THE STORY: WHO IS JARRED GRANT?
From playing drums in the Central Oregon punk rock scene during his formative high school days in the late 90s, to his deep-dive into studying music performance/production/theory/songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston, to playing singer/songwriter nights with nothing but his voice, his acoustic guitar, and his honest lyrics on small stages, all through to today where he's carved out a niche as a one-of-a-kind singing standing drummer, follow along as I take you through the musical journey of professional musician Jarred Grant...
Enough of that 3rd person voice.
I originally hail from the beautiful, scenic Pacific Northwest in the good ol' US of A although I decided to relocate to the East Coast in 2004 to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a professional musician. I've pretty much always known I was going to be a musician in one form or another. I actually don't remember this story because I was too young but my dad tells me that when I was 2 he asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told him I wanted a either punching bag or a drum set. He didn't like the idea of me getting into boxing so he did what most parents wouldn't and got me a drum set. Some of my earliest memories are of playing that drum set... I remember vividly my dad playing the song Wipe Out by the Surfaris and him showing me how to play the iconic drum lick by banging away with the little kid sized drum sticks that came with the drum set on the living room floor. I then tried to mimic what he showed me and what I heard on that song on my new drum set. Those drums didn't last that long as most things don't for a 2-year-old boy. I don't remember exactly why, I think it was because I lost the drum sticks, but one day while alone in my bedroom with those little blue drums I took the metal cymbal holder off and tried to use it to play instead of the missing sticks. I ended up busting holes in all of the drum heads, my dad was upset and I was in trouble because those drums weren't cheap, and that little blue drum set ended up never to be seen again.
Drums weren't the only instrument I was fascinated with as a kid though. I'm pretty sure there are pictures hidden away in storage somewhere of me standing there with a belt fastened to a beat up old tennis racket my aunt gave to me that I would pretend was a guitar and would strum and sing songs on stage in my young mind. I vaguely recall having a sunburst finish acoustic kids guitar at some point too but I don't think it was mine and was probably my sister's or one of my cousin's that I got to play with occasionally.
Singing was always something I was drawn too as a young child too. The best part about singing is that you can do it whenever and wherever you want and you don't need an expensive instruments to make music... all you need is your voice.
In the early nineties after begging and begging, my dad relented and bought a karaoke machine as a "gift for the family" one Christmas. At home karaoke machines were a fairly new concept at the time and I think the machine came with only one or two karaoke cassette tapes, the kind with just the backing music and no vocals. Eddie Rabbit's "Love a Rainy Night" was on side A and that tune was my jam for the longest time. So much so that I'd sing along to it on repeat for hours at a time and eventually wore the tape out. The other karaoke tape it came with had some country songs on it and it being the 90s and all Brooks & Dunn's "Boot Scootin' Boogie" was a hit at the time and ended up being one of the other songs that I'd sing constantly.
At one point in the mid 90's my dad took me and my older sister to his hometown of Prineville, Oregon. Prineville is a little hicktown in Central Oregon with vast farm fields and nothing but big jacked up trucks on the roads. We often went there to visit family but this partihttps://youtu.be/tyCCkh_0m4ocular trip to Prineville was to go to the Crooked River Roundup, a weekend long rodeo and fair and most importantly they were holding a karaoke contest that year that my dad entered me in. I was probably 8 or 9 years old and it was my 1st taste of singing on stage in front of people. I sang Garth Brooks' hit song "Ain't Going Down 'til the Sun Comes Up" and took 2nd place for the under 18 age group. I think the consolation prize I won was a bracelet for free rides at the fair or something but more important to me was that it was my first time experiencing the rush, the nerves, the almost indescribable feeling of performing music on stage in front of strangers and hearing the applause at the end. I cherished that feeling the most and was hooked.
Over the next couple of years I entered the annual elementary school talent contest and was amazed that I had the ability to stand on stage, sing a song, and connect with a whole auditorium full of my peers, teachers, and parents through music. What a powerful thing it is.
At the same time, I would spend hours by myself in the garage setting up empty boxes like a drum kit and kicking and banging away on them with pvc piping from an old jungle gym structure we had in the yard. I'd borrow my mom's stereo, take it out to the garage and try to play along with whatever cassette tapes I could get my hands on. If you've ever seen a bucket drummer it was kind of like that only with cardboard boxes and big PVC pipes for sticks. I didn't think my mom could handle much more of that racket I was always making banging on boxes until she surprised me with a junior drum set for Christmas that I'd circled in the JC Penny catalog almost every year up until that point. I was thrilled to have my own drum set again.
It was during the awkward middle school years that I really got into drumming and it overtook my love of singing. I joined the school band in middle school and new right away that I was going to play drums. I was the 1st in line to audition for drums at the start of the school year and the only student that got to play a drum solo at the end-of-year concert. During the winter of '95 and after me persistently begging my mom to get a "real" drum set she finally broke down and got me 5 piece, full size drum set. It was a CB700 kit (I had no idea what that meant at the time) with a cool silver-splatter finish, and it was the only thing that mattered to me from then on. It was also around that time that I got my very 1st CD player. I think it was my sister that gifted me my very 1st CD, Alice In Chains self-titled album. I somehow convinced my mom to let me order some CD's from Columbia House, the company that would send you 5 CD's for a penny each plus shipping & handling as long as you ordered 1 more every month after that at full price for 10 months.. yeah right, like an 11-year old kid could afford to buy a CD let alone 10 of them. That 1st batch of CD's I ordered included Nirvana's "Nevermind", Smashing Pumpkins' "Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness" and The Cranberries' "Zombies" along with a couple of other CDs that I can't recall. Those grunge albums were in heavy rotation as I would spend hours every day playing my new drums along with heavy hitters Dave Grohl, Jimmy Chamberlain, Sean Kinney and the like.
As I got older and into high school I played my very 1st professional gig and it was playing drums with a highly-controversial, political punk rock band out of Bend, Oregon called Thought Police. I was recruited to join the band along with guitarist and good friend Andy Jacobs whom I 1st met when I was a freshman in high school. Andy was looking for a drummer to join his ska band, The Shadow Puppets, and after a brief audition we practiced a lot over the course of the next couple of months and played a handful of house parties in Central Oregon before eventually disbanding. Thought Police, however, quickly became established in the Central Oregon music scene as a band to see live because you never knew what we were going to do next and the stage shows were wild. I remember the 1st Thought Police show was at a rowdy, dive bar in downtown Bend called Bend's Best Bet. At the age of 14, I was barely allowed in the establishment short of a quick setup and soundcheck during the afternoon happy hour and then I was only allowed back in the doors when we were due to perform on stage. The rest of the band members were 21 or older and I think we made enough money to cover their bar tab that night. Both of my parents and some of my family came out to see the show that night and my mom, who I lived with at the time got an earful from them after that night for letting me play in a band making all that noise with a bunch of older guys. Mom didn't care for the feedback much although she did offer to let us move our practice space into the basement so she could keep a close eye on things... or so she thought.
Thought Police became a bit of a Central Oregon local legend over the next few years after earning a 1st place tie at a battle of the bands, playing some protest shows in liberal Eugene, Oregon, and doing whatever we could to piss off the local cops in town. We pushed the envelope as far as we could and had a lot of fun doing it.
It was with Thought Police that I got my 1st experience touring with a band in a rusty old van packed to the roof with music gear. I was also the drummer in the high school jazz choir my junior year and the choir was scheduled to fly across the country for an opportunity to perform at a national jazz festival at Carnegie Hall in the spring. Thought Police had a tour scheduled for the same exact week as the Carnegie Hall jazz festival so I went to the choir director and told him I wasn't going to NY since my punk rock band was going on tour. I got kicked out of the jazz choir for that decision. Oh well... the way I saw it, it was an opportunity lost but an even better opportunity gained. Though Police did a week and a half long west coast tour going from Portland, OR, through Boise, Idaho, all the way out to Phoenix, AZ and back to Bend by way of California. It was with Thought Police that I got my first chance to record in a music studio, releasing 3 studio albums and 1 live album during my high school years. It was a ton of fun, a lot of partying, and a great way to spend my rebellious high school years.
As I neared the end of my high school career I had every intention of pursuing a culinary degree at a community college in Coos Bay, Oregon as my 2nd passion in life is cooking. Music has always been my 1st passion for as long as I can remember. However, a guitar player friend of mine who eventually became one of my 1st roommates when I moved out of the 'rents house shortly after turning 18 told me about her incredible experience attending the summer program at Berklee College of Music. The whole idea that an entire college existed that is 100% totally dedicated to music just blew my mind and I quickly became obsessed with figuring out how to get into Berklee. My mom, my friend Andy and I took a trip out to Boston shortly after I turned 18 to visit Berklee. It was mid-May and the school didn't have much going at the time as it was in between the spring and summer semesters but I got a sense of what it would be like studying nothing but music every day. I decided that culinary arts would be my backup plan so I immediately put the pedal to the metal on enrolling at Berklee.
I was eventually granted a conditional acceptance into Berklee, on the condition that I up my music theory knowledge. After all, as primarily a drummer I didn't have much of a need to know scales, modes, or keys. Time signatures and tempos were enough for me so I took some courses at Central Oregon Community College the year after graduating from high school including Music Theory 101, Ear Training 101, and I played in the jazz band and orchestra. Interestingly enough, that fall semester the C.O.C.C orchestra went on tour of Central and Eastern Oregon. It was a bit strange playing as a college student in the same orchestra as my music teachers from middle school and high school. It was also an experience I'll never forget playing Dvorak's New World Symphony to a gymnasium full of the elderly and farmers. They were so incredibly grateful to have us in town and it really reinforced for me the feeling of connecting with people from all walks of life through the power of music, a universal language. After that year in community college I had enough music theory background to get into Berklee so I moved across the country in 2004 to spread my wings and fly so to speak. Upon moving to Boston I immediately fell in love with the area... well more my like immediately after getting completely and utterly culture-shocked. I was a teenager from a small town in the middle of Oregon, a place where everybody drives the speed limit all the time, everybody is way too nice and accommodating almost to a fault, and a place with a glaring lack of diversity and had just moved to Boston the capital of aggressive drivers, home of the permanent scowl, and a place where the phrase "go f*** yourself" is considered friendly banter. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into... but I still embraced it with everything I had.
While studying at Berklee, I helped form what turned into an original alt-rock trio called Fleshpetal and made an immediate strong connection with bassist/fellow drummer Jack Ko. Fleshpetal went on to record a 5-song EP and play a handful of gigs in the Boston area. Jack Ko and I were both total music nerds studying at Berklee and we formed a kinship over our shared love of drumming and also our shared love of classic rock music such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors. Speaking of The Doors I don't remember how it all started but eventually we formed a The Doors tribute band called Morrison Crossing and did our best to recreate what the live shows were like for the The Doors back in their heyday. Still to this day, the highlight of my musical career was getting the call for Morrison Crossing to perform as the backing band when Robby Krieger came to Boston. Robby Krieger was booked for a daytime discussion and performance at the Berklee Performance Center as part of a promotional tour for a newly released The Doors live album and I had the thrill of a lifetime to hang with him that day and play music with a true living legend. I can still recall vividly as we were settling into the groove on the 1st verse of LA Woman looking over at Robby playing the lead line and just feeling completely awestruck.
The vast majority of my Berklee days were filled with the trials and tribulations of trying to "make it" as a drummer in an original, indie rock called Fly Upright Kite. Fly Upright Kite was the brainchild of my former college roommate and still-to-this-day best friend Asad Rahman, who also grew up in like me in the PNW. Fly Upright Kite had some minor success in the New England area releasing a couple of EPs, 1 of which we pressed on vinyl fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine, and built a loyal fanbase in Boston. After playing all over the region over a 4-year period, most of the time for a little gas money or sometimes even for free, struggling to make ends meet I learned two of the most important lessons there are to learn about being in a band; 1) it's really f***in hard and takes a lot of work to keep a band together and 2) all good things must eventually come to an end.
In late 2007, the world-class guitarist I worked with in Morrison Crossing and all around awesome dude Cuni Besic invited me to sit-in for a couple of songs with a cover band he played with called Plaid Daddy at a tiny, hole-in-the-wall pub called the Green Dragon in downtown Boston. Little did I know then, but that night was when my musical career would take a bit of left turn. A month or two later I got a call to sub-in for a weekend of Plaid Daddy gigs. This was during the holidays and the normal crew of players in Plaid Daddy were out of town so myself and Jack Ko were the fill-in rhythm section that weekend. I had reached out to the bandleader a couple of weeks before the gig to get a set list to prepare but ended up arriving at the gig having virtually no idea what songs we'd end up playing. Little did I know at the time but Jim Dunlop, the bandleader for Plaid Daddy had a habit of never writing a set list as he preferred to feel out the vibe of the audience every night and call out songs on the fly. I had always prided myself on trusting my ears while jamming with others but it was with Plaid Daddy that I really honed my chops in this area. I can't think of single Plaid Daddy gig that we had a set list to work off of. Another month or two went by and I got a late night call from Jim where he confessed that although is current drummer could play laps around me he just wasn't the right fit for the band and Jim wanted to know if I'd be interested in taking over the drum throne in the band on a full time basis. Fly Upright Kite was nearing the end of the road and my calendar was mostly free so I jumped at the opportunity to work with Plaid Daddy. It was with this band that I first discovered that it is possible to actually make an income from playing music.. what a concept!?!
I spent the next 8 years playing drums with Plaid Daddy and gained valuable firsthand knowledge on so much of the music business. Everything from how to run a band like a business, to how to keep a successful band going by relying on a vast network of musicians who know other musicians to fill in as needed, to how to deal with challenging personalities in band, to how to setup sound and lights and provide emcee services for a couple's biggest day. Those 8 years were a fast and wild ride filled with playing music all over the map.. from tiny dive bars in Lynn, MA to destination weddings in Vail, CO, from private parties on picturesque oceanfront homes on the Cape, to packing massive nightclubs in the middle of nowhere Maine. Plaid Daddy had a reputation for putting on high-energy shows with top-notch musicians and I cherish those moments and incredible opportunities I got to work with some truly incredible musicians. The friendship and brotherhood that I cherish the most is the one I developed with Plaid Daddy bandleader Jimmy Dunlop.
It was after a private party with entertainment provided by Plaid Daddy that I met my wife, Shannon. She and I struck up a conversation about tattoos at a late-night after party in Brighton, MA and after talking for what felt like an eternity as time stood still around us, we decided we'd go on an adventure together. Shannon impressed me immediately not only with her gymnastics skills (she could walk on her hands y'all) but also her incredible, powerful voice. She was the lead singer and bass player for post-metal band Siblings out of Salem, MA and I instantly fell in love with her infectious laugh and overall joy for life. I put up a bit of a resistance at first so as to not mix business with pleasure, but after our relationship got serious and we moved in together I started recruiting her to sing with the Plaid Daddy band. Shannon would eventually join Plaid Daddy as the female vocalist at weddings and private event dates which ended up being the bulk of the music schedule for the 2 of us.
Halfway through the decade, Shannon and I got married and were looking to make another change in our lives. We were researching different parts of the country to relocate to and had narrowed our choices down to Key West, FL and Nashville, TN. Both of these music markets are incredibly challenging to break into... but ultimately we didn't make it to either place. It just so happened that one day at my 9-5 office job my boss told me he was looking for someone on the team to send on assignment to Ireland for an extended period. After discussing it with Shannon and carefully considering all of the European countries we would so easily be able to visit with just a short flight out of Dublin, we took the leap and moved across the Atlantic to Galway, Ireland on the west coast of the country.
Living in Galway was an amazing experience. I instantly fell in love with the friendly people, the delicious Guinness, and the welcoming atmosphere at the doorstep of Europe. We spent 2 years there, had our 1st child together, and traveled to 8 different countries with a newborn in tow.
To be continued...