Ojai man lands dream job
by Kelly Feser Eells
Before starting his new job, 24-year-old Micah Gustafson of Ojai
was asked to meet with the owner of his employer's, the John
Lennon Songwriting Contest Educational Tour Bus, trademark.
And he was more than happy to do so, even if it meant taking
the red eye to New York Tuesday night. Gustafson indicated that,
while meeting Yoko Ono would be "very cool," he was
also hoping Sean Lennon - "an amazing musician" in
his own right - would be on hand, as well.
A recent graduate of Expression Center for New Media, a Bay area
(Emeryville) "total immersion school" offering degrees
in sound arts, web design, and digital visual media, Gustafson
is even more enthusiastic about entering the workforce - especially
since he will be working in a field dear to his heart: music.
"There's a placement department," Gustafson explained,
"at my school," that recommends a distinguished graduate
from each of its three degree programs to jobs in their selected
field of study. In Gustafson's case, that field is audio engineering.
Following his stop at the Ono-Lennon residence, Gustafson will
board his office-on-wheels.
"My tour is, essentially, open-ended," he said, pointing
out that, like any job, he plans on staying on until either he
or his employer says otherwise. For some six months out of the
year, "the bus drives all around the country," making
stops at music festivals, major crowd-drawing concert tours,
high schools, boys and girls clubs, and cities with large concentrations
of "underprivileged kids." The JLSC Educational Tour
Bus, Gustafson laughed, "is huge, a big driving billboard."
However, what this "billboard" advertises is education
- music education, in particular. A promotional adjunct of the
John Lennon Songwriting Contest, the tour bus provides outreach
and free educational labs to students demonstrating an interest
in the recording arts. One of the most rewarding aspects of the
program, per Gustafson, is "helping them craft a song; and,
at the end of six hours (a typical school day)," they will
have, using state-of-the-art technology in the process.
The tour bus is a "mobile recording studio," complete
with 32 digital track recording; keyboards; guitars; basses;
drums; CD burners; film scoring and video editing equipment,
plus a P.A. system for on-site performances. A number of JLSC
executive committee judges, including Paula Cole, Blues Traveler,
Joan Osborne, and Barenaked Ladies, voluntarily recruited themselves
after enjoying an impromptu "jam" on the bus.
Both the contest and the tour bus program share the goal of widening
aspiring songwriters' opportunity and encouraging creativity.
Acknowledging that it was an honor to have been recommended for
the job, Gustafson adds that he's "really excited"
about teaching and making music on the road. "We start in
New York, go on to Texas, Florida..."
And the bus's first concert venue?
"The Dave Matthews Band tour. We may go to a few of those
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news