What do Alessia Cara, Jason Mraz and Celine Dion have in common? You’d be suprised to find out it’s former Hamilton musician Eric Ruscinski. We first were documenting Ruscinski’s career in music back in 2009 when he was playing the local stages with his band City Sirens but a lot has happened in a decade and these days, Ruscinski is living in Los Angeles or playing in studios or stadiums around the world. With a special return to his old stomping grounds, Ruscinski came up with an idea that might help other young inspiring musicians.
“I still get to see the guys from City Sirens every once in a while and I think that everyone’s doing pretty good,” says Ruscinski. “We had a good time driving in vans and taking it across the country. It taught us resilience with the challenges we faced on the road doing it yourself and it was good to experience that early. It makes me appreciate the little things I experience now a little more. There were a lot of valuable lessons with City Sirens but probably the best and most fun times.”
Ten years ago, City Sirens released their breakthrough debut and were poised to take on the world with their follow up but the story as with a lot of young bands fresh out of high school, things don’t always go as planned. The band broke up and the Saltfleet high school grad, got work playing with Canadian Idol Brian Melo and then got work in the band for YTV’s The Next Star for the next four years while still teaching at area music stores. It was a chance encounter at one of those music networking festivals in Toronto that actually panned out when he met a manager looking for a guitarist for one of his artists. That artist was Alessia Cara and Ruscinski has since toured the continent with the Grammy winning artist, recently posting a photo of him Alessia and Jimmy Fallon on his social media.
“I was teaching music and taking a lot of different opportunities with anything to do with music,” says Ruscinski. “A lot of work and effort might manifest itself into one pivotal moment but it’s more about your general attitude over a larger period of time and a lot of little things added to where I am today. I’ve been lucky enough to play with Alessia over the last five years and we went from a small rehearsal room in Mississauga to playing the Rogers Center and beyond.”
From Saturday Night Live to a world stadium tour with Coldplay, Ruscinski has achieved a lot of dreams as part of Cara’s band but he’s always looking to expand his work, recently getting more involved with studio work on a variety of projects including Celine Dion’s newest album. What’s the secret to Ruscinski’s success?
“Some people call it luck but I was really determined from a young age from high school and new music was something I wanted to take seriously and do it for a living so I was going to do anything it took to get there,” says Ruscinski. “It’s not for everyone, I’m sure, as it does have it’s challenges. I’m very grateful and fortunate. You don’t know if your goals as a young musician are possible. You can drive by the Rogers Centre but don’t know if you will ever play there but this year I got to do that with Alessia and I am very content with life and very reflective with the experiences I’ve had while at the same time pushing into new territory and getting better all the time. I’ve been doing more studio work when I’m not on the road — I just played piano on one song but yes, I was minimally involved with Celine Dion’s new album on a song called “Look At Us Now”.”
With the holidays, Ruscinski is not only getting together with his local family for holiday cheer but also gathering some local musical friends for a workshop to share some of those secrets for sucess to local musicians with an intimate and educational workshop about growing as a musician and building a career in music.
“I still blow people away with the fact that Hamilton is the waterfall capital of the world,” laughs Ruscinski. “Hamilton is where I grew up and it still feels very much like home. I’m very Hamilton at heart and all of my family is there so I’m flying in to spend time with them for the holidays — and there are a lot of musicians that I look up to in Hamilton so I’m excited to come back. Brian Melo always gave me positive advice and set an example for me even in terms of the psychology that goes into being a musician. People like Joe Cacioppo, a Hamilton tour manager and Carm Milioto who owns Studio 410 are friends so we came up with the idea to get everyone into the same room and talk about music and all of our experiences. We’ve also invited my friends in the Redhill Valleys who are also from Hamilton making some waves in the industry.
“I think it’s going to be cool and getting together with some friends is the theme of the workshop,” adds Ruscinski. “Adding any positivity in this world will go a long way and I think Brian Melo and the Redhill Valleys feel the same way. I don’t know if I’m making a positive change in the world but I’d like to think that I can inspire other people the way I’ve been inspired. I hope we have some musicians come out that want to take some serious steps for performing, recording or writing or pushing themselves to do as a new challenge. I hope anyone who loves music comes out for some lively discussion and performances but also some musicians that want to have conversations with other people that are in the industry. Brian Melo has lots of stories — the Redhill Valleys are doing amazing things with not a lot of help and we all have different stories about challenges to discuss. I hope to keep this event conversational so that everyone can get involved. We’re going to ask each other some challenging questions as it’s not all fun and games. We hope to provide some help even if it’s a casual hang and with the event we are even raising funds for An Artist For Every Child. Anyone looking for tickets can message me on Facebook or Instagram. I always loved teaching music and it’s important to help other people. The idea of mentorship is important and I think it helped me see what’s possible and develop my work ethic. This event is an opportunity to inspire young musicians because if you work at it, you can do anything in the world. If it’s music, I’d like to see more people go after their dreams.” V
A Holiday Music Workshop - A Career in Music with Eric Ruscinski, Brian Melo and The Redhill Valleys happens this Saturday December 21 at Studio 410 (410 Regional Road 20, Hannon) from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM with your $10 ticket going to An Instrument For Every Child. Find the event on eventbrite.com or click on ericruscinskimusic.com