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Enjoying being behind the scenes, in work and music

Rick Stratton likes to be behind the scenes. At Queen’s, he’s a timetable administrator in the registrar’s office, doing the detailed work of scheduling classes and exams. His work isn’t something people think about very often, but without him, the university would be a very disorganized place.

Same goes for his creative life outside of work. In his spare time, he’s a bass player for The Paradise Eaters, a local band that plays rock infused with folk, funk and jazz – great dancing music.

“The bass is really the unsung hero in a band,” says Rick. “People don’t notice it until it’s gone.”

Rick Stratton, who works in the registrar's office and is a father of two, says playing in a band keeps him and his bandmates feeling young.

While not front and centre, the bass player’s role is key to bringing a group’s sound together. “The drums are percussive and the guitars provide the melody, but the bass is both percussive and melodic – it has to blend everything together. It’s the glue,” he says. “The bass has to be very much in tune with the others in the band and be able to anticipate shifts and improvise.”

The Paradise Eaters is made up of Andy Hills, Frank Carone, Phil Wright and Rick. They’ve played shows around Kingston – at the Mansion, the Tir Nan Og, Musiikki and at outdoor festivals. This past summer, the band also played a show at OWL Rafting on the Ottawa River.

“A lot of students come to our shows, and it’s great, their energy – it reminds me what it’s like to be their age, and it helps keep us all young,” says Rick, who is in his late-30s and has two young children.

A Queen’s graduate, Rick studied computer science. And while he played bass guitar in high school – a group he was involved in opened for Great Big Sea in Kingston in 1996 – he didn’t buy his own bass until he was at Queen’s. He started going to open mic nights, and sought out other musicians to play with. His major musical influences include Béla Fleck (he named his son after bass player Victor Wooten), the Dave Matthews Band, Led Zeppelin and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

After moving around the country, to Vancouver and Montreal, Rick eventually ended up back in Kingston. He joined The Paradise Eaters three years ago, and soon after, he began working at Queen’s, first in ITServices, and then in the Office of the University Registrar.

“It’s a lot of fun, the band. All of us have families and jobs, and those things are our priorities. But playing with the band is something I look forward to, something I really enjoy.”

To listen to Rick and The Paradise Eaters, and for upcoming shows, visit their Facebook page.