Accounting alum marches to the beat of a different drum
John Canada isn’t your ordinary School of Accountancy alum. Instead of spending his career balancing spreadsheets, the Birmingham native moves to the beat of a different drum. Literally.
After a successful internship, the 2016 Master of Accountancy graduate was offered a full-time position at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Nashville. But his passion for pursuing a career in the music industry was overwhelming.
“It wasn’t until this internship that the reality of the real world started to hit me,” he says. “It seemed like this was going to be life. You get up, go to work, eat lunch, work, eat dinner, go home . . . and then what? Would I be too tired at the end of the day to work on my musical ideas? Music is always something I’ve wanted to make a living doing, but I never thought I would or could actually do it.”
But he is.
Canada is lead percussionist and sings vocals for the Birmingham-based, four-man party band The Brook and the Bluff. What started out as small-time gigs as a cover band at local bars and restaurants is blossoming into something much larger.
“We have been in the studio recording new songs, which are being released as singles every few months,” says Canada, who originally played with the band in Auburn on Iron Bowl weekend of 2015. “This strategy has proved to be very effective and puts a lot of emphasis on each and every release.”
The group’s goal is to play 52 original shows in 52 weeks in as many cities as possible. “We are about halfway to our goal, so a little ahead of schedule, thankfully,” he says. “In August, we will do a two-week tour up to New York City and back, stopping in places like Athens, Ga., Nashville, Charlotte, and Washington, DC.” The group set up permanent shop in Nashville in early 2018.
Canada, who performed in college with the local band John Wilkris Trio, described the band’s sound as “indie rock with a good amount of soul.”
“What makes The Brook and The Bluff special is emphasis on vocals,” he says. “All four members of the band sing, so each arrangement is centered around the vocals. Each of us come from a choir background, so harmony is something that comes naturally to each of us. In terms of genre, we draw a lot of inspiration from acts like the Alabama Shakes, John Mayer, and The Beatles.”
When Canada phoned the PwC recruiter and informed him that he was “taking another path” and needed a year to re-assess, he had no idea how far this would go. “As the band continued to progress, I realized that we would not be defined as a success or failure in one year’s time,” he says. “Pursuits like these take time to lay a foundation and build upon. I wouldn’t ever give your dream a timeline.”
Canada encourages people to pursue their dreams, even if it means leaving something secure behind.
“I think the weight of the question ‘what if?’ is so much heavier than ‘what if I fail?’” he says. “If you try and fail at something, at least you can say you tried. Everyone wants to make a living doing what fulfills them and makes them happy. There is no faster way to learn than by diving right in and putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation. You will be pleasantly surprised at everything you will learn in the process.”