SHAWNEE — Being an artist is not easy — life often places hurdles some need to jump over to reach their dreams. For one resident of Perry county, his work ethic and belief in himself has been his strength in his goal of playing music full-time.
Born and raised in Perry County, Randy Gleason has always lived in the area going to Southern Local schools. Gleason grew up listening to classic rock, of which his parents were fans. Because of this, he started taking music lessons before he became a teen.
“I started playing music around the age of 12,” Gleason said. “It turned into a passion when I kind of realized it was something I was good at.”
Listening to all of the classic hits, Gleason was inspired to take his talents and turn it into something more. Sports is a typical path students get into while in school but for Gleason, he saw something more in the trajectory of his music. Through his developmental days, his passion was fueled by the music around him.
“I always listen to music, my parents were very avid music fans,” Gleason explained. “It was just always in the house.”
Initially, by way of his parents, Gleason gravitated to playing classic rock which has a wealth of historic hits to choose from. Like any artist, he was enthralled with other forms of rock dabbling in the sub genres of rock as well as heavy metal music.
For every artist, the ability to learn from those who have done it can be a valuable tool and asset especially when developing a style. For the 24-year-old, his mentor was in the form of his music teacher, Connie Barnes, who was able to work with him throughout his time at Southern Local schools. The pair first met while Gleason was in elementary school and would later transfer to the high school further helping the aspiring musician.
“She always pushed me to learn more musical theory and she was very supportive,” Gleason recalled. “She always wanted me to play the guitar any chance I got when I was in music class.”
Gleason added that Barnes would push him to perform in front of class or at school sponsored events. Giving him the confidence he needed, Gleason took the lessons learned in the classroom and has since applied it to his life as an adult. He would eventually graduate from high school in 2014.
Since moving on from school, Gleason is committed to playing his music full time without supplementing a part time job. Living and growing up in the county, Gleason understands the risks he needs to take in order to make his dreams into a reality.
“It’s definitely not easy,” Gleason commented. “Between doing work… it’s always a very consistent amount of work.”
Gleason’s duties are lengthy as he is always reaching out to local establishments in order to get him booked for a show. He spends his days constantly contacting businesses such as bars and pizza shops to get himself in front of a crowd. When he gets booked, he could spend anywhere from 30 minutes to eight hours playing music. But the show does not stop there because he is always thinking about what his next show is going to be.
“It’s almost like every day, even if it’s only for 20 or 30 minutes, you’re still working towards something,” Gleason said. “You might be promoting, creating posters or you might be calling and following up with bars… it’s not the easiest.”
Through his work and his commitment, Gleason is a regular at Trotter’s, a bar and grill establishment located in the Village of New Lexington. Even with his regular occurrence, he has bigger aspirations with his talent.
“My big dream with music is to just being able to pursue it as a living for the rest of my life,” Gleason stated.
Gleason started playing music at Trotters approximately a year and a half ago. He added that playing at the local business on North Main Street was a big step for him and one of his favorite memories. He started playing there every Wednesday throughout last year. Having this a place to express his art pushes him to reach further.
“It makes me very happy to see that I am bringing a following to Trotters every Wednesday and that people are taking their time to come and watch me,” Gleason commented.
Currently, locals who wish to see him perform can do so at Trotter’s Pub and Grill every Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. along with other venues around southeast Ohio. He typically performs his music at bars, wineries, breweries and clubs.
It is difficult to understand why someone, like Gleason, would perform in front of a live audience. For him, it is more than just being able to play as he describes the feeling of being on stage as “euphoric.”
“When I get up on stage and play, I’m just in love with it,” Gleason explained. “I get up there and I have a very good time whether there two… or 200 people, I still give it 110 percent.”
Even with a mentor believing in him and a steady show, the 24-year-old from Shawnee has had more hurdles to jump through than some may think.
“I was always told that I needed not play music and go get a real job,” Gleason commented. “It was family doubts that hurt.”
He added that through his troubles, he still is committed to making a living through his music because “if you put the work in, you can achieve it.”
“If kids want to pursue their dreams, they need to pursue them… you need to put the work in,” Gleason said. “Pay your dues and they will come.”