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Watertown restaurant offers gig to Army medic who started singing while out drinking beers | Arts and Entertainment



WATERTOWN — Jacob Ploch was at a bar on Public Square last week when he started to sing at his table.

The owner offered for him to come back the next day to play a gig, adding to the list of moments in which the young medic, humanitarian and biker has taken chances and acted instead of watching from the sidelines.

It was last Wednesday afternoon and Mr. Ploch, a 25-year-old Army medic at Fort Drum, was at Spokes on Public Square with a few friends. Mr. Ploch has been singing with his 11 guitars for years now, and he was meeting with some potential mates to form a band.

They asked the owner about openings to play and were told the earliest might be September, and Mr. Ploch was OK with that. He has not had a gig since before the COVID-19 pandemic, so waiting really was not an issue. The night went on, with the Army medic not really thinking much of a potential gig.

Army medic sings way to local gig

Jacob Ploch, of New Jersey, stationed at Fort Drum, stands with his guitar outside of Spokes on Public Square in Watertown last Friday. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

At one point, Mr. Ploch started asking his friends if they knew a few songs. He asked if they knew “Sister Golden Hair” by the band America, and their guitarist did not.

“So I started singing,” he said.

There has to be a healthy amount of confidence to start singing in a restaurant where he was not being paid to do it, running the risk of upsetting the people eating there or the people working there.

“The owner came out and was like, ‘Who’s singing out there?’” Mr. Ploch said. “I was just like, ‘It’s me and I can stop if you want.’ And she said, ‘Keep going.’”

He kept singing and the owner kept listening, taking videos of him and eventually offering him to come back the next day to play a gig. He took them up on their offer and played at Spokes the next day.

Exiting his comfort zone is nothing new to Mr. Ploch. He was a humanitarian before joining the Army, traveling to Vancouver to be a guest speaker at family camps, or going to work in Jamaica or the Dominican Republic.

“I’m a firm believer in when you see something you don’t like,” he said, “do something about it.”

That is no different than why Mr. Ploch, whose dad was a police officer for 25 years and mom a nurse, joined the Army.

“I had a lot of buddies who were in the service,” he said. “A lot of them ended up not coming home, so I was like you know what, I’m kind of tired of seeing this and I’m going to do something about it, so I enlisted as a medic.”

The trend continued when he joined the Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, which is popular in the Rochester and Albany areas and just reached more than 3,000 members worldwide. He got involved almost by happenstance, when he was driving his bike through post and saw three parked motorcycles. He stopped just to say hello, and they said they were going to join the club. So he just followed them.

“The rest is history,” he said.

The club is mostly there to do charity work and outreach programs, he said. Every month, he participates in Feed The Vets with the club. One of his favorite memories came shortly after he joined, when a child had a tumor in his head and just got out of surgery. The child loved motorcycles and cars, so his family reached out to the club to see what they could do. The club drove more than 150 bikes and 50 cars around the child’s block several times so he could see them.

“The first question I get most of the time is, ‘Are you guys like Sons of Anarchy?’” he said. “Absolutely not. We are the furthest thing from Sons of Anarchy you could find.”

Army medic sings way to local gig

Jacob Ploch, of New Jersey, who is stationed at Fort Drum, shows off a guitar strap he made. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

That has been the trend of Mr. Ploch’s young adulthood. He hopes to continue his singing career and get more gigs. He writes his own music, too. Before the pandemic, he wrote mostly pop music, but over the quarantine period he decided to turn the timeline back. He started paying more attention to bands like AC/DC, Eddie Van Halen, Slash and one of his favorite blues artists, Seasick Steve.

“So with the combination of classic rock, me loving country music and Seasick Steve’s influence, I kind of bring a classic rock, southern blues tone,” he said. “That’s where I feel like I land.”

He loves country music because it is a break from the seemingly endless chaos.

“The reason why I love country music is because it’s all about being happy with simplicity,” he said. “Life right now, especially with COVID-19 and politics, has become super complicated. So the best thing I can do right now is sit down and listen to a simple song about mudding and trucks, or about a guitar or about taking a girl out and showing her a good time.”

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LeVar Burton: ‘Jeopardy!’ host gig began ‘scary,’ ended fun – New York Daily News




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Labor-For-Hire Company Struggling to Find Gig Workers Despite Hiking Wages




  • Laborjack said it can’t find enough gig workers to meet soaring demand for its services.
  • The Colorado-based company boosted staff wages but said there’s huge competition for labor.
  • Clients are so desperate for labor that they’re no longer price-sensitive, its founders added.

A labor-for-hire company in Fort Collins, Colorado, says it’s missing out on huge chunks of revenue because it can’t find enough workers to take more jobs on.

Blake Craig and Josh Moser, founders of Laborjack, told Insider that more people had been applying to work at the company during 2021, but that it still wasn’t enough to meet the massive growth in demand for its services.

“Good help is hard to find,” Craig said. “And it’s even harder right now.”

Read more: These 9 food tech startups are capitalizing on the labor crunch with tools that help franchisees hire or automate the restaurant workforce

Laborjack staff doing landscaping work

Laborjack’s staff are mainly college students who do gig jobs in landscaping, moving, and general staffing.


Laborjack hires out labor to help with moving, landscaping, and general staffing — often to individuals who need extra help with projects.

“But right now, the bulk of our business is focused on helping other businesses that can’t get the staffing that they need,” Craig said. This includes delivery, brewing, and construction companies.

Around 80% of its workers are college students or recent graduates. But some of them have full-time jobs and use their gig work at Laborjack to supplement their income. During the pandemic, they’ve been working more hours at their main jobs and don’t need the side income anymore, Craig said.

In June, just over 200 workers completed a shift on Laborjack’s platform – but nearly a fifth of these only did one job.

This US is currently in the midst of a huge labor shortage that’s causing some businesses to cut operating hours, slash production, and raise prices. Joblist CEO Kevin Harrington told Insider that it’s primarily driven by people in entry-level, hourly-paid, and customer-facing jobs.

“Hiring had never been an issue for us until about February of this year,” Laborjack’s Craig said. “There’s a lot of other people going after the same talent that we are – not only new workers but also our existing workforce.”

“There are a lot of people fishing in a small pond,” he added.

The demand for Laborjack’s services roughly tripled over the past year, while the number of job applicants has increased by just a quarter, Craig said.

“We’re still struggling to keep up with the demand that’s coming in for the service we offer,” Moser said. 

This is despite Laborjack rolling out its biggest set of worker perks yet. This includes increasingly average payouts, made up of wages and on-job bonuses, to just over $26 an hour. The company is dishing out $75 hiring and referral bonuses if a new hire completes five jobs, too.

Businesses are ‘on the verge of desperation’

Laborjack has made its services more expensive to cover the higher wages. Moser said its clients had changed their pricing tolerance “drastically” over the past three months and were no longer price-sensitive.

“They just need to get people in the doors because otherwise their business will collapse,” Moser said. “They’re on the verge of desperation.”

Moser said that, for example, the event and trade show industry had rebounded massively with the reopening of the US economy. “They’re chomping at the bit for any amount of workers we can get them.”

Laborjack founders Blake Craig, Josh Moser

Laborjack’s founders say the tight labor market is holding them back.


Laborjack’s June revenue is up around 90% year-over-year, but “we could be growing more if there was more labor on the market,” Moser said. Laborjack is turning down jobs worth up to $2,500 each day and is struggling to balance its B2B and consumer sides, which are “both in full swing,” Moser said.

“Our margin has decreased despite the fact that we’re increasing prices, just because we’re trying to pay out all these bonuses,” Craig added.

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Van Oord wins Baltic Eagle foundations and array cable gig – reNews




Iberdrola has awarded Van Oord a contract for the transportation and installation of monopile foundations and array cables at the 476MW Baltic Eagle offshore wind farm off Germany.

The deals were first revealed in the subscriber-only newsletter reNEWS.

Van Oord will deploy its 8000-tonne heavy lift installation vessel Svanen to install the 50 foundations.

Offshore works for the Baltic Eagle project will start in 2023.

Van Oord’s cable laying vessel Nexus and trencher Dig-It will be deployed for the array cable laying.

Iberdrola country manager for Germany Iris Stempfle said: “Iberdrola is one of the leading developers contributing to the energy transition by investing in offshore wind projects around the globe – in Germany, our Baltic Hub will have an installed capacity of 826MW by the end of 2024.

“Tapping into the expertise of Van Oord yet again makes us confident that Baltic Eagle offshore wind farm will be delivered as planned.”

Van Oord Offshore Wind managing director Arnoud Kuis said: “We are very pleased to be working with Iberdrola again, this time on the Baltic Eagle project in the German Baltic Sea.

“Combining the installation of foundations and the supply and laying of cables will ensure efficient project execution.”

Baltic Eagle is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2024.

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