By Kelly Braun
Blue skies, sandy beaches and a guitar strapped around his shoulder, Jordan Ross of Rockford says he's had the summer of a lifetime.
Ross, who will be a senior at Miami University, Oxford, has spent the summer playing his guitar at clubs on Hilton Head Island, S.C. The experience has led him toward a career in the music industry.
"This really all happened pretty quick," Ross says during a phone interview. "I just did my first solo gig eight months ago during an open mic night and now I'm down here playing all the time."
He returns home Saturday and will play on the outdoor deck at the Moose Lodge in Celina on Sunday afternoon. He'll also play at a Rockford swimming pool benefit on Aug. 20, and then will return to college this fall.
The 20-year-old Ross, who is counting down the days until he is 21, says he began playing piano at age 6, picked up a guitar around age 11 and began singing publicly during high school. He is mostly self taught, only having had piano lessons as a child and a few guitar sessions. While at college last year, he played during an open mic night at a bar. The owner (who is also a friend) saw his talent and set him up to play the club scene in Hilton Head.
He says the first month on the island was rough -- not having many dates to play -- but that didn't last. Soon he was playing six shows a week and was booked for the rest of the summer. He's played at some of the top night clubs there, opened for the Little River Band and played with members of 7 Mary 3.
"They (7 Mary 3) were at my show and I asked them to come up and play with me and they did," he says, adding that this summer has been a great experience.
"It's been the best -- going away and making a lot of friends, meeting a lot of promoters," he says.
His show, which is Ross on guitar and vocals with friend Taz Rashid of Dayton playing bass, includes popular music from the 1960s to 1990s. He also sings original songs he wrote.
Ross has a demo CD that he hands out at his shows. He hopes to soon be able to record a full-length disc.
"I've been writing like crazy for the past six months," he says. "I've got 60-70 ideas for songs and 10 full songs already written."
After graduating college, Ross plans to spend another summer playing clubs in Hilton Head and already has an offer to play at clubs during the winter months in Vail, Colo.
"I've gotten so many offers to come back. I just can't turn it down," he says.
And after that? Ross isn't sure, but knows he wants a career in the music industry.
"It's my life. I can't get away from it," he says.