Ken Field – Do what you love and love what you do

“I’m extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love doing full-time.”

Can you tell me about your background?

I majored in computer science at Brown University in Providence, and worked in the area of digital speech processing for many years at the Cambridge research firm of Bolt Beranek & Newman.  I made the switch to full-time musician/composer about 15 years ago.  I originally came to the Boston area to study at Berklee College of Music, where I was a student of the late and legendary sax teacher Joe Viola.


Can you share an unforgettable story happened during your life in Boston?

My band the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble played for a few years outdoors at First Night in the Parkman Bandstand in Boston Common. Artist/musician Max Azanow (also the leader of the quirky  band the Bad Art Ensemble) decorated the bandstand with over-the-top beads, lights, and objects.  As you can imagine, it was quite frigid, but the huge First Night crowds were amazing, the spectacle was awesome, the music was funky, and despite a literally frozen horn, it was really quite a great time.

When and why did you start being a volunteer in HONK? Any story behind it?

I’ve been a part of the volunteer organizing committee for the past 9 years.  The HONK! Festival was started 10 years ago by a group of musicians from the Somerville-based Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band.  That group was formed specifically to lend their music to social & political activism.  They realized that there were other such musical groups that were formed primarily to support activist causes and to effect positive change in their communities, and they decided to invite 12 of those bands from all over the country to Somerville’s Davis Square for a weekend – the first HONK! Festival. That turned in to an annual event which now brings over 25 activist and community bands, over 600 musicians, to Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston for the HONK! Festival on a long weekend in October.  Our Festival has spawned other HONK! festivals in NYC, Providence, Austin, Seattle, and as far away as Brazil & Australia.

Who/what inspired you to become the person you are today?

Everything!  But I’m particularly inspired by my late wife, animator Karen Aqua, who ignored obstacles to reach her professional and personal goals, and by my lovely and brilliant partner Cecily Miller, who shows me daily how to enjoy this rare and precious life I’ve been granted.


What are your passions in life?

I play saxophone & flute and write music.  I’m extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love doing full-time.


What does Boston mean to you?

Boston is my home.  I could enjoy a bit less snow shoveling, but I love the seasons, the biking, the music, the Charles, my neighborhood and neighbors in Cambridge, and the greater Boston creative community.



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