GOT GRIND?

 

Labour day. Work. Jobs. Holiday. Day off. Time and a half. This day lends itself to many thoughts, meaning many different things for many a different folks. Just so happens I’ve been thinking a lot about my jobs lately. I have three. I work a record store. I work a bar and I work for myself in music. I don’t do any of these gigs because i have to. I do them all because i want to. Each one gives me something i need or desire in return and as a result, i enjoy these various jobs. My Dad was a “workaholic”. My mom too. I don’t view that word poorly, as some may. Both my parents worked hard at their jobs because they seemed to enjoy them, or that’s how i perceived it. This was not lost on me as a youth and certainly not as an adult. I’m pretty fortunate to say that there have been only a few times I’ve done a job that i didn’t like or want to do. Those ones always filter themselves out though. So I believe I come by my work ethic naturally. I was instilled with values. An appreciation for hard work, follow through. Respect for a job well done. These traits have been a great asset to me in my life and likely, at times, a real pain in the ass to other folks that i’ve worked with. Be it in my own business or working with coworker in someone else’s business. I can be demanding. I’ve mellowed as I’ve aged, yet I still have high expectations. When it’s something I care deeply about, only the best is good enough. I will drive myself crazy to get it done. To sweat it out until it is just how I desired. Grind. That’s right. Grind people. Follow though. To me, this is the ability persevere. To triumph adversity. To fail and continue on in the face of defeat. Rise above. Grind. It. Out. I got grind. I don’t need to convince you and have you agree with me for me to know this. The truth is not dependent on your belief in it. My resume from the past ten years tells the truth. The respect I have from my peers tell the truth. That is enough for me.

So why the diatribe? I’ve been working at The Snooty Fox again lately. I took an eight year break from bar tending. Then I found myself single again, back in Fredericton with some downtime and needing a break form music. I was all too happy to accept the job offer from my old friends, Kyle and Krista, owners of The Snooty. This has been a real blessing. It reminded me how much of a social creature i am, even though at times i like to hide away. It also reminded me how much i need human interaction to aid in my writing. It reminded me how great it is to pay off bills again. I have met some great folks from bar tending there. I love them all. Such Characters. A couple of these folks in particular set me to thinking about GRIND lately. It has become apparent that GRIND is a thing that seems to be missing in society today. The willingness to follow through. to see it go the distance regardless of outcome. Where has that gone?

Society seems all too quick now, to accept the instant, temporary, satisfaction of a lesser quality product. I too, have been guilty of this. I had a revelation while streaming the first four episodes of Game of Thrones when it was leaked online. The quality was terrible yet i wanted that immediate, temporary satisfaction of seeing all four episodes NOW!!! Instead, i should have waited. Watched them as they aired. Enjoyed the suspense. Watched the masterful videography in HD quality, as it was intended to be enjoyed. But no. I wanted it NOW! This woke me up. The world is deep under the wheels of this bus. Jobs. Food. Relationships. LIFE. We all want that quick, temporary satisfaction. Even if it’s not the high quality long time satisfying feeling we could have if we Grinded it out. Waited, were PATIENT.

Last month I had two gig cancellations in the same week. This amounted to the lose of $2000.00 for my business. That spins out into two employees losing money and a variety of local businesses not getting my hard earned money and had I not taken the job at Snooty Fox it most certainly would have meant I could not have paid my bills that month and I CERTAINLY wouldn’t have been able to afford to paint my house. I lost one gig after I had been under the impression we were confirmed, when the “council” decided to go with another band. One month before the Scheduled gig. Disappointing for sure. But as I was told “such is life”. Can you imagine trying to use that phrase with your plumber? Your banker? Your boss? Your employees? The second gig was cancelled less that two weeks before the event. This gig was for a beer festival and was on a Saturday. PRIME booking night. At less than two weeks to gig day it would be impossible to re-book the show. The reason for cancelling? The presenter decided to cancel then, rather than closer to the day of the event. It seems that the presenter booked seven bands, organized a one day event at their business, which would spin off into many other financial obligations, and the entire time, at the back of their mind they thought “well if it looks like I’ll take a loss, I’ll just cancel”. Grind? I think not. So, the business cancelled, saving their own asses yet at the full expense of everyone else involved. Not to mention I found out about the cancellation by seeing they had cancelled the event on facebook! This my friends, is the opposite of grind. I have booked many national tours, produced many shows. Very few have been what I would call profitable. Many have broken even but a handful cost me my shirt. I never ever thought it was ok to put my tail between my legs and screw my employees or other business associates over and pull the plug and go home. I always found a way to pay who needed to be paid and I always looked back and learned a lesson. Now, I know not every single human is ignorant of this. I know many people who have grind. In fact, when I look around, I see that I have in fact, surrounded myself with people who have grind. I don’t think this was intentional per se, but it sure does make me happy to see my peers busting ass and doing what needs to be done at their OWN expense.

I used to take every gig I could because I loved playing that much. Then I took every gig I could because I needed to pay my bills. That was a dangerous place to be and nearly ruined music for me. Now that I have a bar tending gig again I don’t have to take any gigs I don’t think will be emotionally or financially rewarding. This has been a real blessing. After Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival I will be taking the least amount of gigs I have done in a decade as I take the fall off. Oh, I know what you’re  thinking…”that doesn’t sound like grind”… fear not my friends. Grind takes place above and below the surface. Don’t think for a second that I don’t have a plan. I’m still working on music. There will be new music from me in 2016. I’m also, and most important, working on me. Searching deep. Asking the tough questions. Finding out who I really am. What it is I really need and want. Passing over the immediate, temporary satisfaction. I’m Grinding it out to get to the good stuff. The long lasting, satisfying stuff. How about you?

Stay good. Grind on,

Ross

 

PS…shout out to Kevy and Joe Paw for making me thing about Grind.

PPS. I know that things are rarely as they appear and sometimes there are things happening that leave people to make decisions  out of their control. This is not lost on me. I try to be seeing the big picture all the time. However, there is always a big picture on the other side of the coin too. This is MY side of the coin.

Food, the vote, last minute shows.

What a weekend. So much driving. Lots of play too though. Got to do some fun sows with Chris Colepaugh and his Crew on Friday and Saturday. Loved it! so nice to play with this guy. He really is the best kept secret around here. He has been rocking it for well over ten years and it shows. He is a total pro with one helluva live show. If you haven’t seen it you just HAVE too. Plain and simple. I also did a few solo sets in Halifax at Saltscapes Expo. There were fun too. I love promoting NB and had a ball playing for the folks there. thanks to Harvest and the province for including me. I got some crazy good hot sauce from Amiel’s Island Fire, caught up with the Hot Lollies and reconnected with old friends form Treat shoppe by the Sea. Oh, and drank some Propeller Pilsner (YUM) and tried Bacon Jam for the first (not last) time. Life Changing!!!!

Man, what a weird day today. Vote day in Canada. I’ve been enjoying talking with friends who share different views on the election today. Hard to argue with a few of ’em who don’t want to cast a ballot. I personally think everyone should. Even if you spoil it. Thing is though, I find most people cast a ballot and then think their duty is done. Then the politician goes on the screw up and peeps bitch about it around the kitchen table. You know what folks, here is what I think….The actual casting of the ballot is an integral but TINY part of the process. The real important part is the follow up. Hold those people you vote for accountable. In our complacent society people seem fine to just be disappointed. Those folks you vote for are working FOR you though. Which means YOU can hold them accountable. Instead of crying around the campfire about johnny politic screwing up “the system” why not call his office and ask to have a chit chat. Email him, write a letter. Friggin’ harass that guy. Cause that is well within your rights. Call him out on his short comings. That’s OUR job. We need to do this. Death to complacency and re-birth to accountability. I refuse to lie down and say “well that’s just how it is” or “some new asshole is gonna do that same thing”. Let’s all try and start holding these jokers responsible for a change? Wouldn’t that be a switch? Fingers crossed it’s not Harper we’ll have to hold responsible.

Osama. Wow. I woke up to that news. Weird. I don’t get it. Overboard with the body? hmmmm. The dog seems to be getting wagged a touch here. I saw a pic of a bunch of fire fighters watching a news ticker saying Osama was dead. Fist pumps in the air etc. The caption said “closure”. Really? just like that? I’m not from NYC and certainly not a fire fighter but is this news really all it took for closure? i don’t want to sem disrespectful to those folks who were there and worked the scene cause i have nothing but respect for them but is anyone doubting the validity of it all? It’s all very odd. Celebration of the death of a death dealer. It’s strange to me. Just out of the blue like that too.

On a lighter note I want to mention that in my ECMA post I forgot about the very best thing that whole week. The Bastards and I went to Claddagh Oyster House to eat. You see my old pal Paul is the chef there. Let me tell you this, BEST DINNER EVER! I didn’t get a pic of the first course but it was pork belly braised in a guinness sauce. Yeah. I know. That was the first course. of SEVEN!! Pics don’t do it justice but check it….

Lobster Gnocchi!!!


Oysters. Raw, Rockefeller and Bruscetta (i think)


Fancy Mussels!


Beef Tenderloin and fancy mashed!!!


Southern Fried Chicken. This may have been my fav. INCREDIBLE


Pork Tenderloin

It was just ridiculous. the whole thing. The service was great and the food knocked us out! thanks so much to Paul and his team. Way beyond top shelf guys!

Ok, so last but not least I just added to short notice gigs. This THURSDAY may 5th I’m performing solo at The Shiretown Pub in Hampton NB. This is a nice, brand new pub and I’m looking forward to playing there. I booked the same room for Saturday May 21st only with The Bastards. $5 for Thursday and $10 for Saturday. Please help spread the word! Hope to see you there!

Ross

PS…it’s fiddlehead season. Yes!!!

On Tour: One hand clap no more Kelowna

Our first tour of Canada we played a pub in Kelowna. It was a soul sucking gut wrenching experience. It was busy but full of teeny bopper kids that were there to score chemicals and booty. There were a few ‘working girls’ too if I recall. We left everything we had on that stage and the kids were semi indifferent until the end of the night where everyone tells you how great it was. This example best sums up the experience….
Mid Performance …….
ME – Who wants free booze (we were sponsored by Sailor Jerry)
Crowd – Silence

I mean really? Most spots would claw over each other to taste the goods. We learned to suck it up on that gig. Later when we were back at the Kelowna Villa licking our wounds we were reminded of the Joel Plaskett tune where he references Kelowna with the line “picture the sound of one hand clapping, now picture half that sound, Thats why I hate that town”. This made us feel moderately better.

The second time we performed at a venue designed for mamby pamby soft spoken kind of acts. The sort of place where the owner is actually afraid of the drums and INSISTS on doing the sound even though they don’t know anything about that tedious, technical assembly of sonic science. The room was full of speakers which is fine if everything is mic’d but if not you have vocal and acoustic blaring at the back of the room with the drums and bass way at the front. Brilliant. We realized that That room was also not for us and thought maybe we would have to skip Kelowna next tour. This was a bummer as I had lived here years before and still had lots of friends and family that wanted to see us perform.

Not too long ago I was relating our Kelowna experience to someone and including the Plaskett story when I was informed that Joel no longer sings it like that and has made amends with Kelowna. Confused and feeling defeated I thought, “Well you can’t please em all and maybe Kelowna just isn’t for us”.

I had known about The Blue Gator Bar from my old days living in Ktown and performing with Dog Skin Suit. It was in a new location now and at our previous gigs we were told by our friends that we had to play there. So after much emailing and rustling I finally got us in there. Last night was our first of two nights. It was amazing. Dancers right on the first tune. Great crowd that ate up the originals all night long. Good Staff and a nice owner. All the things you want in a gig. It is clear that this venue is going into the list beside Mikey’s in Calgary, Blues on Whtye in Edmonton, Buds in Toon town, The “Ho” in Canmore, Tofino and a few other venues we play that just kick ass. A fine mix of people and no pretentiousness, except for a few hipsters. It was like old home week for me as I got to reconnect with lots of old friends and got to hang with some family too!

I guess things really do change and you just need to keep looking. Don’t take defeat. Don’t lie down. Stand up, dust yourself off and try harder. Like my mentor and friend Morgan Davis says – “keep pushing up on it”. Thats good advice I think about everyday.

There are some funny circles in life that appear to run a lot of things, but just underneath where they spin their wheels there is something else, a dark cool place where Real resides. A place where what you get IS what you see. Where people ARE who they are crazy or sane. Where true effort is recognized and applauded. This is where we spin our wheels. It’s a heavy load but we’ll keep pushing up. One bleeding set of ears at a time.