We know Bert Jackson as a tech guy. He was the Cape Cod Technology Council President for two years and is now Vice President. He has been a principal of web design firms for almost 20 years, with projects that run from the B&B down the street to the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. Recent projects with his current company, Koa Media, include Open Cape, Penikese Island School and some top secret things he can’t tell us about.
A lot of other people, however, know Bert as a musician. Throughout his career – from vegetarian restaurant owner in the Virgin Islands to web developer on the Cape – he has been in bands. His current band, the Bert Jackson Quartet (BJQ), released their first CD last fall and they are now busy writing music for a second. They play regularly in venues including Wellfleet Preservation Hall, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod and currently The Grand Cru in Hyannis.
How does music tie in with Bert’s tech career? Tightly.
The most obvious benefit is promotion. As you can imagine BJQ has a very, very good website (bertland.com), with music samples, upcoming gigs, bios, videos and a CD download. It is a website that, realistically, many local musicians could not afford.
But it works the other way around, too. As we’ve heard for years, studying music is beneficial to math skills. Music is “great fun, and extremely stimulating from a mental standpoint,” Bert said. “ I think it helps the technology end of things. At the Education Summit with the Tech Council, Bob Cody said, ‘we’re not talking about STEM, we’re talking about STEAM.’ Art stimulates the brain for learning, and keeps the brain active.”
If you look around, you’ll find a lot of technology people with a music background, and vice versa. Bert says he ran into guitarist Ben Kushigian at a bagel store in Orleans, working on some differential equations – for fun. “Ben is one of my favorite young guitar players,” Bert said. “He’s a very thoughtful player. He has a reason for everything he does. There’s definitely a connection between math and music.”
On the music-to-tech side, Bert references Dave Caolo, who went to Berklee College of Music. Dave is managing editor of The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW), produced by AOL. Bert says he frequently crosses paths with people who live in both worlds. It is not a coincidence.
Bert’s current band is: Bert Jackson (guitar, ukulele & vocals); Paul Lesniak (tenor and soprano sax); Roe Osborn (bass & vocals) and Kareem Sanjaghi (drums). They write and play original tunes and unusual jazz standards.
He says “playing music – especially the kind of music we play – I can almost physically feel my brain lighting up.”
Which explains a lot.
In addition to the Tech Council, Koa Media and his band, Bert is also the Council’s liaison to the Smarter Cape Partnership.
“I had a vision with the Tech Council when I was President. I wondered how we could get people from different walks of the community together at the same table. It turned out I was not the only one thinking that.” The time was right in 2011, when they put the first Smarter Cape Summit together in five weeks. There has been a SmarterCape Summit every year since then (this year it’s the Smarter Cape Economic Summit, in May).
“It’s a cool thing to be at the table with people from different parts of the community,” Bert says. “People who are impacting what’s going on and trying to make a positive difference, using technology and 21st century ideas to have the kind of control we need to maintain the things that are important to us. It’s pretty cool to be part of that.”
It’s pretty cool to be with the band.