Interviewed by Christine Churchill
OA: How did you come to Orient?
Gideon: I discovered Orient in 2007 after I met Liz, my wife of eleven years. She was living in Orient and writing her first book. We ended up getting married out here in 2009, holding the rehearsal dinner at the yacht club and our reception at Poquatuck Hall.
OA: What do you find special about the Oysterponds community?
Gideon: There is so much community activity—it’s a real village that’s just the right size, and people really engage. You’re able to take action and see things happen.
OA: Song Swap just celebrated its 10th anniversary.
How did it come into being, and what makes it unique?
Gideon: Long ago I’d gone to Poetry Night, put together by Linton Duell. I enjoyed it a lot and thought about how to create something with music—a song night. I got in touch with Anne MacKay—the music matriarch of Orient—and together, we kicked off the first Song Swap. It’s unique because it’s part talent show, part curated event. It’s us for us—we are the audience as well as the performers, and everyone gets recognition.
OA: By profession, you’re a digital experience designer, working with architects to create social spaces that promote interaction and discovery (in an all-too-brief nutshell.) How do you find time to produce an event of this scope each year?
Gideon: Volunteering is part of our household culture and I find that doing the work is energizing. I’ve gotten a format that’s by now pretty systematic, and mine is a catalyst function—there are dozens of volunteers that help with the space, the audio, the baked goods, etc.
OA: What role can music play in helping us all get through COVID-19?
Gideon: We’ve lost some great musical influences recently—John Prine, who died at age 73 of Coronavirus, and Bill Withers, whose uplifting songs I love. It’s a good time to learn an instrument, and in general, try new things—whether it’s picking up a sketchbook or listening to music outside your usual playlist.
Since the Hall is closed for now, our zoom song swap [was] a way to try something new. With these current new norms its uncharted territory!
OA: Song Swap has raised money in support of Poquatuck Hall. This mini version is dedicated to raising money for CAST. Why is that so important?
Gideon: We joined a grassroots movement galvanized by Dave Kapell. CAST does amazing work for those in need. If you want to visit the GO FUND ME site created to help folks get through, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/1xldb058s0
Gideon, Liz and Bella
photo: Holly Mastrangelo