Touring is a unique creative exercise. It requires an immense amount of practical thinking, problem-solving, and taking care of logistical stuff, all of which I sure as hell never signed up for. Calculating the measurements of the trunk of a rental car was not what I had in mind when I dreamed of being an artist as a little girl. But you have to fit the guitars and the amps and the keyboard and the luggage into the car (the one that you can afford, that is…), don’t you? Otherwise you’re fucked, right? The reality of this work turns out to be a little less glamorous than advertised. But do I enjoy it? Hell yes I do.
It’s all of the little things that go wrong on a tour that will end up making you feel like you’re being nibbled to death by ducks. That’s why you have to try to think of every possible scenario in advance, so as not to be left in the lurch. Blake Morgan, the artist that I’m about to embark on my West Coast tour with next week, jokingly suggested that we call it our Thousand Ways To Die Tour. Yeah, but in a lot of ways he wasn’t joking. We had our experience in February, touring as a team in Germany, which we kicked off by blowing up an amp at our very first show. That’s the kind of shit that can and will happen, even when you plan as well as you possibly can. But like Matt Damon in The Martian, Blake and I have learned to “work the problem” together, and there’s no one I would rather team up with on a trip like this. Trust me, he’d find a way to grow potatoes in poop on Mars. That’s the kind of partner you want on a tour.
The Germany-tour earlier this year was the beginning of something new for me. Performing 20 concerts in 23 days was challenging to put it mildly, but I did prove to myself that I can do it, and that I can even excel at it! The growth I experienced in my musicianship alone was enough to make the run worthwhile, but beyond that I feel like I became an adult on that trip. That experience is what fuels my excitement and eagerness to get out there again next week, and to get everything I can out of it. I know it’ll be hard. I know that. But it’s the only way to be the artist I want to be.
So, here’s my conclusion: the challenge of touring is trying to manage the moving parts so that they don’t interfere with the art. I want to make sure that I give myself the best possible chance to do what I go out there to do (and I paraphrase Aaron Sorkin): “to compel my audience for as long as I’ve asked for their attention.” So, with that in mind I’m setting up my guitar, amp, pedalboard, and a fake microphone in the middle of my living room…and I’m rehearsing.