The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #120296 Message #2614965
Posted By: Wesley S
20-Apr-09 - 01:47 PM
Thread Name: Interesting careers AFTER music
Subject: Interesting careers AFTER music
I don't know if many of you are familar with a musician named Skunk Baxter - but he's an excellent guitarist that played on many of the most popular recordings by Steely Dan and later - The Doobie Brothers. He was appearing at the Dallas Guitar show over the weekend and his bio in the program mentioned what he had been up to lately. I thought it was a joke. It wasn't. So I was wondering if you kew of any other musicians who went to do something interesting and different than their work in music.
Anyway - about Skunk Baxter:
Defense consulting career
Baxter fell into his second profession almost by accident. In the mid-1980s, Baxter's interest in music recording technology led him to wonder about hardware and software that was originally developed for military use, i.e. data-compression algorithms and large-capacity storage devices. As it happened, his next-door neighbor was a retired engineer who had worked on the Sidewinder missile program. This neighbor bought Baxter a subscription to an aviation magazine, provoking his interest in additional military-oriented publications and missile defense systems in particular. He became self-taught in this area, and at one point he wrote a five-page paper that proposed converting the ship-based anti-aircraft Aegis missile into a rudimentary missile defense system. He gave the paper to California Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and his career as a defense consultant began.
Backed by several influential Capitol Hill lawmakers, Baxter received a series of classified security clearances. In 1995, Pennsylvania Republican congressman Curt Weldon, then the chairman of the House Military Research and Development Subcommittee, nominated Baxter to chair the Civilian Advisory Board for Ballistic Missile Defense.
Baxter's work with that panel led to consulting contracts with the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He now consults to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. intelligence community, as well as for defense-oriented manufacturers including Science Applications International Corporation ("SAIC"), Northrop Grumman Corp. and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. He has been quoted as saying his unconventional approach to thinking about terrorism, tied to his interest in technology, is a major reason he became sought after by the government.
"We thought turntables were for playing records until rappers began to use them as instruments, and we thought airplanes were for carrying passengers until terrorists realized they could be used as missiles," he has said. "My big thing is to look at existing technologies and try to see other ways they can be used, which happens in music all the time and happens to be what terrorists are incredibly good at."
Baxter has also appeared in public debates and as a guest on CNN and Fox News Channel advocating missile defense. He served as a national spokesman for Americans for Missile Defense, a coalition of organizations devoted to the issue.
In April 2005, he joined the NASA Exploration Systems Advisory Committee (ESAC).
Baxter was a member of an independent study group that produced the "Civil Applications Committee Blue Ribbon Study" recommending an increased domestic role for U.S. spy satellites in September 2005. This study was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on August 15, 2007.
He continues accepting studio work; his most recent such work involved tribute albums to Pink Floyd and Aerosmith. He also occasionally plays in The Coalition of the Willing, a band comprising Andras Simonyi, Hungarian Ambassador to the United States; Alexander Vershbow, US Ambassador to South Korea; Daniel B. Poneman, formerly of the United States National Security Council and now of The Scowcroft Group; and Lincoln Bloomfield, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. On June 19, 2007, Baxter jammed with former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's band Beats Workin at the Congressional Picnic held on the South Lawn of the White House.