Not so long ago, people would leave school and choose a career. That career would often be their identity – teacher, accountant, steelworker, etc. They might “climb the corporate ladder” or gain additional responsibilities over time, but they essentially had the same career until retirement.
We now live in a different age.
Today, the average person can expect to change jobs 10-15 times in their life. This metamorphosis and constant reinventing of oneself can be easier for some than others and establishments such as Lorain County Community College are here to assist non-traditional students with that metamorphosis. Such is the case with Tim Blake.
Blake’s professional life can be described using many words – former steel worker, retiree, bar owner, property manager, musician, LCCC student, entrepreneur, etc. However, the one constant for Blake has always been music.
“Music has always been a side business while I mainly supported my family as a union steelworker, property manager and bar owner” explained Blake. “I was always able to enjoy my music business, because I was creating music and working gigs on my own schedule.”
Learning music came at any early age for Blake. “I took accordion lessons at the age of 7 through the encouragement of my parents. The lessons lasted about two years until I realized it was much cooler to be a guitar player then an accordion player,” Blake said. “I bought my first guitar with my own saved-up money from a music store in downtown Lorain – much to my parents’ dismay – and taught myself how to play. The music of the 70s inspired me to write my own songs and I was influenced strongly by the singer/songwriters of the times, including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Crosby Stills Nash and the Beatles.”
In 1984, Blake made the leap of playing for his own enjoyment to playing for the enjoyment of others.
“After learning many songs which were popular at the time, I started playing them at venues throughout Lorain County at the age of 18. Music was huge back then and I started getting paid for something I loved to do. I soon formed the Tim Blake Band and played gigs while also working at the Lorain steel mill. My passion for music led me to create Quarry Rock Records, where I wrote, recorded and produced my own songs. I also owned my own bar in Amherst for a few years, where I promoted music by giving other local artists a place to jam.”
Like many composers, Blake’s original songs are a reflection of his experiences.
“My musical ideas have always came from the interesting people and places I have met through the years, writing songs that most people can relate to in some way,” he explained. “Writing a song usually expresses a feeling someone has at any particular moment and putting those feelings and ideas to a melody. By recording a song or playing at live shows, I am able to share these words and ideas with many people and hopefully they can find something to relate to in their own lives.”
A major turning point in Blake’s music career came with the creation of his song, “Take Another Route.” The song and subsequent video that Blake produced showcases Blake singing about American job loss and its effect on the once-booming steel industry in Lorain.
“In 2016, the steel mill was shut down after 120 years of operation,” explained Blake. “This obviously had a devastating effect on the workers and the entire region and I wanted to honor all of the men and women who have ever worked there. The timing of the video I created for the song led to other things. It received national television exposure and I was contacted and supported by radio stations from many other countries, including the BBC, who created a news story on the failing U.S. steel business.”
His work on the “Take Another Route” video also led Blake to become an LCCC student. “I am currently a student at LCCC and taking a field video production class to move forward and expand my business to include professional videos,” Blake explained. “Although I am by far the oldest person in the class, I am passionate about what I am learning and enjoy spending time with such a diverse and friendly group of students.”
While on the LCCC campus, Blake learned about NEO LaunchNET.
“After passing by the NEO LaunchNET office many times, I stopped in to see what it was all about. My first experience was an inspiring meeting where I presented my ideas and was accepted wholeheartedly by professionals in a very encouraging and friendly way.” Blake described himself as amazed by all of the resources available at LCCC.
“Everyone on staff is committed to make things happen immediately. All of my questions and doubts were met with solutions and answers to moving forward and expanding my business. I also found my own initiative and efforts were very necessary to accomplish my goals.”
Blake went on to say that NEO LaunchNet has provided him with the resources and encouragement necessary to move forward with his business. “It is always very easy to lose sight of where you are going, but knowing professional support is always available helps me focus on reaching my goals. My new friends Janice Lapina and Becky Abraham were totally responsible for me becoming a student at LCCC, where I am learning the necessary skills to create music videos. I am very confident many more opportunities and ideas will come from that time I just happened to stop in and check out NEO LaunchNET.”
So where will Blake go from here?
“My goals for the immediate future are to learn as much as I can about video production and incorporate my music in them. I am currently working with the program Songwriters with Soldiers and the Delivering Restorative Energy to our Warriors (DREW) project. Since October, I have written ‘Boy with a Soldiers Heart’ and ‘Peace Within your Eyes,’ using the stories of two Vietnam veterans. The third song will be written by me and a veteran and will be performed through Music on a Mission – the Avon Lake nonprofit that brings the healing power of music to those with special needs.”
While Blake plays music for the shear enjoyment, he now has his video skills learned at LCCC that will allow him to reach an even broader audience. Whether it’s working with and developing local talent, songwriters needing a professional outlet to market their talents, building awareness of veterans’ issues or even showcasing historic area landmarks such as the Lorain Lighthouse and the Lorain County Metro Parks, Blake’s music has a message that deserves to be experienced by all.
To see Tim’s video “Take Another Route,” click here.