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On The Naming Of Things

An open beta also known as a public beta refers to beta testing that is open to any user, who is known as a beta tester. Closed beta refers to beta testing that is only available to a select few individuals or company employees only. Many games in development have an open beta for several months and allow anyone interested in the game to play and report problems.
www.computerhope.com/jargon/b/beta.htm

Open beta tests are phases that are open to any user who wishes to get involved… Public beta tests are most often used to promote and improve web sites and video games
www.centercode.com/beta/tests/public/

Change is hard.

When we first started out as a band, we really had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t know where we were going, where we *wanted* to go, or how to get there. What was this new thing going to be? Individually, we’d all played with different models; pub band, RenFaire act, bunch of friends getting together and screwing around…There are plenty of ways to sit down with a couple of people and make music. We didn’t really need much of a model, at first. Brian had a lot of rust to knock off of himself, Paul was fighting burnout after years of being a solo performer, Erin had to get used to the idea of a band where she actually had a voice (figuratively and literally). We all had some scars from prior experiences, stuff that happened with other groups that made each of us wary of starting something new. Heck, just learning how to play together, figuring out what we already knew in common, that took a while, and no small amount of effort.

We chose a name for ourselves,  “Talk A Little Treason” based on an in-joke between Brian and Paul, because we needed to call ourselves *something*, right? Taken from the movie “The Quiet Man“, our name reflected our Irish roots and our sense of humor. It generated some interest, sure enough. Quirky, a little edgy. We’ve gotten more questions about that name than pretty much anything else we’ve done. It was a good fit for us as we developed our sound, and came together as a band. Probably would have been a good name to continue with as a local Irish pub band.

Thing is, though…that’s not who we want to be.

The local music scene is very different from when we each started out, over a decade ago. Back then, there weren’t a lot of local bands playing Irish, and the demand for it was growing. The few bands in the area could rotate through the few venues in the area, play one pub for a month at a time, and then move on to the next. Bands like Carroll-McGregor, The ClareVoyants, The Hooligans, One-Eyed Fiona, On The Dole,  Blackwood…there was enough of the pie (Shepherd’s pie, of course) to go around. We could play, make a couple of hundred bob, keep ourselves in cigarettes and gas money and free beer, and have a grand time of it. Back then, it was all we wanted.

Times have changed. Most of the old pubs aren’t playing a lot of Irish anymore. Bands play at any of the old places once, maybe twice a month, then give way to other acts. Check out the schedule on any given month at O’Connor’s, for example. There’s more acts that want to play than there are available slots. We don’t see a lot of future in adding our name (whatever name) to that already-full roster. Not to mention, we don’t strictly play Irish music. Our growing list of music includes everything from Peter Gabriel to Dave Matthews Band to songs about zombies and Star Wars. Try playing that for a crowd expecting “Danny Boy”. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

Then there’s the question of where do we want to go from here? Even if the local scene were to return to its former heyday, is that what we want? A local band, playing a few weekends a month for beer & gas money? Do we want to identify ourselves as an Irish band at all? Let’s be honest, the closest any of us have gotten to Ireland is the East end of Long Island, NY. (That’s where Brian grew up, if you were wondering.) Don’t misunderstand, we love the music and the stories and the culture and the food & drink… but none of that makes us Irish. Cultural appropriation is a growing hot-button issue for a lot of folks. So why bill ourselves, shape ourselves, as something we’re not?

And how about that word, “Treason” ? Sure, there are all sorts of positive connotations to it and… wait. No, there aren’t. It’s a fairly ugly word. Synonymous with deceit, betrayal, duplicity. Is that what we want to be associated with? (Spoilers: No.)

So we decided, a month or two ago, that it was time for a change. And every time we got together since then, we’ve talked about who we want to be, what kind of music we want to play, what our goals are, and how we want to be perceived by fans and strangers alike. We talked about cultures and inclusion, music and marketabilty, zombies and superheroes… (C’mon…all work and no play makes for a dull band indeed.) As our music evolves, we need to evolve with it.

We knew early on we’d need a new name, and we’d have to select one that spoke about our viewpoint, furthered our goals, and didn’t get us involved in a legal battle over trademark & copyright. We went through a couple hundred ideas. Some were rejected out of hand. Others appealed, but are already in use by other groups. (Turns out there was already a band called The Beatles. Who knew?) We’re getting ready to expand beyond our little coffee shop home, so we needed to get this locked in sooner rather than later. It doesn’t make sense to start marketing ourselves on a larger stage, purchase promotional materials, design a logo and create merchandise, *then* change names. Finally, at rehearsal on Saturday, we hit on a couple that seemed to fit, names that we liked, names that were actually available for use. After some final brainstorming, we chose “Open Beta“.

Why?

We’re geeks. We’re nerds. We’re gamers. We read comic books and watch zombie movies. We have an easier time translating Klingon than Gaelic. We put on costumes and go to conventions. We stay up late, seriously and passionately debating who’s the better archer, Legolas or Hawkeye. We love Weird Al Yankovic and Bill Nye and Joss Whedon and Felicia Day. We spend as much time with computers as we do with our instruments. (And before you judge that last statement, how are you reading this again?)

Most of all, we’re a work in progress. Most likely we always will be. And we’d really like it if you joined us on this long strange journey.

(We’ll be building a new website over the coming week. When we get there, we’ll talk about what we’re about, what we’re looking to do, and more on this new name of ours. Check us out!)

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