Lowell for a while,” says Bailin. “I have the scene here, a job I love, the community.”
Bailin works full-time at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell Music Clubhouse, directing its 10- to 18-year-olds in the recording studio. In the past 21 months, his students have made seven CDs, recording originals and covers of current and recent hits.
“I see raw talent in every kid there,” says Bailin. “Teaching music and working with kids is all I want to do. It’s a dream job.”
Recruiting River Hawk players, Bailin brought homegrown horn funk to Lowell. Following a vision he had during a festival of brassy bands, the blond, wiry 28-year-old saxophonist founded the Party Band in 2012.
After graduating from UMass Lowell in 2011 with a BA in music and Sound Recording Technology, Bailin headed for a job in Framingham, where he taught in public schools full-time and gave private music lessons part-time.
After three years, he decided to return to UMass Lowell for his Master’s in Music Education, which he earned in June.
Even before his return to the Mill City, there was a day in October 2012 that changed him. It was at Honkfest, an annual, three-day gathering of street bands in Somerville.
“I was standing there, watching and listening to the bands, and I had a realization – a vision—about starting a band like that when I got back to Lowell.”
A saxophonist since age 8, influenced by the likes of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, the Les Claypool-associated Skerik, Bailin tapped into a source he knew well, UMass Lowell musicians.
“I knew UMass Lowell had players in jazz band and they were well-rounded and talented. So I called a couple of the ones I still knew were there and said, ‘hey, we need to do this,’” says Bailin, a Wellesley native who picked up guitar, bass and drums in high school.
The Party Band, which has about two dozen members, released an album in 2014 and has “about 30” new songs ready to record.
“We are going to just stop performing in November, go into the studio and just record,” says Bailin.
But first, is Honkfest, Oct. 9-11 in Somerville’s Davis Square. The Party Band will be playing.
“Back to where it all started, really,” says Bailin.
And with that, he’s gone again. There is music to play, somewhere.