As a teenager, one of John Soss’s 19 part-time jobs involved setting up chairs in a shopping mall parking lot for a live concert performance by the legendary Buddy Rich and his big band. Later, while still in college, he landed a job that focused on finding fans to buy concert tickets, sit in chairs and watch performances by their favorite bands. Side-hobbies, writing, collecting and bicycling filled the off-hours and eventually a beach-combing routine evolved into a near-daily photo post of items gathered up along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.
1. What’s keeping you up at night?
Not the television. I sold mine several years ago so I use all of that newfound time to work on these photo projects, listen to music and chip away at life’s existential riddles, one of which involves warming up to the notion that we are not always the sole masters of change in our lives and that we are all, to some extent, under reconstruction.
That was the serious answer. From a more practical perspective, I’m usually too tired to stay up late at night. I’ve long been an early riser and on most mornings I spend a couple of hours riding my bike and walking along the beach. This is where I get most of my best thinking done and these habits tend to wear me out by the end of the night. It’s a cycle that serves me well.
We are not always the sole masters of change in our lives and that we are all, to some extent, under reconstruction.
2. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or heard lately?
It took place in my own living room. I hosted a house concert with James Elkington this winter, which was inspired by a previous event with guitarist and composer Nathan Salsburg. I’d seen James in many different settings over the years. This one was exceptional. In a cozy space with radiator heat, a bunch of mismatched chairs and about 30 people, he put together a staggeringly beautiful set of songs and peppered the night with engaging backstories, none more fascinating than the inspiration behind an incredible instrumental suite called “Rendlesham Way.” Much like his compatriot Nathan Salsburg, he’s spent a lifetime absorbing all sorts of musical and cultural influences and for one hour, in my home, it was all distilled into one of the loveliest nights of music I’ve ever been a part of.
3. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?
After the success of my first-ever photo exhibit at The Dime gallery, I’m focusing my efforts on publishing a photo book featuring images I’ve composed over the years. Now if only I could find a publisher! Also, I finally bought a camera and am in the process of learning how to up my game. I’ve spent the past seven or eight years documenting all of the items I find on the beach, and up until recently those pictures were all taken with an iPhone and edited with the Snapseed phone app. Time for a change.
4. If you could add anyone, alive or dead to your team, who would it be?
I was fortunate to have had the very best mate imaginable during a period when this beach-combing project started to play a bigger role in my life. Her presence over those years still sustains me.
5. When the movie of your life is made, what will it be called?