Touring: more than just the music
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 17:09
This summer, I drove my mother’s Honda minivan up the East Coast and through the Midwest for four weeks. My duffel bag became my closet, PB&J sandwiches were my staple and the only consistency in my schedule was the 45-minute set I played in bars every night.
Those Loyola bands who’ve decided to embark on a tour know the lifestyle well. It’s exhausting, even brutal at points (four hours of sleep, five-hour drive the next day?) Yet as a musician, there are few experiences more rewarding.
Some nights, you play for tips. And sometimes, you play to only a small handful of people. But when you hit your stride, when you’re playing back-to-back shows and witnessing how much tighter each set becomes, none of it matters. And when suddenly you’re playing to a packed basement in Philadelphia instead of some empty North Carolina bar — well, it’s worth it.
The tour took months of preparation, seeing as we do our own booking and chose to stay with as many friends and family as we could. We had a list of these unfamiliar addresses, venues and homes alike, and every day we punched them into the GPS. New cities, constantly: Atlanta, Washington D.C., Brooklyn, Chicago, St. Louis and Austin.
Twenty-three stops in all, with an occasional ‘down day’ in-between shows. For twenty-three nights this summer, I experienced that out-of-body surrealness of being a part of something greater than myself, an unexplainable feeling that performers of any kind can understand. I stood on a stage with four other talented friends and we played our music.
Community is valuable. You can’t head out on tour with enemies at your side, even if together you make the most beautiful of sounds. To travel in a small, close-knit group teaches patience, humility and selflessness. We all know each other way too well now, but our band is better for it.
What I recommend to my fellow musicians is this: go on tour. Take your music on the road. If you already have, do it again. The fans you make, the bands you play alongside and the strangers you connect with will make a greater musician out of you. And, at least for me, experiencing the music scenes in other cities made me appreciate what we’ve got going on in New Orleans. Sorry, other-cities-all-across-the-US, but I think we’ve got you beat.
Cherie LeJeune is a vocalist and guitarist in The Wooden Wings. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org