What are your tips for touring musicians?
Touring… The final frontier. The only frontier. You know how you can turn the lights off in a room and for the first couple seconds of walking around you can remember where everything is and how to navigate. Then, after about 60 seconds, you slowly start to loose orientation and your memory becomes a little foggy. Then you just put your hands out and move your feet slow as to find your way. Finally, you hit into something and then it triggers your memory into where you might be. You just keep going and slowly the room reveals itself to you. That is the closest comparison I have ever had to life on the road. You can loose your sense of center and you completely become submersed in the moment and that is the guiding direction. It can be scary, but after a while you can get the hang of it. It can be frustrating when you are working hard to develop you career and others want to know how you are doing. But the truth is if you are still touring and performing you are still making it all work for you. It is just that simple.
Touring is now and always has been the only way for an artist to be able to commit themselves to their work and survive – financially and emotionally. The road teaches you so much about life from interactions with people to learning to live with the absolute minimum. Life on the road is the greatest teacher of them all. So finish up those songs, pack up your bags, and get ready for life on tour. Here are some of my insights into life on the road in 2016 – many things have changed over the last 7 years of touring from the way listeners discover music to what role music plays in the life of the listeners. Here are my top tips for keeping your sanity and also growing up on the road.
Shock and awe. From politics to sports it seems we have migrated to the most basic human emotions for entertainment. Translation: your work has to stand on it’s own in a world where there has never been so much competition. This is not a “new” revelation for most I would hope, but it is very evident on the road. People can be at your concert and being watching a viral youtube video of some other artist that was just recently released. You have to keep your fans entertained but also engaged. From lighting, visuals, style, every single aspect of your performance counts. For us, when we tour as a duo I find myself writing a lot on the road especially after a show. The reason being is that when I am on stage I have a clear idea of what I would want to play for people – what makes our fans engaged. Then when I step off the stage it is time to take that clear vision and put music to it. Which brings me to my next point.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Some of my favorite recordings of all time are Bob Dylan’s Witmark demos. This was some of Dylan’s earliest work and you can hear him trying different styles in the studio. This continued throughout Dylan’s career until he really settled into this sound. Experimenting in this day and age really allows you to see what is resonating with your fans and potential fans. Growing and developing your sound is key to thriving on the road. People want to hear the difference the next time they see you – they want to hear development in you as an artist but also as you as a writer.
What’s it been like touring?
We are on a Unity Tour in a time in the world’s history where Brexit has more steam than unity. We are approaching a time where we are led to believe that we are more divided and vocal than ever. The Unity Car itself is a way to push back. We have created a small subculture of wonderful people that we have met night to night, state to state, and coast to coast. So many amazing ideas, opinions, and world views are encapsulated in this country of ours. Although it seems right now that all the wrong ideas float to the top – there are so many lovely people with incredible ideas that our culture has nourished. From authors and photographers traveling the country far and wide in search of insights into peace and unity – to the peace movements that are going on in the subculture right now.
One way I really enjoy the Unity Car is that it is physically impossible to have road rage in a car that is literally covered in messages about hope and unity. We will be sitting in traffic in eastern Tennessee and someone will roll down their window and simply engage us about unity and peace. We are driving a car that comes in contact with thousands of people everyday that encourages conversations about peace and enacting social change? You can be driving and see someone pointing at the car and the wheels begin to turn, figuratively, in their heads. From there it is the universe that will take the lead – conversations will be had, new realizations will be made, and lives will be altered.
We truly are more united than we are divided. The shows have been incredible out on this tour. From first time listeners to engaging long time fans, this record and tour has connected us more than ever before with our followers – literally.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at The Bergamot’s Unity Tour: