Powell River RCMP constable Jen Crossman is often seen around town in her cruiser attending to her regular job, but most people are unaware that the constable is also an accomplished musician who moonlights as a drummer on weekends.
“Music is very important,” said Crossman, who started playing drums when she was 11 and received her first drum set for Christmas. By the time she was in her teens, she was playing in four different bands.
“I would spend hours just playing,” said Crossman.
She even picked up the saxophone and can play it with some dexterity.
“My music teacher said he needed a saxophone player for an event, so I said, ‘I’ll play it,” never having played it before,” she added.
Crossman said she was able to get the basics over a weekend and was soon taking piano lessons. How good was she? Her music teacher told her, “There's nothing more that I can teach you,” she said.
But in the small town of Lyons Brook, Nova Scotia, there were not any options for her to continue, and with her late teens approaching, Crossman said she felt compelled to make a decision regarding her future. She found herself torn between careers: music or the RCMP.
Music just did not seem viable as a career, she said, so it was with a heavy heart she sold her drum set.
As a full-time constable stationed in Powell River, her duties were in the way and music was put aside. But she said she soon realized that a work/life balance was not happening.
“I needed another hobby,” she added.
It wasn't until a chance meeting at a friend’s wedding earlier this year that opportunity came knocking. She was able to sit in for the drummer with the band and was met with approval all around.
Afterward, the lead singer mentioned the local jam session at Carlson Community Club that takes place every Friday. On June 30 of this year, after 20 long years of not playing, Crossman finally picked up the sticks again, and she was hooked.
Now on most Fridays she can be found pounding out the beat for local bands Paradise or Doug and Friends at the club. To her surprise, she said she found out she is the only female drummer in Powell River and has received a fair bit of recognition as a result.
Crossman said her favourite drummers include Kenny Aronoff, Neil Peart and Fritz Lewak. Her musical influences range from Melissa Etheridge and Bruce Springsteen to Metallica, and even jazz.
Music serves as a distraction from the demands of police work, said Crossman. When playing, “I forget what it is I really do for a job,” she added.
Not one to sit still, Crossman said she is looking forward to starting her own band. Now the proud owner of a Yamaha eight-piece kit at home, the community has only just begun to hear from her.