---- — VALLEJO, Calif. — Brian Keith Baker, beloved community member and friend to all, was born May 5, 1965, in Coldwater. He grew up in Traverse City and attended East Bay Elementary, Traverse City Junior High and graduated in 1983 from Traverse City Senior High School. Brian is known and remembered for his smile, humor, sincerity, musical talent, love for dancing and open heart. During this time, Brian excelled in academics and participated in football, track and field, swimming and diving.
Soon after graduation from high school Brian found one of his true loves in life - the guitar. Brian pursued his passion for guitar and music at Michigan State University. His love for music, combined with the desire to work as a helping professional, lead him to a degree in music therapy, awarded to him in 1990. In seven years Brian had become an accomplished guitar player with virtuosity and a unique style.
After college Brian set off on a musical cultural adventure busking in the streets of Europe and traveling as far as the Middle East. His greatest musical influences were Michael Hedges, Neil Young, Frank Zappa, Al Di Meola and the Grateful Dead. He was a proficient classical guitarist and developed a percussive guitar style that incorporated the entire guitar - and when performing and recording with this unique style, he went by the moniker "the Guitarssionist".
Brian moved to San Francisco Bay Area in 1990 to pursue his profession and musical interests. For a period of time he lived atop the Santa Cruz Mountains, practicing his music for hours, and then descending from the mountain to provide music therapy to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Here, as reflected in all areas of his life, Brian practiced ardent self discipline. This discipline was reflected by his nutritional practices, athleticism and work ethic.
Brian founded the non-profit organization, Absolute Vibration, promoting "Music Therapy, Youth Wellness, Adult Wellness, and Drumming." Unique to his work were ecstatic rituals of dance, trance, drumming and singing. He led workshops in community drum building and drum circles, music CLASS (Community Learning and Social Service) and music lessons - all which he endorsed as therapeutic and community-based interactive musical experiences. The Advisory Board of Absolute Vibration include musical luminaries such as Wynton Marsalis (trumpeter), Arthur Hull (drummer), Christian McBride (bassist) and Stanley Jordan (guitarist).
Brian was a leader and integral in various communities in the Bay Area. He lived in Marin County, and most recently, Vallejo. He was an active member the ecstatic dance community and helped establish an ecstatic dance featuring live musicians. Brian played guitar, harmonica and electrified didgeridoo at these events. He was also known for his agile and expressive style of dance and was adept at salsa and contact improvisation. He was a practitioner of open-heart healing and a master of therapeutic touch. Brian also found community and ritual at festival gatherings such as Health and Harmony and Burning Man.
His beautiful life was shared by his family; his parents, Harold (Judy) Baker, of Coldwater, and Sally Stauffer (and the late Harry Stauffer), of Traverse City; sisters, Renee Baker Glezman and Rhonda (Scott) Baker Lammers; brother, Steve (Carol) Baker; stepsisters, Gloria (Roger) VanDeventer, Diane (Dave) Lash and Linda (Larry) Cuddington; many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews; and numerous friends and extended family from around the world.
Brian was taken by the ocean and left this earth on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, while on vacation in Kauai. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the family and friends of Adam Griffiths, Brian's friend who lost his life trying to save him. We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to Brian's many close friends on the West Coast who are assisting the family during this difficult time. The tears will eventually turn to smiles, as Brian would have wished this and his legacy will live on as we share memories and stories of his wonderful journey.
A memorial service will be held in Oakland, Calif., on Feb. 23. A Traverse City memorial will be announced at a later date.
Memorial contributions can be made (for the benefit of) "FBO Brian Baker" and mailed to Northwestern Bank, 203 S. Union St., Traverse City, MI 49684. The family will be making a donation from this fund to the Kauai Life Guard Association and the Kauai Fire Department/Rescue team.
He said it best himself in these lyrics written on a plane ride home following one of his visits to Traverse City.
by Brian Baker (July, 2009)
To all my family,
Honored is the black sheep for the patience you have shown me,
Throughout all my life.
For supporting me in my journey to find a little peace and serenity,
And for this, I thank YOU.
To all my friends
My gratitude will never end for all the time we spend year after year
So much joy and laughs as time passes by.
I spend every day "¦Forging my own way, on these memories that you give me.
And for this I thank YOU.
To my lovers
For all the lessons we discover, and for all the joy and sometimes tears,
And for challenging me to surrender deeper into love.
And sometimes for simply being the reason
To just wake up and face another day.
And for this I thank YOU.
Home is Where the Heart is.
At least for me that's true,
It sure feels like home,
When I'm with all of YOU.
I know I have a restless soul,
Chasing every dream down long and winding roads,
When all this time, my one dream that has really come true,
Is all of you.
(Thank YOU Brian, for all you gave and leave with us)