In this Tour Tips segment, the folk duo, Jim and Sam, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
Things you CAN do when you can’t be on the road AND things that make us feel like we’re on the road when we CAN’T be.
1. Drive to Chipotle, order the food, drive somewhere in nature, eat Chipotle. We’ve been eating in the trunk of our car a lot to give us that road feeling. It’s weird how much it works every time. Also, it doesn’t have to be Chipotle… but it’s nice to recreate the magical on-tour feeling of stumbling upon a highway-side Chipotle after hours and days of gas station sandwiches and fast food.
2. Pick somewhere deserted and beautiful, bring a microphone and your instrument, set up a camera (it can be your cell phone) and sing a song. Although you’re not playing to an audience, there’s something about playing in front of an incredible landscape that makes us feel like we’re on tour. We often did this on our 365-day tour. Instead of taking a hike, we would make a quick music video on the side of the road whenever we saw a view we really wanted to take in.
3. Do a virtual performance where you can actually see and interact with the audience. I think the hardest part right now about not touring is not being able to connect with your audience. This will never fully compare to an in-person show but being able to see your audience, even if it’s through a computer screen will force you to be more in the moment and engage with them and the music more personally.
4. Play for your neighbors, your barista, the people on the beach, anywhere that you’re allowed to be at the moment. During our 365-day tour, we did countless shows called “pop-ins.” We would randomly show up somewhere… ask if we could sing a song… and a show was born. These were the most rewarding moments of the tour and a few of our favorite memories ever performing. We highly encourage this…and right now…. everyone could use a little music. Just wear a mask…and keep it small and intimate. It’s better that way (not the mask part, but you know what we mean).
5. Cook a meal that feels like something you’d eat backstage before a show. When touring in Europe, it’s common that the venue serves you an incredible home-cooked meal before the show. In Sweden, this was often soup… very good soup that made us instantly feel at home. Now we make soups to make us feel like we’re back on the road.
6. Surrender to the fact that usually, you’re not home this much. This is the first time we’ve been home consistently in 5 years. We built a room within a room to create a studio, we’ve been trying to get rid of stuff… so much stuff. We’re trying to create systems so next time we leave we don’t feel insane about the mess we left behind. We also pushed our couch in a way that makes our living room really nice to watch movies in. We always have guests at our place when we’re gone… so the house was always set up for someone else. It’s nice to feel like it’s ours for a little while.
7. Write the songs you can’t write when you’re on the road.
8 . Record the songs you can’t record when you’re on tour and in a bus with way too many people. Or revisit that song idea you started in the stairwell of the Laquinta Inn near the Kansas City Airport.
9. Collaborate with other artists. Before long we will all be back on the road and blinded by whatever road we are on. Use this time to connect with other artists. Write a song. Record. Commiserate. Be there for each other. It’s a weird time for all of us.
10. Call your family. Call the friends that you haven’t talked to enough… because you know you’re bad about that when you’re on tour… and you’re probably not great about this when you’re home from tour either. Be better about giving gifts this year and remembering birthdays… because usually you’re on tour and you forget–and you always feel like a selfish chump when that happens.
11. Try and remember this isn’t forever. Be thankful for all the touring you’ve gotten to do in the past…. and think about how amazing it’s going to feel when you finally get to be back out there.
We’ll see you eventually somewhere in the parking lot of a Chipotle when we’re both on the way to soundcheck.
-Jim and Sam