I’m back from two weeks of touring the West Coast…a truly inspiring experience! I’ve come so far in just a year––this time last year I was on a month-long tour in Germany which was my first foray into being on the road for an extended period of time. I’ve been on tour a number of times since then, and it’s remarkable to realize what a difference it has all made to my musicianship. There are many artistic nuts and bolts one figures out on tour, and having some semblance of a routine about it all makes all the difference for me. Little things and little tweaks, in fact, have big consequences. Mark Twain once wrote, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” The same holds true for music, not only the art of it, but the practice of it. The difference between the almost right approach, and the right approach can be everything and I’ve now learned that in touring, above all else, experience is key. Until I had a solid foundation of knowing how I work best, I was always reeling to some extent. This time I was much more relaxed and more confident than ever before. And as the result of it, I was able to concentrate on the things that matter the most: my music, my performance, and my connection with the audience.
Here’s a special tour anecdote, from my concert at The White Eagle Saloon in Portland. It turned out to be one of my most memorable concert experiences to date. The day before the show I’d been celebrating an important date in my life: the 7th anniversary of my sobriety. I had a celebratory indulgence at what I was told was the best donut-joint in all of Portland: Blue Star Donuts, and savored a delicious ooey gooey chocolate-y sin of a donut––heavenly to the last bite. A nice guy who worked there named Simon offered that if we got him in to the show, he’d bring a box of donuts. We struck the deal, and although I initially took his promise with a grain of salt, lo and behold! He showed up, donuts and all!
Now for the next part of the story: It just so happened that a fan of mine––and now a new friend named Kale––showed up at the gig with unique party favors for me and Blake Morgan, who I was co-headlining with. Kale brought a selection of high-end hunting knives (great for all kinds of survival I’m sure), and urged us each to take our pick. Knives? Really?? At a concert??? Yes, knives. And I did take my pick. It later occurred to me, while on stage, that my new knife could immediately be put to good use. We had donuts, and we had knives. A match made in donut heaven.
We cut the donuts up and passed them through the audience! We all ended up having donuts that night: the whole audience, Blake, and me. Music was played, jokes were shared, and this woman’s sobriety was celebrated among strangers. And those strangers, by the end of the night, felt like old and dear friends to me. If it weren’t for my sobriety, I wouldn’t be here writing this blog right now, or doing any of the other things that I’m doing in my life. This story would never have happened. My sobriety is the foundation that everything in my life is built on. That’s something to celebrate indeed.
Some nights on a tour can be magical, and I had a number of those kind of nights on this tour. In my most recent blog-post––the one I wrote just before going on this trip––I used these words to describe touring: “Illogical. Stressful. Unrealistic. Not normal. Sometimes even crazy.” Sure, those things may all be true, but those are not the words I would use to describe the tour I was just on. These are some of the words that I did use in this post: “Inspiring. Remarkable. Solid. Relaxed. Memorable and even magical.” The difference between the lightning and the lightning bug indeed!