Picture this, it’s a balmy Saturday afternoon. The wind is just right and there’s a storm brewing in the distance, but there’s still some time yet to play outside. It’s a good day. It’s a call your crew, grab your bikes and head out the door for some good vibes kind of day, which is just about how it went down for Shenell Baker on this day in particular. She and her “Lowlife Bikes” crew (a unique-as-hell, custom-made, low-rider bike shop) made a plan to rally and ride, and we got the invite.
Immediately upon arrival, we were greeted with hearty handshakes, hugs and an overwhelming sense of family and camaraderie. Legit, so much fun!
After some low-rider cruising, bike-swapping shenanigans, we parked under a shade tree and had a chance to get to know the multi-faceted Shenell Baker a bit it better. Born on the north side of the Big Island, Kohala, Hawaii (“where everyone knows everybody”), a young Shenell grafted her love for music over the ravages of addiction and wayward youth, and set herself on a trajectory of healing and marked success through music. She says of her earlier start:
“Music saved my life. I was a complete drug addict. If it wasn’t for my son and my music I’d probably be doing the same thing, or I’d be dead. Music is what’ll save you… and it brings everyone together. Black, white, purple, yellow, green… we all vibe.”
Shenell’s first introduction to the music industry started with a “little band” called the Rolling Stones. Not a bad way to cut your teeth, in my opinion! While working at the Hilton as a runner, she was approached and asked of her interest in working behind the music scenes. Without a pause, she jumped on the offer. From there, her career in music production flourished. When asked to name-drop a couple of her favorite artists she’s worked for, she started counting them off with bands like Collie Buddz (who she considers “family”), Ian Young and Black Uhuru; her most favorite being Wyclef. She says of Wyclef, “That was my pinnacle!”
After 18 years in the business, Shenell’s creative wheelhouse is a multi-faceted affair: musician, lyricist, DJ, producer and an elemental backbone component of Deuterman Productions. There’s nothing she’s not into, music-wise, and there’s not an instrument she can’t play, “… except for a saxophone, or wind instruments in general,” she says with a big Shenell Baker laugh. That’s not her gig, and that’s cool too. She says of her many projects, “I’m an artist! I do everything, so I can never label myself as one thing. I like getting my hands on everything!” These days you can find her in the recording studio laying new sound and writing music for many of the artists you hear on radio today.
An overtone to the interview, which could hardly go unnoticed, was her sense of “crew” and her responsibility to pass on the blessings that helped improve her life.
Now, with many years in the business and a crew that works by her side, she feels an immense responsibility to empower the people around her to strive for greatness. “I don’t care if they climb higher than me. I’m proud. I want them to do better than me. If the opportunities come for you, don’t let them pass you by. Go for it! …As far as my boss goes, Robert Deuterman, he works side by side with us. And that’s what it’s all about. He’ll pick up trash with us. We respect him. He works hard and we’re good.” *throws up a shaka*
She says the production crews and the people who work behind the scenes are the hardest working people in the industry: “The people who promote the shows aren’t the one who make them happen, it’s the people behind the scenes: hospitality, door crew, runners, stagehands, audio crew, light crew, barricade builders, garbage pickers, porta-potty cleaners, bartenders, etc… These are the people who work their [butts] off. Nobody ever thanks them, but they’re the ones who make the concerts and festivals happen.” There’s no question she believes in the words she speaks. There’s a heartfelt sincerity to her message.
Shenell believes in the power of music, hard-working people and good vibes.
When we asked what it was about the Lowlife Bike crew she enjoyed most, she spoke of the hard work on the road. She echoed what many of us have lamented. She doesn’t want to hang out in smoky bars and spend her hard-earned money on booze and bad decisions. Shenell says on the matter, “I want to be outside with good vibes and good people. So we ride our bikes …” Her laughter is hearty, comes deep from her belly and it’s peppered between each of her thoughts. There wasn’t a moment in her interview she didn’t express deep conviction for her lifestyle. She’s casual and cool; even her voice has a melody to it. As I reviewed the audio recorded from our meeting, I found myself chuckling along with her. As an artist, she’s core. Her roots are music and family. As a person, she’s just plain rad.
We asked her where her favorite place to listen to music was and we couldn’t have loved her answer more:
“The best place to listen to music is COCOA BEACH! You can have the most donkest bands playing and you’re still going to have a good time! It doesn’t matter if they’re good or not, you’re still going to have fun in Cocoa Beach, regardless!”
For more information on Lowlife Bikes, visit them online at lowlifebikes.com.
There are so many great beachside residents on which to report. However, I had only to look across the office from where I sit every day to find one great American / beachside resident I am proud to report on. Being that I am the Editor-in-Chief for this rag, I have decided to take it upon myself, amidst much protest from the man himself, to bring to light someone I am proud of. He’s a moderately modest man who doesn’t often get the accolades he deserves. Outside from being my boss and friend, he is (most importantly) a decorated combat U.S. Marine veteran, and his story deserves to be heard.
So who is Mr. Beachside? Well, that’s Craig Harriman. Craig was born in Belfast, Maine. He spent the majority of his childhood riding four-wheelers, hunting, camping, fishing and exploring the great outdoors. His family owned a True Value hardware store for 20+ years, where he learned much of his work ethic. He fast-tracked through high school, graduating in just three years, followed by two years at Southern Maine Community College. In 2001 he signed up for the delayed entry program with the United States Marine Corps, with an M.O.S. of Presidential Security Forces.
On September 11, 2001, while attending college, he watched as two planes collided with the Twin Towers. Immediately, he made a willful choice to approach his recruiter and enlist. By the second day of the new year, 2002 , he was standing on the yellow footprints at Paris Island, South Carolina. After 13 weeks, he graduated from Boot Camp, and was soon after shipped to the School of Infantry where he specialized as a heavy machine gunner. After graduating the School of Infantry, he attended the Marine Corps Security Forces school where he specialized in close quarters battle (CQB). After graduation, he received his first orders to Washington State where he worked in classified operations. After two years of being an operator, Craig was promoted to Security Force Instructor where he spent a little over a year training students in CQB, physical security, and other special tactics. While at this duty station, he also received his 1st Instructor black belt in the Marine Corps Mixed Martial Arts program.
In late 2004, he received orders to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and was assigned to a special unit preparing for deployment to the Iraq war. Tasked as a small unit leader for a combined anti-armor team, he specialized in transportation of high-risk personnel and high level dignitary security. He served two back-to-back tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), in addition to a classified area near Sadr City Baghdad. After the war, he received orders to Brunswick Naval Air Station where he served as an Infantry Inspector Instructor. His primary duty was to train infantry reserve units to fight in combat. His secondary duty was to serve as head of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program for the state of Maine, raising money for children in need during the holiday season. He was also assigned duty as casualty notification wherein he was responsible for family notifications of killed in action (KIA) Marines or deceased Marines. Essentially, once the Marine’s body came off the plane, it was in his stewardship until it was laid to rest. He has ushered many of our fallen heroes to their final resting spots and attended many funerals.
While stationed in Maine, he received medical treatment for injuries he sustained in 2010 and was medically retired. That year, he left the state of Maine and headed to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as a federal police officer. There, he was assigned a few very prestigious special assignments. When Obama came to Kennedy Space Center in 2012, Craig was selected to drive the lead security vehicle in his convoy.
During his years at the Air Force Station, he worked many launches. He even worked special detail on the last couple shuttle launches in history. Some days he gets that far-away look on his face and regales his excitement in meeting the many astronauts and dignitaries who shook his hand over the years.
In 2012, he took over representation of The Beachside Resident syndication, where he learned his passion for storytelling and reporting. Nearly simultaneously, in 2013, he stepped into the private sector and began work renovating and revitalizing properties within the greater Cocoa Beach area. I’m often in awe of the dedication it must’ve taken to operate a publication and transition to the private arena at the same time. I’ve transitioned out of the military myself; going to the mall to buy new sneakers nearly broke me.
As though that weren’t enough, within that year, he also created the Cocoa Beach Friday Fest, which still exists today, and attended the Florida Main Street conference where he helped establish the Cocoa Beach Main Street program. Craig has served as the Marketing Director/Production Manager on local events like the Cocoa Beach Art Show, Thunder on Cocoa Beach and The Legend of the Seagullmen. Some of the events he’s partnered with are Surfing Santas, Operation Surf and Surfers for Autism. In 2017, he started the Eastern Pro/AM and served as the Executive Director for the event.
Recently he’s worked on many community revitalization projects. Craig has helped incubate over 13 local businesses within the downtown Cocoa Beach community, and is also the founder of Mai Tiki Market. This year, The Beachside Resident hosted our first annual Mai Tiki Carving Contest where we gave $5,000 in prize money to the best tiki carvers in the country.
Craig’s concept for a tiki carving contest was a hit with the community. In fact, we’ve scheduled April 20, 2019 for the second annual event, so now it’s a thing. This guy is a maverick when it comes to brainstorming and fund-raising and we couldn’t be more proud of him for the events he’s conceived of and cultivated. Not to brag, but Craig has even served as a Board of Director for a couple years on the Cocoa Beach Kiwanis Club. Last year he helped lead the charge in raising over $10,000 for the Cocoa Beach Roosevelt playground.
His passions include skateboarding, surfing, VW’s, woodworking and reggae music. He is a father of two beautiful girls. He has a gorgeous girlfriend who pierces the masses with her custom jewelry (Whitney Bailey, Endless Summer Tattoo), three dogs, three chickens, five fish and one fine pig named Hammy.
Craig is an environmentalist at heart with a goal to better our environmental guardianship. He has a great passion for the ocean, and especially our lagoon. He plans to use his platform with Beachside Media and The Beachside Resident to raise awareness about local beachside subjects that affect us all. Craig believes in our community and that ultimately, the change must start with us.