In the Strangest of Places
It’s hard to write this one without revealing some of my nerdier hobbies that most people wouldn’t want to publicize, but that’s the sacriﬁce you have to make in this line of work.
Last Monday night, I was at home watching a JRAD concert, and having the time of my life. My friends love to tease me about the frequency in which I livestream concerts that I’m not attending, but when you follow music like sports, it’s a necessity.
JRAD, short for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, is one of the coolest bands on the scene. They started out as a Grateful Dead tribute band, but quickly evolved into something uniquely their own. They still primarily play Grateful Dead songs (although they’re starting to work in some originals), but it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before. They play harder, faster, funkier, completely original takes on these classic songs. They turn obscure rarities into show stopping numbers, they come up with crazy set lists that we’d never dream of, and they erase any doubts that this music counts as rock and roll. They’ve developed a following that’s uniquely theirs, one that’s almost exclusively young people. They frequently jam with the living members of the Grateful Dead (John Mayer is a particularly big fan and plays with them all the time), and they’re doing as much as anyone to keep this music alive. They’re as much of a tribute band as Frasier is a tribute to Cheers.
At the end of the concert, which was a charity beneﬁt, the organizer of the event gave a speech that resonated with me. He talked about how everyone in the audience, either in person or streaming at home, should go out and “JRAD something.” Which is to say, treat something in their life the way JRAD treats these songs. Take something you already do regularly, and triple the intensity. Do it so much harder, faster, and more creatively. Put such a unique spin on something that everyone has to acknowledge you, even if they hate it. So lately, I’ve been trying to JRAD-ify my writing. To be more intense, more creative, harder and faster. Put more jokes on every page, squeeze more storylines in, and use every spare inch of white space as an opportunity to make people laugh. It’s not easy, but if I can make a product that’s as good as what the band puts out, it’ll be well worth it. It certainly worked for them.
Always Trying to Change Things Up