November 22, 2013 08:48
Working outside in the winter can mean you are facing everything from wet, heavy snow to blowing winds and blizzards. A wide range of conditions and various levels of physical activity mean that your choice in clothing needs to be deliberate and flexible.
Protect Your Body:
In the winter, clothing is best worn in layers. Multiple layers provide a bigger bang for the safety buck than a single thick garment. Each layer has a specific purpose and addresses two clothing challenges that threaten the health & safety of outside workers; moisture buildup and wind.
1. BASE (layer which is closest to the skin)
• Should be able to wick, or move, moisture away from your skin.
• Clothing should be snug but not constricting.
• Use materials that don’t absorb moisture – no cotton. (Thermal underwear made from polyesters and polypropylene)
2. MIDDLE (insulation layer that goes over the base layer)
• Will trap warm air as your body is constantly giving off heat.
• Clothing should be relatively loose-fitting.
• Materials like wool or fleece.
3. OUTER (shell layer)
• Purpose of this layer is to protect the layers beneath from wind, rain and snow.
• Jackets should be easily closed off or opened at the waist, neck & wrists.
• Waterproof and windproof fabric work well.
Layering allows you to add and remove layers as your physical activity changes. When you’re working up a sweat, take layers off. When you stop, put the layers back on; bundle up, pull up your hood, put your back to the wind, and trap all that heat you’ve generated.
Protect Your Feet:
Your boots need to protect you from workplace hazards but they also need to keep your feet warm and dry. Make sure they are well insulated and will repel moisture. If in doubt, apply a moisture-repellant product to keep out the moisture. Put in winter insoles as the steel-toe and/ or steel shank of your boots may conduct heat away from your feet, so the extra layer helps stop that heat loss. Your boots also need to protect you from slips & falls; choose a sole with a chunky lug type tread. Ice grips are an arrangement of metal springs or treads that can be strapped onto your boots to provide extra traction.
Don’t forget your socks! The simple fact is you need good winter socks. Thick wool socks are cheap, easy to find and can keep you warm even if they get wet. Modern synthetics have improved wicking ability – the property of removing moisture from around your feet - but will be pricier.
Always wear clean socks. The oils & moisture from your feet can rob a few degrees of warmth from your feet. Clean socks keep your feet warmer.
Protect Your Hands:
Your fingers, toes, ears and nose don’t have major muscles to produce heat so they usually feel the cold first. Your Cold Weather Cut Resistant gloves are to protect you against workplace hazards but may not provide you with the necessary warmth when working outside. Wear a thin polyester, polypropylene or fleece glove inside your work gloves to help stop heat loss.
Remember bulky gloves can interfere with your grip. Be extra cautious to ensure you have a firm grip when climbing a ladder or using a tool. Your Cold Weather Cut Resistant gloves have a gripping material built into the fingers and palm.
Protect Your Head:
Last but not least is your head. Just like any other body part that we protect from the harsh winter elements we need to keep our head warm and dry. But at the same time we must ensure we are protected from workplace hazards and that means wearing our hard hats at all times.
Fabric winter liners designed to work in conjunction with our hard hats is the best option and only option approved by the CSA. Winter liners are designed to attach to the hard hat suspension and seat down onto the head. There are a variety of styles available that offer head protection as well as ear and neck protection from the elements.
If wearing a hoodie under your hard hat you must ensure that it is worn completely down on your head so that the material is not interfering with the suspension bands of your hard hat and that you have adjusted the tension so it is secure on your head. Be aware that a hood can block your peripheral vision and affect your hearing. Be particularly careful around moving equipment or vehicles. Also, the strings on hoodies are a potential hazard; they can easily be caught in moving or rotating equipment like a hand grinder.
Wearing a toque under your hard hat is not recommended by the manufacturers nor approved by the CSA because a hard hat needs to fit tightly on your head for maximum protection. With a toque underneath, your hard hat could slip off more easily. If you are wearing a toque you need to ensure you are adjusting the suspension to ensure it is snug and secure.
Taking a few extra minutes to prepare can ensure you stay warm and dry this winter.
Health and Wellness Promotion
City of Saskatoon
November 20, 2013 10:07
Mankind developed slowly, and then all at once. Anatomically modern humans first appeared some 200,000 years ago  ... yet the world’s first known civilization of Sumer didn’t begin until 5000 to 6000 years ago. 
Those experienced in humans may not be shocked the brutes didn’t play to potential way back when. It’s possible to see lessened glory in a species prone to such epic stagnation, but division-of-labor and retention of knowledge are surely advanced concepts that took eons to learn. (They are not so perfectly practiced even today!)
Horsemanship began with Civilization ... or vice versa
Whatever the reason for the delay of civilization, a great change took place at the time of its birth: the advent of horsemanship. The quirky, panicky and potentially dangerous animal somehow became more than prey in the eyes of early civilized man. Much empathy is exercised in handling horses—since the skill is also required to sustain civilization, perhaps this is why they began together. Empathy is a civilized art.
Horsemanship is more than a foundational skill: in all times it has flourished or decayed according to the state of society. In all times, also, horses have returned investment in their care and potential. People and horses are partners in the joint venture project of civilization and we rise and fall together.
Still Alive and Growing
The value of horses in our motorized society is often underestimated, but the horse has always been more than horsepower. Since first painted on prehistoric cave walls the animal has inspired our better journeys, a gift that can never become obsolete.
Today horsemanship is alive and expanding, and continues to advance. An important NEW value of horses is to keep alive a founding force in civilization. As a seminal art that continues to mirror society, horsemanship is a valuable legacy to preserve for future generations. This can be done! Horses are not necessities in daily life today—but horsemanship has taken many engaging new forms in recreation, sport and therapy.
Amazingly, horsemanship thrives even in our modern technological age. As long as we have horses, we are keeping one of the founding fires of civilization lit.
(c) John Royce
October 30, 2013 14:22
Teresa Binetruy started riding as a child and has been riding, taking instruction and showing in all of the three equestrian disciplines ever since.
Teresa’s riding experience began in the sport of Three Day Eventing, giving opportunity to compete at major competitions across Western Canada over the years. Arguably, the highlight of her three-day experiences was riding Ludi Mae. Ludi Mae was a thoroughbred mare that the Binetruy family purchased locally that went on to be a member of Team Canada at the 1990 World Equestrian Games in Sweden. When Ludi Mae was retired from international competition in 1992, she became Teresa’s riding horse; allowing Teresa to take advantage of the vast ‘world of experience’ this horse had to offer, literally.
Being a three day event rider puts a person in the unique position of having to develop skills in all three arenas. To that end, Teresa and her horses have always attended regular dressage lessons, clinics and shows; and continued to develop skills with regular hunter/jumper lessons, clinics and shows. It has been a few years since Teresa has competed at a three day event, but she is commonly showing in the dressage ring and the hunter/jumper ring in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Most recently, Teresa has taken the opportunity to concentrate on her dressage work. Among many great clinicians, Teresa has been traveling regularly to Calgary to take lessons from Crystal Kroetch – a member of Canada’s 2011 Silver Medal Team at the Pan American Games.
Teresa lives west of Saskatoon on a farm where she previously raised beef cattle and currently runs a warmblood breeding operation. There is an exciting line up of young horses coming up through the ranks. Teresa feels extremely fortunate to be mounted on 2 lovely home raised horses for this edition of the Ellen Bontje Workshop. Outside of the riding arena, Teresa has a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and is the manager of the Beef Cattle Research & Teaching Unit at the University of Saskatchewan. She also plays competitive women’s hockey, traveling around Canada and the United States to hockey tournaments during the winter season.
Frolic is a 2004 Canadian Warmblood gelding sired by Frobisher (Florestan I x Diamantino) out of Brisa (Bajazzo x Arkansas). Frolic was born on Teresa’s farm and has been under her care and guidance ever since. He has shown in the hunter ring to 3’3” and in the jumper ring to 3’6”. While Frolic still competes in all disciplines the focus has turned to more serious dressage work. Frolic is a great big, strong horse with rhythmical lofty gates, a sweet temperament and a great attitude. In 2013, Frolic and Teresa were awarded the Saskatchewan Provincial Third Level Championship and the Alberta Provincial Reserve Championship.
Farenheit is a 2008 Canadian Warmblood gelding sired by Freestyle (Florestan 1 x Parademarsch) out of Blythe Spirit (Bajazzo x Arkansas). Frolic is sponsored by Norm Kohle Farrier Service of Grandora, Sk.
Farenheit was also bred, born and raised on Teresa’s farm. 2013 was Farenheit’s first show season where he got his start in the hunter ring and the dressage ring showing at Training level. He attended 2 shows in Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Dressage Provincials, and the Alberta Dressage Provincials obtaining very good scores consistently winning show championships and reserve championships for his level. Farenheit is a tall, elegant young man that grabs the attention of judges and spectators everywhere he goes. Farenheit is sponsored by Brookscon Construction of Cochrane, Ab.
For details http://horseownertoday.com/ellenbontjeworkshop.aspx
October 30, 2013 14:14
Horses have always been a passion for me, starting with the spring horse my brother had when I was 2. I started riding lessons with the Regina Pony Club when I was a little older. After leasing horses and riding lessons I was able to get my own horse and I competed with him in dressage in Saskatchewan. Once I went to university I had to opportunity to travel to Germany to train and earn their rider performance medals. I earned my silver performance medal and also earned my Trainer B certification in dressage and jumping. That is the equivalent of the new Coach 2 Competition Specialist designation through Equine Canada. In the past several years, I have continued to train and compete in Germany and Canada in Dressage with much success with my horse Paso Doble 40 and my other horses as well as with some horses owned by other riders. I even had the opportunity to present a horse for a client in the Trakehner Mare Performance Test in Hessen, Germany. I competed this year with Paso at 4th Level and have seen great improvement in him throughout the season with much success. He is a spirited horse who is very smart but easily stressed when he doesn’t understand something. He loves attention and bananas. We have high hopes and big dreams to one day make the Canadian Team and it is through clinics like this one that we can get the help we need to continue on the path to success.
For details http://horseownertoday.com/ellenbontjeworkshop.aspx
October 30, 2013 13:53
I used to be a dancer! At the age of eight all the makeup, hair, and costumes led my Mom to the statement “why don’t you quit this dance and take up horseback riding”. Who can turn down an opportunity like that……… off to summer riding camp my brother Brodie and I went!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One whole week of learning about tack, horse anatomy, what to feed them, how to care for them, and the smell of them – I was hooked!
My first horse was a rental pony from Madison Wilkening. A pinto pony with an attitude named “Bandit”. He was boarded at High Country Quarters in Drayton Valley where I took my initial riding instruction with Sabrina Bablitz. Bandit and I were together for two years doing flatwork and jumping. His quirky little attitude always made going to the barn interesting. In May 2007, my parents bought me Cracker Jack from Henri and Laurie DeGroot. He was a 7 year old 16.2 HH Hanoverian Thoroughbred and it was love at first sight. He had incredible ground manners but only 10 rides on his back (not the best parental decision!) So began the adventure of Cracker and Kallecia.
My first riding instructor took an immediate disliking to Cracker and his hissy fits – not the horses fault I now realize. Ute Miller from Bashaw then started coming to the barn every three-four weeks or when her Paramedic career allowed her to give lessons. We were riding casually just for fun, but as I progressed and Cracker progressed I became more interested in Dressage so we started with the basics. Cracker and I did not progress a lot during the first while together, but we had a great bond.
During the summer of 2010 I decided I was going to become an Eventer and went to a riding camp with Sandra Donelly in Canmore, AB. We had a great week of arena jumping, dressage work and cross country jumping. Three weeks later we went to Amberlea Meadows in Red Deer for our first event. We had a blast. Cracker and I both loved the cross-country run, our stadium jumping needed some work but we excelled in the Dressage with a score of 81. I was always intrigued by all the different movements of Dressage since I watched the Olympics and like every little girl I dream of someday being there!
The summer of 2011 my family moved from Drayton Valley to Olds Alberta and we were introduced to Jack and Linda Johnson at Peaceful Valley Stables. Linda was helping me with my riding and suggested that I might be interested in trying some lessons with Gordon Dalshaug. The spring of 2012, training was going great and I was entertaining entering some dressage shows when all those thoughts came to a screeching halt – Cracker coliced!
Dr. Mike Scott from Moore & Company Vet Clinic in Balzac Alberta put his survival chances at about 20% but donned his lucky operating cap and thank goodness for small miracles. Three weeks of nothing but school and sitting in the stall at the vet clinic and Cracker was moved back to Peace Valley Stables where he was treated like a Prince and the spring/ summer of 2012 to recover. We started back with some slow trail rides and have gradually worked our way back to good conditioning. Our skills have grown immensely working with Gordon. Together, we have been able to get Cracker to a place where I was once told would be impossible. Our goal is to make the 2014 Canadian Dressage Team and compete at the 2014 North American Junior/Young Rider Championships.
Cracker is my best friend and we trust each other which I believe makes a good team. When we’re together I’m “On Cloud Nine”!
September 28, 2013 08:56
Watching Horses is part of being Human
To say mankind evolved watching horses is simply reporting evidence. Incredibly the sight of horses is older to humanity than the use of fire or tools. Horse-watching predates walking upright.
According to science, the horse developed into its current form much earlier than humans did. The oldest known evidence of equus—the genus of all existing equines—comes from Idaho, USA, and is dated to about 3.5 million years old.
Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HyracotheriumVasacciensisLikeHorse.JPG
In comparison, humans are new kids on the block. Recognizable equus herds were present as early human-prototypes evolved ... human ancestors like australopithecus, who lived about 4 to 2 million years ago, were still losing their body hair and learning to walk upright at a time when fully-formed horses were already galloping across the plains.
Evidence reveals that the sight/sound/smell of horses is instilled in the most primal part of us, yet what this means to the realm of consciousness is less clear. We do know the earliest discovered prehistoric artwork concerns horses. Paleolithic caves are filled with equine figures and carvings that give testament to the awareness and importance of the animal to primitive man.
Science has only recently verified what horsemen have long claimed: horses are integral to human experience. However science does not answer what this means to present-day humanity. Charts cannot plot the horse’s deep link to our psyche. Does it ground us, does it balance us psychically to watch horses in action? The answer may be outside our empirical senses; it may be found quite simply in our hearts.
If today’s horse-lovers claim horses are important to the human spirit, it may be unwise to scoff. We should remember there are things poets knew ... before scientists proved it.
(c) John Royce
March 1, 2013 16:31
Photo credit: Andrea Lawrence
Follow me on Twitter @FridaysMyDay
I ride. That seems like such a simple statement. However, as many women who ride know, it is really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment. Being able to do things you might have once considered out of reach or ability. I have considered this as I shovel manure, fill water barrels in the cold rain, wait for the vet/farrier/electrician/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer by the side of the freeway, or cool a gelding out before getting down to the business of drinking a cold beer after a long ride.
The time, the money, the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least I call it dedication. Both my ex-husbands call it 'the sickness'. It's a sickness I've had since I was a small girl bouncing my model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse. Most of the women I ride with understand the meaning of 'the sickness'. It's not a sport. It's not a hobby. It's what we do and, in some ways, who we are as women and human beings.
I ride. I hook up my trailer and load my gelding. I haul to some trailhead somewhere, unload, saddle, whistle up my dog, and I ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile rides my sunscreen smeared face. I pull my ball cap down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the dust.
Time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My gelding flicks his ears and moves down the trail. I can smell his sweat and it is perfume to my senses. Time slows. The rhythm of the walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth.
I consider the simple statement; I ride. I think of all I do because I ride. Climb granite slabs, wade into a freezing lake, race a friend through the Manzanita all the while laughing and feeling my heart in my chest. Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment. Still I ride. No matter how tired or how much my seat bones or any of the numerous horse related injuries hurt. I ride. And I feel better for doing so.
The beauty I've seen because I ride amazes me. I've ridden out to find lakes that remain for the most part, unseen. Caves, dark and cold beside rivers full and rolling are the scenes I see in my dreams. The Granite Stairway at Echo Summit, bald eagles on the wing and bobcats on the prowl add to the empowerment and joy in my heart.
I think of the people, mostly women, I've met. I consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie amongst the bunch. We haul 40ft rigs. We back into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp. Tend the horses. We cook and keep safe. We understand and love our companions, the horse. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, wait, and doctor. Your hands are a little rough and you travel without makeup or hair gel. You do without to afford the 'sickness' and probably, when you were a small girl, you bounced a model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one. Now you are there. I ride.
--Author Unknown (although, many of us feel she is our sister)
March 1, 2013 13:02
The Serenity Prayer
posted by Horse Owner Today | May 25, 2011 10:51
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
- See more at: http://www.horseownertoday.com/blog/folklore/post/2011/05/25/The-Serenity-Prayer.aspx#sthash.ilIHZVF5.dpuf
February 26, 2013 14:55
Photo Credit by Andrea Lawrence
Follow me on Twitter @FridaysMyDay
The value of a sister/brother
Who doesn't have one.
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.
The value of one year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam.
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.
The value of one month:
Ask a mother
Who has given birth to a premature baby.
The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.
The value of one-second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident.
Time waits for no one.
Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when
You can share it with someone special.
To realize the value of a friend or family member:
January 11, 2013 12:12
J.J. was raised on a farm in rural Saskatchewan and has toured to promote his albums "Hillbilly Storybook" and "Show 'em Who's Voss" which was produced in Nashville. J.J. has had the pleasure of warming up for Johnny Reid, The RoadHammers and had a showcase spot opening for Raul Malo (The Mavericks). J.J.'s debut single "It's a Pride Thing" has received radio play across Canada, and his video is being shown across Canada and the United States. J.J. is considered a blend of Country, Americana, and Folk Rock. This young singer is gaining popularity and will surely be very successful soon! If you have a function coming up this summer and need a great performer, you better book him now!
You can find him on Facebook at:
Andrea: When I first met you, you were doing the sound for other bands at the Pump Roadhouse in Regina, Saskatchewan. At what point did you say to yourself, 'hey, I can do this' or when did you pick up a guitar and decide you wanted to go into the music industry?
J.J.: Well, the time that I worked at the Pump was probably three or four chapters along the road in my music career. I started playing in bands when I was 15 years old playing the ‘bar circuit' when there was such a thing. We toured Western Canada when there were six night gigs. I was the lead guitar player for a bunch of different bands over the years. As that scene started to die out, and dwindled from six nights to five nights then down to just weekends, I realized it was drying up and wasn't feasible any more. I was also getting older too, but it was a good experience for me in my 20s and it was a good way of learning my chops, develop my ear and learn about the industry, and it was a lot of fun.
Andrea: So it was good for you to understand what you were getting into after with your own band?
J.J.: Oh yes, as that would down and it was not feasible any more, it was either get a real job, or figure out some way to stay involved in the entertainment field and the music industry. That was when I started to develop as a mix engineer.
Andrea: Did you enjoy that time, did you have fun doing that?
J.J.: I really do enjoy working as a mix engineer. If there is a great band on stage, I have as much fun behind the sound board as I would if I was on stage.
Andrea: Did you meet a lot of good people through that time?
J.J.: I made a lot of connections through the years, working at the club, because they brought in a lot of touring acts. The club was committed to doing live entertainment, and they did all types of different genres from punk rock, country, blue grass to metal and everything in between. It was a great way to connect with people and I met people in the industry from all over the place with different backgrounds.
Andrea: So did that help you along in choosing your new career in which you put out an album of your own in 2008 called "Hillbilly Storybook"? Can you tell me a bit about that?
J.J.: That album was almost like going to university for me, what I was learning as a sound engineer I started to apply as a recording engineer. I started to get involved in digital recording. I took the knowledge that I had learned in one field and applied it to the next. I basically kept evolving and morphing and leapfrogging into different areas. For me I was side guy in cover bands for years and years, and then I got involved behind the scenes as a production guy. In the back of my mind as a little kid I always wanted to be as singer songwriter, and a solo recording artist, but for one reason or another I never jumped out and pursued it. In my late twenties, I got to the point where I had the experience in these different things and then it was natural. I thought, now I'm ready I can do this on my own. I didn't have a big bankroll to work with and everything I've done this far I've had to finance on my own. It was a logical step.
Andrea: Out of the songs are on "Hillbilly Storybook", can you tell me what was your number one on that album?
J.J.: I wrote three of the six songs on that project. Again that was me just learning how to do it and I was a very novice songwriter. The first song I ever started and finished I put on that album. From being a kid I always dabbled and wrote stuff down but I never really finished, and didn't know how to. I didn't have the discipline or the resolve to do it. Finally I had reached a point where I said I have to do this. I sat down and the first song I started and finished was called "Holy Man". I got inspired and started to write the song after all hell started to break loose in the Middle East after the attack happened on the World Trade Centre. I knew nothing about foreign politics and nothing about the Middle East. It was so relevant at the time and interesting but I had no idea what was really going on. I bought a book called "Holy War Incorporated" because I want to learn about it. It was dry, tough reading, but after I read this book, it really started to make sense, and inspired me to write the song.
Andrea: So you come from a small farm in rural Saskatchewan, can you tell me about that?
J.J.: Yes, it is about an hour north of Regina.
Andrea: Is that where your family still is and your roots are there?
J.J.: Oh Yes! *smiling
Andrea: So you are familiar with farming and ranching?
J.J.: We still own and operate a little farm.
Andrea: Do you have a horse?
J.J.: Oh yes, we have three horses. The one horse, my dad and I bought together when I was about 13. Her name is Blaze and she's a feisty Arab!
Andrea: So you have to ride her more often then, is what you are saying?
J.J.: Oh yeah, I’d love to! When I was in my teens, I rode a lot! but my biggest obstacle was my allergies and they seemed to have gotten worse as I got older. Now I really have a hard time being able to be around the horses.
Andrea: Oh No! I bet you were glad when they cut out smoking in all the bars.
J.J.: Oh Huge difference, yes! It's too bad because I love animals and I love horses. My allergies vary with different types of animals, but especially with horse sweat. In the summer, it is not even possible for me to ride. In the winter time I can go riding, but I have to be careful not to rub my eyes or touch my face or anything. But I still have the love and still have the horses out there. It's all good.
Andrea: That's too bad it is not wholesome and healthy for you to be out there for the most part!
J.J.: Well Dad still has a team that he hooks up every year.
Andrea: Does he do sleigh rides and stuff like that?
J.J.: Oh yeah, every year at Christmas time.
Andrea: In your Bio it says that your heroes include Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Steve Earle. Can you pick one, and tell me what inspired you about that person or why they are your hero?
J.J.: Steve Earle! He has to be the cornerstone just for the fact that, at the time when I was most impressionable growing up, his music was hitting me and it spoke to me right at that time. I became an avid fan and I followed him since I was 11 years old. I have every recording he's ever done, and well, I know too much about the guy.
Andrea: Now what do you consider your music to be is it country or pop or a mix?
J.J.: I try not to get too caught up in titles or branding it, but if you are trying to make a career or a living out of it, you do have to think about the business aspect of it. The reality of it is in Canada we have country music radio or modern rock or else classic rock. I am somewhere between southern guitar rock, and 90s country that was produced by Steve Earle, The Mavericks or Dwight Yoakam. That whole era between the mid 80s and early 90s is what really influenced the way I sound today. That's the music that I dig.
Andrea: So who do you write for when you write? Do you write for yourself or do you write for other people?
J.J.: Well right now I'm writing for myself. because I want to write songs about things that I want to say as an artist and things that effect me.
Andrea: So, true stuff?
Andrea: What artist do you think you resemble most and why?
J.J.: Oh, Paul Thorn! When I found his music, it basically stoked the fire in me like it did when I discovered Steve Earle’s music. Paul is incredibly intelligent and the deals with very deep topics and sensitive issues, but he does it with a tongue in cheek humour, but it's not stupid humour it's very intelligent. He looks at situations from a unique angle; (most often from the underdog’s point of view) our culture tends to see everything in black and white.... Good vs. Bad. Paul’s writing highlights that there is good and bad in everyone.... We’re all human.
Andrea: Can you tell me about the song “Whiskey, the Tree and Me"?
J.J.: That one is a very personal tune in regards to my family. Around ’95 (I believe it was) my cousin, Nathan, was playing broomball during a phys Ed Class at school. He lost his feet from under him, hit his head on the ice and was knocked out briefly. They got him up, he walked it off and he seemed okay. He went back to school with a headache, A little while later he passed out in class. They rushed him to the hospital, but he had an aneurism and within 24 hours they had told the family that he was brain dead. The family made the tough choice to take him off of life support a few days later, the accident happened on December the 18th, and we buried him on December the 23rd. The twist to this already tragic story, is that he was born Christmas Day, and yet we had to bury him so close to his birthday, it really hit me on the way home. He was my first cousin. I mean, we weren't close like brothers or something, but it really left an impression on me. I thought, “Man, what is it going to be like every year, come Christmas time,” (and really, for the whole month of December) to think of him, with every Christmas cheer. It has to be hard to be his parents, and re-live that over and over, every year. I came up with that song title that day. It was about four years ago, on Christmas Eve, that I finished the song.
Andrea: Did it take you that long to find the right words?
J.J.: No, I guess maybe I am just a terrible procrastinator, and I just said I have to finish this already and I finally finished the thought.
Andrea: I know you are passionate about it, because I could tell when you performed it. I knew by the way you sang it that it was a personal song. That is why I had to ask you about it. I am glad that you are deep enough that you can write about stuff that is personal to you.
J.J.: Well that goes back to my heroes, the people who I look up to as song writers. They are not afraid to write about Tough, personal topics, I think it helps with healing.
Andrea: Now, another song I really like is "Joanie The Jehovah's Witness Stripper". Can you elaborate on how you ended up with this song? *Laughing
J.J.: Well I can't take credit for that song! That’s a Paul Thorn Song, who I mentioned earlier. He wrote that one, I heard Chris Cummings play the song during one of his shows at the club that I was working at. I FELL in love with the song, and just had to record it. What makes it authentic for me, I suppose is, that on my dad's side of the family, there were 9 kids and there was a split in the family back in the 70s. The family was Catholic. My grandma and my three aunts became Jehovah's. I was born in ’75 and had never met them until I was in my teens, and when I did, they were handing out pamphlets! The whole religious thing was a sensitive subject to my family. It was a real issue growing up. I didn't know half of my family, and my uncle didn't even go to his own mother's funeral because of this, the song isn't taking a poke just at Jehovah Witness', I have a hard time with organized religions in general, Now don’t get me wrong, I respect everyone’s personal belief systems... and spirituality and I, myself, have my own beliefs, and I consider myself spiritual too. I just have a hard time with the “business” of religion. To wrap this up in a nutshell, when I heard "Joanie The Jehovah's Witness Stripper", I knew it was so me, I had to put it on the album.
Andrea: Well, I absolutely love the song and I think it’s priceless. I go on to your websites and Reverb Nation and listen to it again. I had to ask about the song because I often hear people say "WHAT?" when I talk about the song. I am sure you get a lot of that!
J.J.: Well in fairness to the JW’s, in the song "Holy Man" I’m pretty critical of main stream Christianity as well. Some might think it is an anti-war song, and to some degree I am anti-war I suppose, but the song more about using people’s faith systems to manipulate them into War. I believe if a country is going to go to war, there had better be damn good, unavoidable reasons to do so. With our leaders painting Muslim’s as terrorists and Christians as the good guys this does nothing but perpetuate hate..... When the whole concept of Religion and “God” is supposed to be about Love. If Nations were to send 30-50 year old people to fight wars, I don’t believe they’d happen very often. Instead we send 18 or 25 year old kids, who are hell bent to be somebody..... Easy to point and shoot.
Andrea: Now, if you were interviewing yourself, what kind of question would you ask yourself, and how would you answer it? What would you like to get OUT THERE?
J.J.: Ha ha- that is a tough one, because I talk a lot! It usually a matter of getting me to shut up and put things concisely, so that is a real tough one to answer! I suppose I should have to ask myself what do I hope to accomplish or what are my goals? Or why I am a solo artist or why am I as passionate about song writing as I am. I think it is because of the artists that I look up to. Artists like Johnny Cash changed the world and spoke to people and dealt with very touchy subjects. I think Steve Earle followed in his footsteps. Those two were the most prevalent in my world.
Andrea: If you had to pick an artist and ask him questions, who would it be?
J.J.: Oh, it would have to be Paul Thorn. I met him briefly in October, and I had a couple of good conversations with him, but he is such a complex guy and his past is very interesting. His father was a Pentecostal Minister. Paul touches on spirituality throughout his work, and he takes pokes at hypocrisy surrounding organized churches. Still, he has very strong beliefs. I would like to ask him if he recommends that I stay clear of the church that he came from! He is so clever in the way that he crafts his songs, you don't really know for sure, but he gets you thinking! Paul is dealing with topics that are pertinent to me right now.
Andrea: Can you tell me about your time in Nashville?
J.J.: Nashville is a wonderful place and very beneficial in helping me develop my song writing skills and get further ahead. It's an inspiring town, and every time I have gone, I come back with a really good song. I will sit at home and come up with nothing, but there’s something in the air that is just inspiring in Nashville. I have had the privilege of writing with some very good writers. I am learning a lot about getting started, and finishing. One great analogy I had heard, is “get the frame work done” we are not putting in carpet or hanging curtains, we are just framing the house. It's a matter of getting the blue print of the song, getting the arrangement worked out, and tweaking it afterwards and finishing it.
Andrea: Was it a good experience for you being in Nashville then?
J.J.: Yes, the town is very welcoming, and the people there want to help you, they make you feel so welcome because they want you coming back. A songwriter will wake up in the morning make his coffee and his jobs is to and write a new song. You can run out of ideas just like I have at home, but when you have somebody coming in from elsewhere bringing new and fresh ideas, it’s what helps keep that town moving. Everyone wants to see you get further, because it is a networking town. You know someone who knows someone and everybody winds up climbing higher on the ladder.
Andrea: Did you get to meet anyone famous while you were there?
J.J.: Oh, yes, lots of people, like Jacob Dillon from the Wallflowers, Robert Plant, Rodney Crowell, Raul Malo, Jack White, Lucinda Williams, Paul Thorn, Steve Earle
Andrea: Wow- you met Steve Earle, that's like a dream come true!
J.J.: Oh I have got to meet him a few times now. This time was a different setting. He was at a night club (and he hates night clubs), he did not want to be there! I felt a little sheepish about approaching him “like a Fan” but I just had to. I stopped him and bugged him for a picture. You could tell he wanted to get the heck out of there, but he took a picture with me and away he went.
Andrea: Do you have anything you want to add or perhaps give yourself a promotional plug here?
J.J.: Sure, look me up on line, I am pretty involved in the social media world, I am on Facebook www.facebook.com/jjvoss and Twitter.www.twitter.com@jjvoss Go to my website www.jjvoss.com and check out my music if you like what I Do then you can check it out on iTunes or order it off my website, and I will send you an autographed copy! Thanks for the interview- it's been great!