“’You won’t make a living out of music!’ I’d been told, but here I am living my dream.” How does a boy who grew up on the land in Ceres become one of Geelong’s leading showmen? I was fortunate enough to find out. Meet Joss Russell, the 22 year old who delights audiences at the Piano Bar.
“I love working there, it’s party central and so energetic. I look around the room at everyone’s smiling faces and I feel very proud. I can’t speak highly enough of the Piano Bar. The guys do so much fundraising and it’s a safe, inclusive place where people can come and not be afraid of being the person they are.”
“I started learning the piano at 4. This is a good age to start developing your feel and technique. I learnt classical piano through the Suzuki method where you listen to a CD and play the song by ear, much like humming the tune of a song you’ve heard on the radio. It’s a very enjoyable way to learn and I think it helped me feel the music rather than just read it off the page.”
“Then I had singing lessons. At 14, friends and I started a band and played the pub scene, locally and in Melbourne. It was a great way of learning about the music industry. The band was called “Where’s Joss?” which was a standing joke at Geelong College because on a nice day I couldn’t be found, I’d be down the beach or somewhere.
“I followed the advised pathway and went to Uni. I lasted a year and only passed 1 out of 8 subjects. Earlier that year, we stumbled across the Piano Bar and it was only 5 months old when I auditioned and got the job. I was performing in Melbourne full time at this stage and was too busy to study. Mum and Dad have always been so supportive and when I discussed quitting Uni they told me to follow my dream.
“I’ve been fortunate to have visited piano bars around the world too. There’s one in New York where you’re not allowed to dance. If anyone goes to dance the staff get them to sit down, imagine that! There was another in Las Vegas where it was almost like a band playing, you could barely hear the piano!
“I love our bar, and I love our patrons and staff even more, there’s no place in the world I’d rather be and I feel so lucky to be working in such a special place alongside so many beautiful people.”
Thanks for your time Joss and for everything you and the Piano Bar does for our community. It is one of our team’s favourite hang outs.
Story: Jacqui Bennett Photo: Reg Ryan