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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Local performers forward Global Rising Song proceeds to Essex Area Food Bank

photo submitted.

Recently, local musicians, John Flood and Russ Bechard, forwarded a $1312 donation to the Essex Area Food Bank to support the community during a time of need.

  The duo earned the funds during a recent, and virtual, Global Rising Song country music competition, which is held out of Nashville, Tennessee.

  Flood, who is of Maidstone, noted in the competition, fans could support their favourite songwriters by donating $1 a vote. The songwriters can use the money to help pay bills, or they can give it back to their communities. The local duo was pleased to support a local organization that is putting food on the tables of local families and individuals in need, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, with their proceeds.

  “We’re so proud to be a small part of this. The large amount of credit goes to all of you who supported us,” Flood said, adding they were proud to present the check to Essex Area Food Bank Volunteer Board Director, Lonnie Jones, on behalf of everyone who supported them in the competition.

  The local duo made it to round four of the recent Global Rising Song competition. He noted the local musicians did not win round four as a donation came in during the last 20-minutes of the round that knocked them out of first place, which they held the whole week of the competition round.

  Flood picked up a guitar at age 33, watched a couple YouTube videos, and taught himself how to play, “And that’s where it started,” he said of this journey.

“At 19, I was riding around in my ‘81 Dodge truck on a date with my girlfriend – now wife, Tammy – and had a conversation. I asked her if you had all the money ever needed in life, what would be your life dream? She responded, ‘I would own a zoo,’ as she loves animals. We laughed and she asked me the same question. My response was ‘I would have a song on the radio. It doesn’t have to be me singing; just my words, and my thoughts.’”

  The couple later married and had children (Grace, 16, Claire, 9, and Kolton, 5). Years went by, and that conversation and dream never left him as he would sing to the dashboard of the tractor trailer he drives.

“I brought that conversation up to Tammy, my wife now of 17-years, and she encouraged me to do something about it,” he said. After teaching himself the basics, he started playing a couple songs that were on the radio, and was invited to open up for a band at a 100th birthday party.

  To his surprise, when he showed up, there were approximately 200 people. “I was scared to death. This was the place where I had first met Russ Bechard. I started playing my first song, and he walked up and sat down and accompanied me on his steel guitar. I will never forget that day,” he said.

  Bechard and Flood developed a great friendship over the past couple years, as they started getting together and playing tunes.

  Flood was a little tired of playing the same songs on the radio, so he decided to try his hand at writing his own tunes a couple of years ago. “It started with one song, then two with others, to come where now I have about a dozen or so. We would play these songs, just messing around at parties, or camp fires, with an overwhelming response. People would ask, ‘who sings that song? It was great.’ I appreciated the compliment, but took it as biased opinions, because they knew me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings.”

  Last year, Flood drove down to Nashville, Tennessee to compete in the Nashville Rising Song competition. He did not tell anyone he went, except for family members and close friends. “I did this to prove to myself what everyone was saying could be true. It was a selfish trip on my part, but I didn’t regret that. What a feeling to perform in the place where country music is made.”

  He ended up earning second place, three votes behind the first-place winner.

  Flood was planning on going back to Nashville to compete again this year, but COVID-19 hit. The creator of Nashville Rising Song, Keith Mohr – who has held open mic contests for years in Nashville, which discovered greats like Kelsea Ballerini, who is now a member of the Grand Ole Opry – launched an online version of this competition to help songwriters.

  Through Global Rising Song, “We definitely turned some heads in Nashville as we were personally invited to the finals of the competition,” Flood said, noting Mohr reached out to invite him via a message on Facebook that read, “I would personally like to invite you to join the winners in the finals of Global Rising Song! You deserve to be there!”  

  “Wow, what a message. A couple small town boys from Maidstone, Ontario being presented on not only a Nashville stage, but a global stage. It still gives me chills. The finals are tentatively scheduled for September 1, where 23 songs, and songwriters, will be showcased at”

  “Russ and I are so excited and thankful for each and every vote that we received in Global Rising Song from all of you. Thank you, thank you so much for the support. We will be donating our portion from the finals to another food bank in the area as well to help them out in these hard times,” Flood noted. “We can’t thank everyone enough, and we’re so proud to be a part of this community.”

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