Reflections on a year spent touring part 2
If you're reading this it's likely we met somewhere along the way. Thanks for being a part of my life whether we've known each other since the cradle or we met after a show and you said something kind like, "I bet you're tired. Do you need a couch to sleep on tonight? How about some soup. It's vegan." Thank you for playing your part.
Traveling around the country playing songs isn't glamorous. I do it because I love it and when it works the joy is resplendent. A lot of the time it's a really grueling job. "You don't work you don't eat" holds true just as much in music as it does anywhere else so I press on.
It's difficult to explain to people who haven't spent significant time on the road what it's like. On an average day I wake up around 9 and eat an apple and some peanut butter. I head to a coffee shop and do computer work there (mostly booking) for 5-10 hours. Less hours on show days. If I have a concert that night then I'l drive to the show, eat some food along the way that I make in the car, maybe pita chips and a jar of salsa. Depending on when I arrive I'll go to a movie first, then load in and play the show. The next day is the same but it's in a different place. On days when there isn't a show I'll work until the coffee shop closes or until I'm too hungry to focus then go see a movie. It's very regimented. Very math. Every day I'm doing the same things but every day is a different location and different people. The movement becomes tangible. When I'm off the road I notice its absence.
I imagine it's similar to a person who spends a lot of time at sea. It's like being deprived of a nutrient and always feeling not quite right. The routine of work combines with the transience of touring and creates something new. Most folks feel a sense of community and peacefulness in a particular location. The more I travel the more I feel at home moving. I have pockets of friends around the country I've grown accustomed to seeing every couple months and it throws me off when I don't see them for long stretches.
In my road warped brain Austin, Tulsa, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Orlando are neighbors. I've left Nebraska and woken up in Florida two days later then played a show in Texas in less than a week. For a while I was surprised when someone from New Orleans had never been to Houston or someone from Pittsburgh didn't know what Cincinnati looks like. I got over that. Americans don't travel. Not much.
Stillness is my enemy. Not literal stillness. The absence of movement from place to place. I find it incredibly difficult to even type this post having been in Brooklyn for two weeks, which would be very easy to do if I was at a Starbucks off of Interstate 4 in Florida. This has lead me to wonder if everyone who loves what they do finds it difficult to balance the part of life people call "living" and digging into the work that they enjoy. I see it as a gift that I get to define my time and space by literally driving to a new location. I don't have to make excuses or apologize for not coming to birthdays and parties. I'm not there. It's interesting. It changes the way I interact with people.
The best advice I got from anyone was from a guy I met in Tulsa who I really like. He toured for years with a metal band. 300 dates a year. Now he has kids and is off the road. "Do it for as long as you possibly can," he said. I asked, "Do you miss it?" He replied without taking a breath, "Every fucking day."