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Riding the musical wave wherever it leads

This weeks Midweek Mugging features musician and publicist Tyler Belluz.

Making music has been a way of life for Guelph musician and publicist Tyler Belluz for more than a decade and it has taken him in a variety of directions.

“It is definitely the only thing I know,” said Belluz. “My whole life is like having little lottery tickets. So, it just depends on how things work out.”

Belluz has built a reputation as a skilled and versatile bass player in genres ranging from classical and folk to Gypsy Jazz and surf rock.

He is also an established music teacher, composer and promoter through his label Missed Connections Records and Home Base PR.

“Half my living is teaching kids beginner piano, guitar and electric bass after school,” he said. “During the day I do music publicity.”

His first professional foray into the music business happened in 2005 immediately after he graduated from Indiana University with a degree in classical musical specializing in double bass performance for orchestra.

“I used to freelance in the orchestra world and my longest stint was a couple long-term engagements with Calgary Philharmonic,” said Belluz. “I played with many orchestras around Canada. It was definitely my thing. I had a whole other life planned.”

He was forced to change that plan in 2010.

“The more you freelance the more money you make and I took on too much of a workload and permanently injured myself,” he said. “In my back I have four or five pinched nerves concentrated in one area. I did years of therapy and nothing worked. It all attaches basically down to your fingers.”

He couldn’t work so he moved home with his parents in Milton

“It was a tough transition because I couldn’t work for a living and none of my friends were in Milton,” he said. “My degree couldn’t even get me a Starbucks job. I got rejected by Starbucks. I had no idea what to do.”

It was a low point in his life but he wasn’t going to give up on his passion for music.

“The one positive that came out of that was that I learned how to create music as opposed to just playing music,” he said. “That is when I started connecting with bands and everything kind of snowballed from there.”

He began collaborating with a number of Guelph musicians.

“I’ve dabbled in all types of genres,” he said. “This town is known for folk so I played in a lot of folk groups. I played in a group called Bry Webb, a cover band called the Peptones and surf rock band the Legato Vipers.”

He also toured much of the world with Guelph guitarist Adrian Raso and Romanian Gypsy Jazz brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia. They just secured a grant to produce a new album and have plans for another major tour this summer.

“I am going to help write some of the songs for the new album,” said Belluz. “Before I was just playing bass on finished tracks. So, that’s interesting. I am also co-writing an album with a friend that may come out a year from now.”

He has continued to grow his contacts and clients for his publicist business Home Base PR.

“I thought that I have to think outside the box,” he said. “At one time I paid a publicist and it was great but I couldn’t afford to do it and I figured out how to do it on my own on a small scale. I started building contacts and eventually I had a thousand contacts.

Technically PR is on the computer so I can do it anywhere.”

Having a variety of options has given him a sense of job security.

“It’s not than I am at a crossroads,” said Belluz. “I feel pretty comfortable having 400 jobs. I know that everything is fleeting. I might get a hundred shows with Fanfare this year but it’s not likely that will happen next year so, what am I going to do then? Maybe there is another lottery ticket waiting to be cashed five years from now.”