[ri-zil-yuh ns] n.
1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
If you look up that word in the dictionary Mark Ross’s picture should be placed beside it. The first time I met Mark Ross he struck me as an upbeat person who always had a smile on his face and an unwavering desire to perform. Those characteristics mixed with his outstanding talent made him a pleasure to create music with. I’m pleased and proud to call him a friend and a former band mate.
When I heard the news about “the incident” on February 19th I was shocked. I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. How could this happen to a guy who is this full of life and has such a love for live performance? My Facebook wall became flooded with messages, updates and different takes on “the incident” and I immediately checked in with another member of his band Misty Street to get a firsthand account of what happened. Upon further research I found out that Mark almost died during a show. He had collapsed on stage during the second set of a three set gig. In fact it was mid song and it was one of his songs!
Back when it happened I thought this would make for an amazing story but out of respect for Mark I held off until the right time arose. When I caught wind of the fundraiser gig I wanted to get the word out to help the cause. For those of you who don’t know Mark he is one of the most affable guys you’ll ever meet. He is the quintessential nice guy! In fact when I first approached him to set up the interview, here is what he had to say, “Before I answer the questions, I have to say I'm blown away at the response I'm receiving from the music community in Brandon. I've only been in the scene for almost 3 years now, but the love I'm getting from everyone is overwhelming. I feel like I'm part of a huge super talented dysfunctional family of misfits and weirdos. I love it!! I'll answer these questions the best that I can.”
The 41 year old Ross works for Look Music Services as a DJ/emcee at various social functions. He spends most of his free time practicing music or learning and even writing new songs. When it comes to performing music, he spends most of his time playing with popular local group Misty Street, “the band practices ( or tries to ) twice a week, at least once a week for sure. If there's a gig coming up we try to get together as much as we can to make it tight. Myself I practice a minimum of 2 hours a day.”
Another surprising part of this whole story is Mark was really serious about improving his health before the ultimate health scare occurred, “I was actually feeling really good, I had lost 20 pounds, I was working out and on a strict diet. That night I had a few adult beverages and was feeling great.” Ross says they were doing an uptempo original of his when it happened and he gave us this account of how it all went down, “It's funny now, but we were playing my own song Back Seat when all this happened. During the song Back Seat I was struggling to sing it. It's a fast paced song as you know and I thought the band was playing it extra fast. Then I realized the band was fine, it was me who couldn't keep up. After the song was done I was supposed to start the next song and I couldn't think of the right chords and couldn't catch my breath. The next thing I remember is waking up with Kelly Jones on top of me trying to keep me awake. I felt so tired. I just wanted to sleep. Kelly I believe has training in CPR so she was doing what she could until paramedics got there. Thank God for them, I was conscience the entire time so I remember everything. The poor guys had to carry me down the decker stairs. They got me into the ambulance and had to give me the paddles to stabilize my heart rate. I wouldn't have made it much longer with a heartbeat of 230bpm. It's called a V Tach or Ventricular Tachycardia.” Ross says the crowd reaction was a bit of a blur, “I don't remember anyone’s reaction personally but I know Mariah and Matt caught me so I didn't fall into my keyboards.” I for one believe it was Mark’s general upbeat disposition and love of offbeat humor that helped him through the ordeal. This recollection from punctuates that thought, “I heard I was still trying to make jokes even while I was dying (laughs). I think everyone was just in shock because it happened so fast. I think half of the Decker called 911 all at once. (laughs)” It was Mark’s penchant for quick quips that lead to the band coming up with the fundraiser idea, “The fundraiser came about when I received my ambulance bill in the mail. $675.00!! I made a joke about doing a fundraiser to help with the bill and Mariah thought it was a great plan. Any help right now is much appreciated. It's almost been 3 months without working, and that ambulance bill almost gave me another V Tach.”
Bassists Greg Gibson was as shocked as everyone was, “there were no warning signs at all. Mark and I were having a great conversation between the first and Second set discussing the show and discussing important worldly matters, such as the Deadpool movie.” Then moments later the unthinkable happened. It’s something no band ever wants to deal with but Gibson says they did the best they could considering the shocking situation, “We just finished Backseat, which is a fast Ska styled song that Mark wrote and sings, and then we started playing higher and higher and I looked over and Mark was sinking lower and lower. When it happened I think the entire band went into automatic pilot mode we just wanted to get him the help that he needed we were beside him talking to him until the paramedics arrived.” Gibson says the crowd reaction was somewhat reassuring, there was some confusion but they very concerned and very helpful. A few people appeared to have medical training which was very welcomed at that time.” Thankfully resuscitation wasn’t necessary but it was nip tuck, “Mark was groggy and extremely tired, kind of going in and out of consciousness, but he didn't completely lose consciousness at any time. When we were asking him his name and other quick mini mental status questions, he was the consummate comedian. We asked "can you tell us who you are? He answered by singing Snoop Doggy Dogg". That's when I knew he was going to be OK.”
So will they be playing Backseat during the fundraiser gig? Gibson offers this take on it, “We may save backseat for the next gig. Who knows? Maybe we will play backseat as a slow waltz. (Laughs). But we will be playing higher and higher.” Ross being his ever energetic self, had this to say, “At the fundraiser I'll be doing as much as I can. I'll be doing the classics like Michael Jackson and Elvis and of course Back Seat, the song that started this all.” The show which is billed as “The Mark is Alive Ambulance Fundraiser Gig” is set for Saturday, April 30th at the Double Decker (10th & Rosser) in downtown Brandon. In lieu of cover charge there will be a cash collection at the door so bring whatever you can afford. I’m sure Mark and the band will be more than appreciative and respond with an amazing show! Mark is getting closer and closer to feeling 100% again but he says it has been a long and tough recuperation, “I've been on antibiotics every day for 6 weeks. It's tough because I had a PICC line from my arm to my heart, so my daily activities were pretty limited. I just finished my last trip to the hospital yesterday so I'm free to recover and can't wait to get back on the stage.”
Local singer songwriter & keyboardist Mark Ross (middle) with Misty Street band mates Cy Arthurson (pictured at left) and Matt Cory (Right). Catch them in action Saturday, April 30th at the Double Decker. They’ll be playing a full show this time.