Franklin, NC

Our second stop was Franklin, NC. We spent our first night on the bus and I surprisingly slept really well! Each of our bunks have a DVD player and a really comfy pillow and blanket.

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I headed to bed fairly early since I had to be up to get the driver a room in the morning – he is only allowed to drive 10 hours before he has to stop and rest. He made a few stops in the night, making him about 1 hour behind schedule – but we definitely had the time.

I woke up a few hours before we were due to arrive and rolled up the windows to view the gorgeous misty mountains from Virginia to North Carolina.

Calling the hotel, they didn’t have the room ready and didn’t think they would. But persistence is key. I called an hour before arrival and called when we got there – boom, a room is open. Telling them that the driver just traveled 10 hours might have helped. 🙂

Getting everyone else checked in was a process and didn’t go smoothly, and i didn’t get the last person in before it was time to load in. Fortunately, the venue had a shower so he was able to clean up, but lesson learned, CALL HOTELS AHEAD OF TIME. Once I was able to check in, I sat down and called everyone to tell them we’re arriving early or we’re arriving late, just to give them a heads up.

After loading in, soundcheck started and took a bit more time, so it was good that we arrived early. Being the beginning of the tour, the band has more patience, the sound is still being figured out and these things take more time.

While they were dealing with that, I started to set up merchandise with the presenter. Our shirts were shipped directly to the venue, so I was worried that they might not be just right..but they look great!!

I was worried because when I got to the first venue, we ordered mugs and the logo on the mug came in the completely wrong color…it was blue on blue, making it impossible to see! A huge bummer, but in the big picture, worse things could have happened.

The evening went really well – the band killed the show, the audience loved it. One woman came up to me after the show to buy a CD and told me that she’s been to the venue 5-6 times, and this was her favorite and in her opinion, the best show she’s seen there. What a compliment!!

Right now, I’m eating waffles and stealing some bagels for lunch from our complimentary breakfast…off to write some more and spend our day off traveling to Atlanta!

Thanks for reading,

Fiona

Day 2 – 3 – 4…wow.

It’s going by so fast!

Things are moving along quickly with lots of catching up, rehearsals, final plans, meetings – it’s been difficult to keep up with this blog. So first, my apologies. I know now why tour managers tend to take a few days to answer back. Because waking up at 8AM and working till 12:30AM, and having a hotel neighbor talk all night until 4AM, you tend to pick sleep during your free time. 🙂 

On Tuesday, the band set up for a 12-hour rehearsal in a room at the venue. Our opening night is held at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA – have you been there? It’s absolutely breathtaking. I definitely want to plan a weekend here in the near future. It’s about 2 hours away from Manhattan. Pictures of the place below!

Soundcheck^

Our first ‘bump in the road’ was an issue with the instrument! Our bassist rented a fold up bass, making it easy to transport on the train and plane, but being the first time this bassist is using it, you have to expect something to go wrong.

So, the bass neck comes completely off, strings come off, bridge comes off…it’s quite a spectacle! You can imagine that tuning and set up time is doubled for our bassist, but that wasn’t the only issue coming up.

About 20 seconds into the first song, the bridge comes flying off of the bass! Immediately we all sank and eyes got wide. Is it defective? Is it broken? Are we going to have to get a regular bass? Are we going to have to ship this back?

We all are wondering! But, the bassist calmly picked everything up and said, “No, this should be fine.” He took a second stab at setting it up, had both me and the sound engineer make sure the bridge was straight, and stuck it out! And so did the bass – no more bumps in the road on that one! Whew!

Lessons learned:

1. If you are using a new instrument (or form of instrument), if you can, try it out before the big day. In this case, we had a rehearsal, but imagine if the first set up was on stage and that happened! Be prepared!

Kennett Square, PA

Day 1:

Half of us took the train from New York Penn on Amtrak, while the other half flew in from Chicago, Nashville and Austin! Already loving how touring brings folks together.

Taking the Amtrak is always, well…thrilling. For a Monday afternoon, it was fairly crowded at New York Penn station. Thanksgiving travel, I assumed. One tip I did learn after boarding that plane is when making reservations, is make them separate so you get separate tickets. When they announce the gate number, a herd of people with luggage just crams into the escalator door, making it hard for the 4 of us to go through together. I had to stand back and wait for everyone to get through and tell the impatient ticket man that these 3 guys are with me as they walked through.

I am with musicians who travel and tour for a living, so they knew to go right to the end of our coach class cart so we could find seats and luggage space easily. Done!

The ride was very easy and once we arrived at the train station, the driver was there to greet us. With one SUV for our 6 bags of LARGE luggage, it reminded ME to remind presenters that we are traveling with a lot of luggage and they need to prepare for that.

Once we all checked into the hotel, I planned a little welcome dinner for everyone to meet and catch up, and it was really fun for me to hear their conversations of past gigs, past collaborations, current state of the industry, current opinions of the industry…all of it. Something about being immersed around people who are really ‘doing it’ feels great to be a part of.

First day had some bumps, but nothing that can’t be handled. What I learned from the day:

1. Print out tickets for each person on the trip – take into consideration folks being late and getting lost in lines.

2. Don’t go for the first door on the train, walk down to the end to find a decent seat with luggage space.

3. Tell presenters you will need a large vehicle for transport – with musicians on the road for 3 weeks, that’s a lot of luggage.

4. If there’s time, plan a little meet/greet/catch up event, whether it’s a quick bite at a bar or a relaxed dinner. You are going to be on the road for weeks with these guys, make the effort to get to know each other! And also, hear some juicy stories.

Thanksgiving and Tour Annoucement

I was lucky enough to have 2 Thanksgiving celebrations with friends (my nephew responded with a “no FAIR!” over the phone) and it was days of red cabbage (my favorite side dish), pumpkin pie and of course a few games of Apples to Apples (get this game now if you don’t have it!)

While most might be relaxing and winding down the year, I, on the other hand, am planning a nationwide, 12-city tour for 6 musicians that starts December 2! Whew! Sounds easy, right?

I’m not only planning and coordinating the appearances, I’m also coming along for the ride. For the month of December, I’ll be on a large sleeper tour bus with 6 musicians and a sound engineer to tackle the “road life”. I’m going to learn first hand what it’s like to be a traveling musician and I certainly can’t wait to handle the inevitable hurdles and things that WILL go wrong.

So, to honor this new journey, I’ll be ‘live-blogging’ throughout the weeks with photos and stories! You are going to hear about the good AND the bad (no shame here), because it’s a learning experience. We all deserve to know what really happens on the road!

Let’s get this party started.

Packing.

So, what exactly DO you pack for 17 days on the road?