“The struggling musician” is a stereotype that holds true for many trying to make it in the music industry, as performances are unpredictable and gigs can be feast or famine, subject to the whims of public tastes. Jody is just one of hundreds of struggling musicians in Seattle who previously made a decent living. He plays the drums in some smaller bands, but the economic downturn hit the small to medium-sized music scene hard. A man who made music in many of Seattle’s famous venues such as The Tractor, El Corazon, Neuoms, and The Crocodile, when he wasn’t travelling to California or Las Vegas with the bands, Jody has been struggling to keep himself afloat for the last five or six years. When he isn’t playing, Jody works refurbishing drum sets, but those services aren’t as necessary when his customers can barely afford to pay their own bills, let alone fix their instruments.
To complicate matters, Jody has severe inner ear problems and needs another surgery to fix the tumors growing there, but if he gets the surgery, he will be unable to play the few gigs he has, leaving him without any income. It was in this situation that Jody found himself applying to Energy Assistance at Byrd Barr Place at the end of 2013. With his federal grant only covering about half of his electric bill, Jody didn’t know what he was going to do, until he got a call from Byrd Barr Place informing him of a Bridge the Gap donation of $315 to keep his lights on. A proud man used to taking care of himself since he left home at 16, Jody struggled with the decision to come in to apply for assistance, and was appreciative but uncomfortable with the anonymous donation made to his account. “It is not a common thing for me to accept charity, but I appreciate it,” Jody said, his tone of voice distant as he reflected on how much his life has changed in the last few years.