It’s the best time of the year at McNally Smith College of Music. Fresh faces have been buzzing about campus all week as hundreds of new students embark on promising academic careers. The incoming freshman class have matriculated from all over the globe to pursue dreams of achieving fruitful and fulfilling lives in music, and each individual arrives with a wonderfully unique backstory. In fact, one new student is even riding a wave of national press coverage, thanks to his keen entrepreneurial skills.
18-year-old South Dakota native Even Jensen, a new Composition and Songwriting major at McNally Smith, is thinking big in terms of paying for his tuition. Upon graduating high school in the spring, he and his older brother Justin made the nine-hour trek from their family’s farm (30 miles west of Brookings, South Dakota) to the overrun oil haven of Williston, North Dakota, in search of summer work. Upon arrival, Jensen saw that the reports of extreme overpopulation were indeed true—thousands of workers were living out hotels and even cars and “man camps” in hopes of striking it rich. It didn’t take long for the light bulb to go off.
“While we were there we were getting pretty smelly,” Jensen told CNN. “[We thought] ‘Man, you can’t get a shower anywhere.’ So that’s where [the idea] really sparked.”
“The idea” in question is a 53-foot semi trailer that Jensen—with the help of family and friends—converted into a portable five-stall shower that displaced workers could use to cleanse themselves after a hard day’s work (a 6,000-gallon semi tanker near the trailer provides freshwater while also collecting greywater). Jensen christened his enterprise “Better Showers,” and set up shop in June at an RV campground in the heart of the Bakken Oil Patch. According to CNN: “A shower costs $10, with a half-price discount for residents of the RV park where the business is located. Towels and washcloths are $1 extra. The water pressure is strong, the soap is free and there is no time limit.”
Business boomed for Jensen over the summer months. Most days, more than two dozen people stopped by for a clean up, resulting in several thousands of dollars in the aspiring musician/songwriter’s pocket. But with McNally Smith’s fall semester now underway, Jensen is looking to sell the business. He recently put Better Showers up for sale on Craigslist, asking for $95,000. So far he’s had a few inquiries, but there has been no announcement of an official sale just yet.
McNally Smith President Harry Chalmiers applauds Jensen’s entrepreneurial mindset, noting that it will serve him well in the music industry. “You’ve got to be prepared to think outside the box and be creative and innovative,” Chalmiers told the Associated Press when discussing Jensen’s inspiring story. “That’s always been true for musicians and in the economy today, it’s true for more and more people.”
Jensen has been playing the drums since the age of seven, and he has played guitar and written songs for almost as long. He has already composed multiple drum cadences for marching bands. Jensen admires the drumming of Rush’s Neil Peart as well as the songwriting of Andy McKee and Sufjan Stevens, among others.
“I just love creating music. It’s a blast, I could do it forever,” Jensen told CNN, adding that he’s pursuing a degree in Composition and Songwriting because performing his own material isn’t necessarily his end goal. “I’d rather make somebody a rock star that has better vocal talent than I do.”
Newer: McNally Smith Presents Dissonance: A Concert/Conversation Focusing On Mental Health
Older: McNally Smith Announces 2012-13 Sound Bite Series Line-Up