Less than 24 hours before TED and just a few miles away in sunny Beverly Hills, the TED2012 house band gathers for its third day of rehearsal. It’s a very cool group of dudes, jamming away in the hidden, but fascinating Gibson Showcase Theater, where guitars of the one-of-a-kind variety dangle from the walls, threatening to fill the room with the sound of music legends of the past. Tonight, though, they’d have have quite a bit of competition.
TED’s music director, Thomas Dolby, organized this year’s house band from fellow TEDsters. The final seven are, for the most part, amateur musicians, but that hasn’t stopped them from performing with the likes of David Bowie, Phil Collins, and Les Paul. In fact, nearly all of them are entrepreneurs and innovators; some have even been on the TED stage!
In the last three days these guys have met (yes, for the first time), arranged a set list, practiced, and rehearsed for hours on end. Yet, they’ve already formed great friendships through their love of music. “One of the most amazing things about music is how quickly you get into am intimate relationship with people you play with,” says guitarist Fred Goldring. “It’s a pretty amazing way to connect with people.” Thanks to the great talent of these musicians, paired with the musical genius that is Thomas Dolby, they are about to put on a great show.
Let’s meet our TED2012 House Band:
Day Job: Entrepreneur, Investor, Music & Entertainment Lawyer, Advisor to the White House
Favorite musical moment: Playing with George Clinton at the House of Blues
TED is: a bunch of the best college courses you never knew you needed taught by the best professors you never knew existed. It’s also where a friend and I came up with the Safe Shake.
Recently played on my iPod: Gary Clarke Jr. (His album’s not released yet, but look out for him playing for the White House tonight at 9PM on PBS).
Currently working on: An intiative to focus the country on the importance of art education and integrating that into basic systems. As an advisor on President Obama’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, we’re trying to get the United States to move away from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and into STEAM (add art!).
Day Job: Founder of Thuuz, an app that will curate your own personalized sports network
Favorite musical moment: When my band (we’re called UnderCover) played at the Great American Music Hall last year and I got to sing lead vocals for “Love Shack” by the B52s.
TED is: eye-opening. And such a departure from what I do on a daily basis. It’s really nice to take a week out and completely shift context to think about how we can make social impact.
If I could perform for the world, I would play: “Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)” by Greenday
Day Job: President and CEO of lynda.com
Favorite musical moment: Playing in the house band for the Queen’s Jubilee ten years ago backing Phil Collins, Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, Annie Lennox, and Tony Bennett.
TED is: inspiration, being introduced to subject matter I know very little about, and meeting amazing people.
I geek out when: I am talking to other geeks.
If I could perform for the world, I would play: the jazz classic Night and Day
Before I die, I want to: live
Day Job: Entrepreneur, and the principal of Zygote Ventures
Favorite musical moment: Conducting the Oakland symphony for a benefit concert
TED is: something that has altered my life. I heard a couple of talks by Juan Enriquez and James Watson, which made me realize that I really needed to learn more about biology. That led me to the next company I got engaged in, called Solazyme.
Recently played on my iPod: Albinoni oboe concertos
Before I die I want to: reach immortality (just kidding)
Day Job: Electronic and communications engineer; Co-Founder of Polycom, a video conferencing and telepresence system (we’ll be using it this week to talk to TEDActive)
Favorite musical moment: I gave a concert in San Francisco about nine years ago, mostly my own compositions. When I went up on stage and sat down on the bench, I misjudged distances, slid off the end, fell down, cracked my knee, and spent the whole performance in considerable pain. But, you’d be surprised what a cure that is for any residual stagefright.
If I could perform for the world, I would play: A musical that I have been writing over the past five years called “Railroad.” It’s still lingering in pre-production, but I see it on the horizon.
I geek out when: Because I am a nerd professionally, I have enough of that during the day. When I have time, I spend the time in music.
Before I die, I want to: have helped create a world in which people communicate more clearly and more completely than they do today.
Day Job: CEO of Millennia Media, designer and manufacturer or audio gear
Favorite musical moment: Staying up all night in a hotel room jamming with Les Paul until five in the morning.
Recently played on my iPod: Philosophy lectures
I geek out when: I think about inventing software and hardware. I invented an intelligent outlet and talked about it at TED.
Before I die, I want to: achieve as many life goals as I can. And I’ve got a lot left.
Matthew Seligman (Not Pictured)
Instrument: Bass guitar
Day Job: Human rights lawyer specializing in mental health
Favorite onstage moment: Playing at Live Aid with David Bowie. “We flew in on a helicopter and performed. That was my 15 minutes of fame and it lasted exactly 15 minutes.
Recently played on my iPod: Oceanea by Thomas Dolby
Before I die, I want to: be a good father to my daughter and a good partner for my wife.
Photos: Benny Haddad