Kevin Ulrich (@ulrichtk), bartender at Sweaty Betty's, knife collector and all around awesome guy.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Bowmanville Ontario, a small town about 15 minutes outside of Oshawa. It was like most small towns, pretty boring. We smoked lots of pot, went to bush parties and drank dangerous amounts of booze. It did have this cool little music scene, people would host music festivals on their property and the kids would camp out and party on the weekends. So, that was pretty fun and it kept us outta trouble. I'm sure there are worse places to grow up.
Describe your outlook on life in 5 words.
Don't take yourself too seriously!
How did you become a bartender?
I just sort of fell into it. It started out by helping a friend out who needed an extra set of hands at a nightclub. Stayed there for too long, the club scene didn't jive too well with me. I needed a change of pace and an opportunity came up and I took it. I really can't think of a bar more opposite to a nightclub than Sweaty Betty's, it's so unpretentious and that's important to me.
What's your favourite part about being a bartender?
A bar like Sweaty Betty’s is a hub for locals and I see a lot of the same faces. I like that I can forge these relationships with different people. It's nice to get to watch and be a part of so many different lives. It's really mind blowing to me. And, it's just fun! In what other job can you have a beer with friends?
What I really like about Sweaty's is that it hasn't really changed. The neighbourhood around it is changing and so is the clientele but we're still a dirty little dive bar that plays Rock n Roll and metal, and well, except for that one Friday every month that we play dance music, but Fridays are almost always busy so, I'm not sure if it's the dance music or just because it wold be busy anyways! Haha! But overall, Sweaty's is a cool place, and I love working there and it's nice to have the freedom to do all the other things I want to do.
Is having freedom in your job important to you?
Freedom is very important to me. I've never felt tied down to my job and that's great. My partner and I try to get out and travel a few times a year and it's nice to know that I can and still come back to a job!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen while working in a bar?
Oh man, I see a lot of weird stuff, like about a month ago, it was right at the end of the night and this regular, who'd probably drank about 12 of those big cans of Sapporo decided that he just HAD do 'The Worm,' you know, that break dancing move? So, he gets on the dirty ass floor, and starts wriggling around and worms across the floor, it wasn't even good! I was just standing there, waiting for him to crack his head on something! Too funny, so, if you ever have the chance to watch a drunk guy do the worm, I highly suggest it! This other time, we used to have this rich guy coming in a couple times a week and he'd cover the entire bars tab while he was there, it was insane. He'd rack up these massive bills like it was nothing. I"m pretty sure he was messed up on some recreational drugs and for the most part he was totally out of control. Eventually, I had to ban him for getting in a fistfight with my door guy.
How did you start collecting knives? How many do you own?
It started when I got my first pocketknife when I was 10. My dad gave it to me for a camping trip we were going on and I’ve had a knife in my pocket since! At this point, I think I have about 30 knives. I mostly collect custom made fixed blades.
Which one is most valuable to you?
My buck hunting knife that my dad gave me as a gift a few Christmases ago. Almost all of my knives, aside from a few, I've bought for myself. That one means the most to me simply because it was a thoughtful gift from my Pa! He knows I collect them and thought enough to get it for me. It's not the most expensive or rare knife in my collection, but it's one I'll keep and use for a long time.
Do you have any hobbies?
I do some woodcarving and whittle a lot. It sounds weird but I carve a lot of spoons and bowls. There is just something so satisfying about taking a dead lump of something you found on the ground and slowly watching it become something useful. There’s got to be some kind of primitive mental connection there - it's meditative.
Tell me about your vinyl collection.
Recently I've gotten into collecting 7-inch singles. They're these neat little slices of a larger story and I like to think about who owned them before me and what else they may have had. What kind of stories were they putting together with their collection, it's pretty cool to think about. I pay a lot of vinyl at work, mostly 60's garage, garage revival stuff from the 90's and rock n roll, three chords, that's the key.
What song most represents you or your outlook on life?
'I got a knife' by Turbonegro, haha, because I always have a knife in my pocket, always!
What will you be doing in five years?
Who knows? Bar tending, traveling with my gal, hopefully having fun! I would love to buy a place in Joshua Tree and fix it up, might not be in five years but something I want to do.
Roam Free, Stay Wild.
Comments will be approved before showing up.