Richard Hinton works with his hands — he’s an orthopedic surgeon and medical director of MedStar Sports Medicine.
The Catonsville man refers to himself as a lifelong singer, though not formally trained. Hinton has said he’s been singing and whistling to himself for decades, often in the car or in the shower.
Two years ago, he found an outlet to meld those two facets of his life when he joined up with music producers at SongBuilder Studios in Catonsville to create the Common Man Project, a nonprofit with a mission of inspiring people to work with their hands and “find joy, entertainment and well-being” through actions and activities, rather than passively consuming others’ “realities.” According to the Common Man Project website, the American culture needs “less watching — more doing, less consuming – more engagement.”
Also part of that mission is raising money, as well as bringing awareness to other nonprofits that encourage or fund artistic and creative endeavors.
To that end, Common Man Project is gearing up for its first fundraiser on Sept. 8 at Hayfields Country Club in Baltimore County to benefit an organization Hinton said matches Common Man’s mission: The Foundery, an industrial makerspace in South Baltimore. Hinton and the Common Man Project Band will perform their songs and tell stories in between sets.
The Foundery teaches classes in different crafts — like welding, ring making and woodwork — and has available industrial machines for individuals to rent out and use for their own purposes, like running a small crafting business.
Hinton said he likes The Foundery because it demonstrates concretely what the Common Man Project is all about: working with one’s hands to create something, and committing to that creative process.
“The Foundery is a very palpable, real-world example of what [The Common Man Project is] talking about. It's not just abut the ring or the thing you made in eight weeks, it's about then going back and committing to a process [and over] the next few years of continuing to grow that interest that you have.”
Hinton said he hopes the Common Man Project will help others realize they can pursue their artistic hobbies, too.
“I hadn’t done any of this until two years ago, so the concept is, 'well, look, if Hinton can do this, then maybe I can do something with my poetry or my woodsmithing or my social blogging,’” Hinton said.
Singing in the studio at SongBuilder was the first time he had ever really sung in front of other people, Hinton said, and certainly the first time the lyrics he wrote were set to professionally produced music.
Hinton describes his songs as “Indie-Americana.” They’re a little bit folksy, a little bit country, but they don’t easily fit into either genre. He said the politics of his music are hard to define, too.
“The music’s a little red, the lyrics [are] a little a blue,” he said, referring to the Republican and Democratic parties.
Hinton sings about living a straightforward and meaningful life, one that centers on working with one’s hands.
Hinton’s group has performed live together in small house shows, Hinton said, trying to garner a core group of support.
This is the Common Man Project’s first community fundraiser, and first show open to a large crowd. Hinton said they were thinking about what would come next, and that the nonprofit may try and do at least two big fundraisers each year.
“This is really the first year we're up and performing,” he said. “The question is, well, ‘does this thing get legs?’”
The Foundery opened in South Baltimore in 2016, though the business has existed since 2013.
Jason Hardebeck, executive director of The Foundery, said the core goal of the Common Man Project, getting people to work with their hands, really connects with the mission of his makerspace.
That connection exists, Hardebeck said, even though Hinton’s folk-Americana music isn’t the “normal genre” he’d choose to listen to.
“But the message and his lyrics resonate with The Foundery [and] me personally,” Hardebeck said.
Organizers said they hope about 150 people show up for the show and that all ticket proceeds will go back to The Foundery.
Tickets start at $50 and include access to an open bar and food. Pricier tickets, at $100 and $150, allow donors to sponsor individual students or apprenticeship classes at The Foundery, respectively.
Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.mt.cm/richard-hinton-common-man-project-band.