One rainy afternoon, I scampered to my car, leaping over puddles. I hopped in and stuck my key into the ignition. I plugged the auxiliary cable into my iPhone and pressed the power button on my dashboard. As I began driving towards West Long Branch, an array of acoustic medleys accompanied by soothing, smooth vocals permeated the air through my speakers.
I began to hum along to the song “2 Months 2 Early,” from an acoustic extended play (EP) known as “All in the Past,” as the sound of rain droplets pattered against my windshield.
After about five minutes of splashing through the saturated streets, I stopped my car in front of a brown paneled house. I ran up to the residence as quickly as possible so the writing materials inside my backpack would not get wet. Knock…Knock…Knock.
“Door’s open,” an occupant said. I stepped inside and found a man plucking the strings of a cedar colored guitar with a glistening finish reclined in an armchair while two other men, who appeared to be his housemates, sat on a couch.
As everyone greeted me, the man with the acoustic stood up and outstretched his arm. We shook hands. “It feels good to be back, dude. I was actually just working on some new stuff,” the guitarist said.
This gent is Ross Ottman, the creator of “All in the Past” and a marketing and management student at the University on a five-year graduate track. “I took a break from music so I could focus more on getting my degree,” Ottman said. “That is priority.”
Prior to his fermata, Ottman was the lead singer and guitarist of a band named The Rundown, as he also relished in a number of acoustic session successes at venues such as Brighton Bar, Marlboro Rec Center, Colts Neck Rec Center, Freehold Veterans of Foreign Wars, Red Bank Rehearsal Studio, The Inkwell Coffeehouse, and The Jersey Shore Music Festival at Lakewood Blue Claws Stadium.
With intentions to graduate in May 2016, Ottman is currently in the transitioning phase from undergraduate to graduate student at the University. “I felt it was a good time to get back into [music],” he explained. “It just felt right.”
Luckily, Ottman and the rest of his band mates in The Rundown were on the same page and left off on the right note. After the band released an EP titled “The Next Step” that featured five songs written by Ottman himself, and played a 200 person plus extended play release show live at Asbury Lanes and Game Changer World in Freehold, the band decided to take a break.
“It was pretty awesome,” stated Andy Cavallaro, the bassist and background vocalist for The Rundown. “Ross is a very smart and funny guy who has the same musical influences as me so it made it easy to work with him.”
Ottman said that regardless of who is in the band in the future, the music will keep coming. Currently, he is in the process of songwriting and brainstorming future collaborations with musicians that he has met through his musical accomplishments and concert goings.
“My plan as of now with the band and for myself is to reconvene, start to play shows, continue to make more connections, and write more music so that we can continue to grow and branch out,” he stated.
Ottman is no stranger to the world of music as he was introduced to the lifestyle at a young age. “I always made music available to Ross, and included him in on concerts, music listening, going to my gigs, etcetera, but never told him what to like, or when to pick up an instrument, or when to start writing songs,” explained Lee Ottman, the musician’s father. “I feel like I laid the foundation, but he took ‘the steps’ in when he was ready.”
Now that he already made the initial steps, Ottman is back and ready for new endeavors. He said that it was nice to refocus, but he is looking forward to start playing acoustic shows again.
“The amount of people I have been able to meet through playing shows alone has been phenomenal and it has given me some of the best friends that I have right now,” Ottman said. “I am excited to share my new material with the world.”
Keep an eye out for Ottman’s name on campus set lists, as this will be the awaited return of a talented University musician.
IMAGE TAKEN from NJ-TownProductionsRoss