It’s been 10 days being out on the road and all I can say is about as cliche as it gets.
I’m learning a lot. Every day I’m learning something new.
Most of it has to do with how to make touring sustainable and profitable. For my first tour on my own, I think I’ve done a pretty damn good job keeping travel to a minimum while maximizing shows in an area. Without accounting for CD sales and tips we should be breaking even….at least on paper. My fingers are crossed that nothing drastic happens to us or the car. If all goes well it looks like we should be making enough at the end of this tour to celebrate with a bottle of Andre Brut!
At the end of the day, this tour isn’t about making money. I realize how naive and dumb that sounds. This is how I am trying to make a living. Yes. However, this is low stakes, low money, high experience. I want to get good at this. I want to be efficient. I want to play as much as god damn possible! To book the tour is the easy part. Actually spending all these hours on the road driving, eating salami sandwiches, sleeping outside every night to save on lodging costs, getting to and from National Parks where the camping is cheapest (with a national parks pass) to the gigs, and having the energy to play for 2-4 hours has been tough! But so much fun!
I still can’t imagine doing anything else. This is truly the life. In the last week I have woken up to the sound of the Pacific ocean crashing on rocks, the sound of barn owls hooting and horses whinnying, and gone to sleep with crickets and frogs singing us into the comfort of our dreams. If I had no debts to pay I would live my life on the edge of even and be happy.
And even more still, the truth about the road is that you meet amazing people along the way anywhere and everywhere you go. In Albany, OR I met a man named Rex Baker who has been incredible. He has helped me pick up a couple of extra gigs in Portland and has been trying to help find us a place to crash. I am so grateful to have met him and grateful to all those who are willing to help a touring musician out. Or any musician for that matter. I realize that I am booking shows in cities and at venues that have music because the people appreciate live music.. But it just feels like everyone out here in Oregon and Washington love music and supporting the people who make it and the arts in general… Maybe it’s cause pot is so abundant out here. I’m not a scientist. Just an observer with a pen… ink and vape.
We found ourselves in Bend, OR a day earlier than expected. After getting deterred by the rain in Willamette National Forest we sprung for an Air BnB to pass the night. Our host had an incredible house in between two rivers. Yes. In between. 30 feet from the front door and 70 feet beyond the fire pit in the backyard rivers flowed crisp and beautifully pristine. After a week of camping in the rain it was a much welcomed reprieve and luxury to fall asleep listening to a river flow from a cloud soft bed. Our host, Bud, was himself a musician. One who also found himself finding his voice later in his life after being told, and believing himself to not have a good enough voice to sing. Now in his 60s he has been rocking out in a band for the last 5 years and sounds great! It was great to talk to him about music and performing.
While in Bend with a few days off from shows I went and checked out two open mics. The first at a small coffee shop where I met a local record producer named Scott. His studio is called Parkway Sounds and they’re making some very cool sounds over there. Definitely gonna be contacting him next time I’m in town. (http://parkwaysounds.com)
The following day we met up with our friend Lukas from back in Fort Collins. He moved out to Bend about 2 years ago and works at a new-ish hotel in Bend called McMennamin’s Old St. Francis Hotel. It is an amazing work of art in itself and we are so grateful to Lukas for getting us a room. If you ever find yourself in Bend, OR do yourself a favor and get a room there and look for the blue lights and the Broom Closet… you’ll know what I mean when you get there. (https://www.mcmenamins.com/old-st-francis-school )
That night I took a chance and went out to an open mic at a place called The Lot. It’s like a communal space for food trucks and beer. It’s covered but has the ability to open some garage doors and they have fire pits. It’s essentially the coolest place ever. The open mic list was pretty sparse so the host Jeshua let me play for pretty much as long as I wanted. I did a half an hour or so before other musicians showed up and I handed over the reigns. I wound up talking to an artist from Durango, CO named Marty. His medium was oil paintings. He showed me some on his phone and they were truly amazing. He claimed to have had his work in the Guggenheim at one point. I can’t find him online as he didn’t give me his last name so this is neither confirmed nor denied but I believe him. He bought me a beer in exchange for a CD and told me to go to The Wild Horse Saloon in Durango and drop his name and they would serve me beer all night long…So here I come Durango!
On top of meeting Marty I met Andy Best. Andy is an esteemed photographer who has contributed to Nat Geo and Roam and has his own production company. His films are about sharing the beauty of our earth and inspiring people to leave a better trace. I’m not joking when I say his work is. fucking. amazing. Seriously. He gave me some invaluable advice that left me more inspired to take on and save the world than 3 cups of coffee ever could. His work is truly important and beautiful. I think the best way for people to start caring more about our impact on the planet is to see the beauty that we are destroying. Whether it’s with your own eyes or through a computer screen, seeing is believing. And Andy is doing the good work of bringing the planet and our collective story to people. Please check out his work here (http://andy.best/ecu )
Once again, the road is teaching me to believe in people. There is kindness and beauty everywhere. I am eternally humbled to have met all these people through happenstance and good fortune.
The road continues to teach me that the curve never ends. The curve may block you from seeing what is ahead but there are always people willing to help you figure out how to turn the wheel.
I have a lot of paying it forward to do.