Richard Bailey Of 242 Main
Words and Photos by Justin Landau. In photo, left to right: Richard Bailey, Mikey X, Justin Landau.
On December 19th, I had the privilege to speak to Richard Bailey, the head of 242 Main right before 242's 25th Anniversary show. For 25 years now, 242 has been a staple in the Burlington music scene, and speaking with Richard was enlightening, learning about 242 Main from its start, to where it is today.
Originally, the government struggled to find a use for the building that is 242 main, and bounced several ideas around, including transforming it into a Boys and Girls club. "As a kid, I used to go to shows at 242, and eventually got involved as a part time liaison/mediator, and was eventually hired as an administrator. The goal was to keep the place open and find an avenue for funding, but the original staff didn't jive. They cared about the shows, while the city wanted a place for kids to go after school. In the first year, we started a rock camp, which was funded through State grants from tobacco taxes, and funded youth events with the aim to be self sustaining. Bernie Sanders helped put the place together in the House of Representatives, and found a grant for after school activities."
In order to help keep 242 afloat and fund the rock camp, "I began writing grants, and currently have an 80 percent award rate, although lately I have not had to write as many." The rock camp holds programs both after school and during vacations and breaks. The past year rock camp taught 350 kids, including some from as far as England. "At the moment I see 242 Main as an events place, and want to keep the stage going. We want to keep the legacy of the place, and enlighten kids on the older generations. One of the main goals now is music education, and that is the fulfillment of my job, what I get back from the kids."
Mikey X is Richard's current assistant, his fifth in the past ten years. "He is more on the ground with the music scene, and the kids love him. He represents all the past assistants positives rolled into one, and has been a tremendous help. I constantly work with the state, lawyers, and insurance companies in regard to safety issues, and had to explain to the department that the kids like to wear ripped jeans and dance." The state currently employs the safety codes Richard wrote in other venues and programs as well. "The future goals are to continue educating kids in music, and progress professionally, and not manipulate the original aspect and purpose of 242 Main. Last summer we introduced a pilot rock camp program geared towards folk music, with great success, and we aim to attract more young people, and stay professional."
Big Heavy World would like to thank Richard, Mikey, and 242 main street for its continued contribution to the educating, development, and preservation of Vermont music. Happy 25th anniversary, and we hope to see 242 Main grow even more!