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.

All Good Things….

….Must come to an end.

Well folks we made it home from a ten week tour alive. We had good times, some great shows (like our tour finale in Quebec City with two standing O’s) and of course had the flip side to all that as well. Before I get to the meat of this post I want to thank everyone who gave us food and shelter along the way and of course all the clubs who gave us shows and peeps who came to said shows!

However….

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the parting of Shawn Bastard from our current line up. Shawn and I have played together for 13 years so believe me when I say that this is not an easy time in my life right now. I’m sure it won’t be but a blink of an eye before you see him rawking a stage somewhere with someone and considering he is one of Canada’s best on the low end, I’m sure he’s already in demand. Karl Gans and myself will continue to make music in some fashion or another over the coming months. Spring tour and band shows are still scheduled as planned for 2012. You can check Karl and I out in Duo form this weekend in St Andrews NB. Of course, since it won’t be the same without Shawn I’ll be dropping the moniker “& The Sufferin’ Bastards”. You’ll be able to find all things related to me musically under my very own name. Not too clever i realize but it works. Website will remain the same but eventually the band Facebook page will go away and I will have a new Ross Neilsen Music related FB page.

Currently I’m booking my solo tour for the first quarter of 2012 and there are a few shows listed in the tour dates section of this site now. Stay tuned for more shows in Ontario in March. I’m also going to be woodshedding hard to get ready to head to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge where I’ll represent Harvest Jazz and Blues Fest in the solo/Duo category. I’m very excited to head back to the land of Blues and BBQ! There will be a fundraiser event at Dolan’s Pub on January 18th at 7.30pm. I hope y’all can come and help a fellow out so I can afford to head south with out too much overhead. It’ll be two sets of solo material spanning the past 6 years and who knows, maybe a guest or two?

Before I go get into “the medicine” I’d just like to say what a pleasure and honour it’s been to have such a great band and even more so, such a loyal base of friends, family and fans. I really do believe we wouldn’t be anywhere without the support we receive from y’all and while we weather this shit storm I just want everyone to know that we’ve appreciated every single time you’ve been there for us. While right now I am struggling to control my emotions, know that I will turn this into an opportunity to re-collect myself and continue to put out new and exciting music with the same high quality shows/music you’ve been used to in the past.

Your’s in music,

Ross

Pure Rawk Fury Update #1

Hello friends

Well we’ve been out for about three weeks. We’re currently in Lethbridge Alberta at the man with no name’s house. We’re chilling before we load into the Slice for tonights rawking!

We have had a great tour so far. LOTS of nice weather. Last trip we discovered a great way to get around northern Ontario and we did the same this trip. Nice and slow, stopping in little towns to play shows in the evening to kill our expenses and keep us driving short, day light, hours to the next show. It takes twice as long but in the end it’s much more relaxing and we’ve met some wonderful folks in these towns. After our second show of the tour we stayed another night in Lavigne to relax before we got into the meat Northern Ontario. We got a lovely tour du lac from Jo and Manfred. Again, it was a beautiful day on lake Nippissing.

The good weather didn’t stop there. We had low twenties all the way around Superior which prompted Shawn Bastard and I to take a dip in the Great Lake. It was cold, I can tell you that, but refreshing.

We played our way out of Ontario in a new venue for us, Shooters in Kenora. Fun joint. We’ll be back here again on our way home. After that it was a long haul to Regina for our show at the Gaslight. This one was way better than our last and we look forward to playing here again next tour. The road then pointed us towards Saskatoon where we always play the amazing Bud’s on Broadway. Mid week shows can be tough but we’re grateful to have them at all and we always have fun at Bud’s with the staff and patrons. Big thanks to Al from the blues society for wrangling a few folks out on a Wednesday. Thursday we did a house concert in Stoon in our pal, John’s, basement. We met John in Jasper last tour and hit it off. Before we knew it wed booked a show with him for this tour! Nice little crowd and a whole lotta fun. I went all out for this and rented a big amp specially for the show!

We were real spoiled all week in Stoon as we stayed with my cousins family and Kris’ home cooking was it’s usual amazing! We arrived for Thanksgiving and didn’t seem to stop eating great food till the moment we left! Thanks to family! So awesome!

After we vacated Saskatchewan our first Alberta stop was the Mainliner in Medicine Hat. We discovered the Mainliner through our pal Geoff Lightenin’ a few tours back and it’s become a real awesome spot to hang for the weekend. Great owners and staff and a real appreciative audience. We always have a ball and can’t wait to see them again in the spring!

After the Hat we cruised to Cowtown to hang with our pals from Fredericton at the Vista Commune. We got deep into a great HBO show called Game of Thrones and enjoyed one helluva nice day on the Vista patio. It was so warm the hornets were waking up and hanging around. The boys have a great view of downtown Calgary and in the morning you can clearly see the mountains. Nice foreshadowing for this week. We caught a great sunset too!

Last night we rolled into Lethbridge to stay with our pals who we know from Fredericton. These cats are always a blast and treat us with the hospitality that the Maritimes are known for. We had a wonderful night of telling tales and enjoying great alberta beef with some tasty wine!

Tonight we rawk the Slice and then move on to Canmore tomorrow. This part of our Alberta trip wraps up next Monday before we roll into BC. Looking forward to all the adventure and fingers crossed for more excellent weather.

Yours in RAWK,

Ross

PS….I posted a few new tour dates for our trip home. Check em out and tell a friend!

At The Helm

Hello minions!

Well as I type I’m over looking the lovely Davidson Lake. I’ve been out here on a mini “vacation”. It sure makes doing agent work easier and almost bearable. I’ve been coming here my whole life and it never wears off for me. recently I came out to do a painting I was asked to submit for the Brush of Hope Kideny Foundation fundraiser. They ask non artist to paint something for auction. I hadn’t painted in about 25 years. I used to paint with my mom, who is an artist. Needless to say I got some much needed coaching form moms. It was an honour to be asked and fun to do it! They’ll auction all the pieces off on ebay near the end of October I believe. Here’s the piece. I called it “No, No, No”.

So let’s see….What’s goin’ on?

Last week we had a killer run of festivals in Quebec and NB. We did the opening show at The Donnacona Blues Festival where we had nothing short of an awesome time. Played to a real great crowd and then had some more fun afterward at The Totem bar where an acoustic mysteriously appeared and I was convinced (jack daniels) to do a short solo set. Much fun was had. The next day we drove to Levis, Quebec where we played to a very appreciative crowd of what seemed like a thousand peeps! Awesome fun! Then on Saturday we hit the Dooryard Arts Fest in Woodstock NB to rock my old stomping grounds of Carleton County. What a great time it was and it’s nice to see the festival there really being supported by the community. We had a fun Jam with Newfoundlands Chris Kirby too! I handed him the guitar I usually keep in open “D” tuning and although I had thought I tuned it all up, one string was a full tone down. I tell ya, you’d never know. Kirby rocked anyhow. No flies on the boy!
Here’s a pic from Donnacona:

And here’s a video from the same night. I think this one is our version of BB’s “Thrill is Gone”

This weekend we head up to Perth Andover for the Larlee Creek Hullabaloo. One only need check the line up to know what kind of awesome Festival is up the Saint John River. Matt Andersen, Dave Gunning, Thom Swift, Carmen Townsend, Chris Colepaugh and MORE!!!! Gonna be a gooder. Bound to be some jams too! Saturday well wake up too early and no doubt be fuzzy headed for our drive to Charlottetown. We’ll be playing Hunter’s Ale House for the first time and really, really look forward to it. I know there will be some friends in town for the Charlottetown Jazz and Blues Fest so we’re hoping for some of them to pop in.

Recently I’ve been in conversation with the fellows from a new Fredericton based company called Timbre Collective. These cats build custom pedal boards, flight cases and more. After some emailing and discussion I’m very happy to say that I will be entering a sponsorship with the lads to endorse their cool products. My new board is being constructed as we speak and I hope to have it in time for Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. These cats have their research down and are great about giving you whatever you think your board needs. I look forward to working with them. Here’s one of their prototypes

Did someone say Harvest Fest??? Well here’s two amazing bits of info for you to look forward to…ONE: we are currently reviewing the mixes for our new live album “What You Need Vol 2”. You may remember Vol 1 was recorded at Harvest during our Dolan’s run a few years ago and it’s on the site here for free download now. We recorded VOL 2 at Blues on Whyte on this past spring tour. It’s part of our fan series which means if you want this baby you gotta get to a show to buy it. It’s sounding good and features a lot of the rocking stuff from Redemption. We hope to have it for sale during Harvest and we hope you dig it!

TWO: Unless you live in a cave you may have heard that Gregg Allman had to cancel his Harvest shows due to respiratory infection. Obviously, being a huge fan, I was devastated by this news as I was scheduled to open the second show. Well The Festival Musical Director, no stranger to last minute cancellations after last years, did it again. In no easy task of replacing the rocknroll hall of famer, he upped the ante huge. He got TWO rocknroll hall of famers. Mr. Buddy Guy, who I had the pleasure of sharing the bill with a few years back and Mr. Levon Helm, back beat and vocalist for legendary group THE BAND. What a roller coaster for me. Heart broken right back to elated. I can’t explain how stoked am to open for Levon and The Family Band. The Band has been an amazing influence on me in my life and I can’t even believe I’m on this bill. Again, HUGE thanks to Harvest. So excited.

In between this weekends shows an Harvest we’ll pile into Ruby for what could very well be her last tour (if I can devise a plan to get a new van). We head out to Ontario on the 25th of this month with a quick stop at Pub St. Alexandre in Quebec City on the 25th before we dive into Ontario for a week. Check the tour page and find out where we’ll be next. We hope to see you Ontario folks out at the show!

FREDERICTON PEEPS: If you can’t wait till harvest we’re doing a free outdoor concert on my birthday, Aug 23rd, at Officers Square. Show time is 7pm. When we get home form Ontario we’ll play the KV Valley Jazz fest and then drive right up to Florenceville to rawk the Dooly’s there. Haven’t been up that way for quite sometime so it should be a bash!

So there it is peeps. Our schedule for the next little bit. You folks out west can look forward (or escape) a return trip in October and November too!

On a side note I’m listening to some Taj Mahal right now. Y’all know he’ll be at Harvest Fest too right? Oh it’s gonna be a gooder!

Stay good,

Ross

It’s a Wonderful Life.

On the particular day in question, we awoke in Jasper. After a yummy breakfast we stopped at Coco’s for a cup a joe and to drop off a CD before we split town. While there I met a fella who was at our show the previous night. He bought a couple CD’s and gave me his contact info as he does house concerts in Saskatoon from time to time. Would we like to do one? Certainly would!

Mid travel to Kamloops we find a yummy German bakery and stop for espresso and soup n sammies! Great find.

We travel on and arrive in The Loops. We hit Long n McQuade to grab a small P.A. for the nights use. We score a $20 rental! awesome! I check the old interweb for a hotel. We book a Travel Lodge over the phone. Score a $70 room. Sweet. We find the hotel with some effort (the name of the hotel had changed) and I check us in. I meet this really cool guy from behind the counter. A biker sort of fellow. We hit it off right away. He gives me a hand written note that says $50 rooms for our next visit there in the fall. I think that’s pretty sweet. As a sign that I’ve appreciated his efforts to be unusually nice to us we give him a discography and a stack of stickers. He returns THAT gesture by giving us 3 skull caps to rock and tags our van with a Kamloops Harley Davidson Club Sticker. Then as if this wasn’t enough he requests me to come see him in the office. So down I go to see whats up. When I enter he refers to me as “Rossy”. My late Grandmother and Roger Howse are really the only peeps I can recall addressing me as Rossy and I always have a chuckle when someone does. He explains that he knows after a long day of travel and a night of rocking, no one wants to share a bed with his buddy. So he hands me a key to my own room. For Free. My mind is blown by this point. What a guy.

We head to the club. We were lucky enough to discover the Westsyde Pump a few tours back when a local agent/promoter sorta guy, Ray Nyuli, booked us in there. The staff are some of the best around and certainly high on our favorites list. Real sweethearts. The first time we played there they all dressed up in shirts, ties and blues hats. Nice sign. THIS time they all had white tank tops on with our new logo on the front. AWESOME!

they also had fake tattoos on! Here’s a pic of Homer’s neck tattoo….(i hope it washed off for fathers day!)

What a killer bunch. We had a fun time as usual rocking the joint.

This was just one of those days where everything lined up right. We always shake our head with amazement when stuff like this happens. We recognize and appreciate when the world looks after us. As always, we say “Thank you Rock n Roll”.

This is our last “west” show. after tonight we’ll be slowly making our way east. Next week we’re rolling into another fav spot of ours…Blues on Whyte in Edmonton. We always have a blast here and we’ll be celebrating Canada Day weekend here as well so it should be off the hook. Oh yeah, did I mention we’ll be recording a new live album there? Well we are. Why not come be part of it?

I don’t want to get to far ahead of my self but right after the Edmonton week wraps we’ll be pulling our best RocknRoll move yet….We’ll hop a plane to Montreal to rawk the shit out of the Montreal Jazz Fest. We’re playing the Lotto Stage at 9pm and again at 11pm. To say we’re stoked for this would be an understatement. This is gong to be an “everything before and everything after” moment for us. Again, “Thanks Rock n Roll”!!!!