Interview Vacations

Interview: Beck Rustic of the New England Shake-Up

5:00 AMDollie Simpson

With only two weeks left until the 2nd annual New England Shake-Up, I feel really lucky that I could get the event's creator and promoter, Beck Rustic, to take time out of her schedule to chat about all things Shake-Up related.

Dollie: Thanks for talking with me today Beck. I am really looking forward to this years New England Shake-Up. What was your inspiration to create this weekender?

Beck: Two reasons really...

Selfishly, I wanted to go to a weekender I could drive to, in New England, instead of needing to hop on a plane! No one else was seeming to want to take on the task, so I thought I should try.

Idealistically, and more importantly, My hope is that the New England Shake-Up will eventually make it easier for bands to tour this part of the country more often. Hopefully, someone gets introduced to a band they aren't familiar with, at the Shake-Up, and digs them... and then the next time that band comes through town, they get excited and go to the gig. I want to help build up a base of people here that will support touring bands in this genre that I love. I guess that's also a bit selfish on my part.. I basically just want good music to happen here, and often!

D: You introduced me to a lot of new bands last year, that's for sure! So, I just realized that you are the only female weekender promoter I can name. You are such an inspiration! Do you run into any unique challenges being a woman in a male dominated arena?

B: I haven't run into any real challenges, but I've run into a few, I don't know.. "annoyances." Occasionally, people will ask to speak to the "man in charge," if they're trying to get booked or whatever. Or they assume I'm just the personal assistant of whoever is running the Shake-Up. I don't really consider it a challenge.. I think that BECAUSE there aren't too many women putting on events, it's just assumed that the Shake-Up is run by a man.

One of my musicians from Year One brought me a giant chocolate bar when he arrived... he said that he had never worked for a female promoter before, and he felt he should bring a gift. I thought that was cute. And delicious!

D: You found a beautiful location to host the event at. How did you come across the Sturbridge Host Hotel and how has it been working with them the last few years? 

B: Originally, I wanted to hold the Shake-Up right in Boston, but none of the hotels in the city felt quite right.. either they didn't have a nice indoor pool, or their ballroom wasn't big enough, or they had a good ballroom, but no parking lot where I could host the car show. I also wanted the Shake-Up to have a real "New England" feel, and not a lot of hotels in Boston have that. So I started looking farther out of the city... I've been to the Sturbridge Host Hotel for other events over the years, and thought it'd be perfect for a small, music-focused weekender with a relaxing, "New England vacation" sort of feel.

Before Year One, I sent the Sturbridge Host Hotel staff some footage of other weekenders so they'd have an idea of the kind of crowd that the Shake-Up would bring, and also what to expect in general. They really "got it," and it's been fantastic working with the team there.

D: It sure is the perfect venue, and Sturbridge is such a cute little town. What else is there to do locally?

B: Sturbridge is known for its antique shops and flea markets, and there are great little antique shops right in the area... both within walking distance and a bit farther out from the hotel. And a bunch of great restaurants too, that are within a few miles of the hotel. I've listed a lot of them on the event website, so that people can get an idea of the area, if they've never been to Sturbridge before.

D: What makes your weekender unique from others going right now?

B: I really think the location organically directed the feel of Year One, and I'm really trying to keep that intact... The leaves changing, the lake, and the crisp Autumn air.. being able to take all that in during the day, and then see some really great bands in the evening and then dance until sunrise... It's a "New England vacation" with a focus on great music, and I think that's pretty special. I love Autumn in New England, and being able to see all my favorite bands and hang out all weekend in this sort of setting is great.

D: I know all of the bands you book are near and dear to your heart. But if you had to choose, what bands are you most looking forward to having this year? 

B: Oh geez... that's like picking a favorite child! I'm really happy with the entire lineup this year... it's only Year Two, and I'm thrilled that these bands on the bill want to be a part of this so early on. I look at the lineup as a whole... last year, and this year, when I was working on the lineups, I made playlists of everyone on the bill, in the order they will be playing, and listened through to make sure each night has a nice flow and progression... maybe other people don't care about that sort of thing, or don't notice... but I do! I'm looking forward to 'em all!

D: You definitely have a pretty stellar line-up this year. But I have seen you promoting some new seminars also. What differences can we expect from year one to year two? 

B: I've added a few things that I think are good additions to the weekend...

Sean Mencher is hosting a Guitar Seminar on Saturday, with a bunch of great guitarists. I'm excited for that. Al Hawkes, founder and CEO of Event Records, will be on hand to tell some stories and give the history of the label.

We've got a dance lesson on the Saturday as well.. which will be fun, and it'll help get more people comfortable enough to get out on the dance floor this year!

There's a Vintage Glamour Seminar on Friday night... Cherry Dollface and Jessica, owner of Bomber Betty Cosmetics, are running that.

D: How exciting! I can't wait to check those out. Any big worries this year, or has it been smooth sailing since you got year one under your belt?

B: My main worry is that honestly, I just feel a lot of pressure to make Year Two a good time for everyone. People spend their hard-earned money to fly in or drive and spend the weekend at this event I'm putting on, and I want people to feel like it was worth it, and that they are appreciated for being a part of it. I'm constantly tweaking things to try and make everything as comfortable and fun as I can for everyone. Year One was a great weekend, and I don't want to let anyone down with Year Two!

D: You are a Jill of all trades. I see that you do most of the design work for The Shake-Up yourself, and you also have some other side projects you are starting up. Tell us about those, specifically Bag
Lunch and North East Sparkly Things Fabrication Co. 

B: I'm a graphic designer by day, so I do all the design and branding for the Shake-Up.. which is helpful with promotion, because I can just whip up a graphic on the fly, if I need something.

Bag Lunch is a lip balm company I started over ten years ago... I hand pour everything and it's all natural. I started that in college, when I was in art school, and just kept with it over the years. It's fun, coming up with new flavors and designing labels in colors that relate to those flavors.

Northeast Sparkly Things Fabrication Co. kinda just grew unintentionally... Originally I thought it'd be neat to have a few confetti lucite bangles and earrings in "Shake-Up Teal" available as merch at the Shake-Up. I knew how to deal with resins and lucite from my art school days, so I was halfway there. Then I experimented a bit and poured a few in other colors. And of course, being a graphic designer, I thought it'd be fun to brand this stuff and give it a funny kitschy name and package it, so I designed some packaging for everything, and a logo. And there ya go. Now it's another thing on my plate.

I figure, when I get too busy, I'll just get a bigger plate.

D: I can feel you on that one! Any thing else you want to fill our readers in on?

B: "Support Music! Go see live music, buy albums and merch, get excited, and tell your friends."

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us! Make sure you check out the website for details on the band line-up, hotels, and to buy tickets. You can also get all the up to date news by checking out the Facebook page! 


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  1. Love this blog and what a wonderful interview! Beck is a dynamo and I can't wait to vend at the Show. I want to ditto what she said about supporting live music. Amen to that!

    1. Thanks for the kind words. We love Beck, she's awesome. And yes, go support live music!


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