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Touring life!

An interesting insight of beeing in a touring band. This one’s from a drummers perspective. The story is taken from reddit. com , the author is unknown as far as I know. All of you who know what is like to tour, will find connections with this  story. Blood, sweat, blisters…Enjoy the read!

”I just wanted to write a short thing about my years on the road. This is to share in what fellow drummers have suffered and triumphed through, and to give an insight to what it’s like for someone who’s never toured with a band before.You’re ready. The CD’s been recorded. The 6 hours a day you spent perfecting every beat and rhythm to carry the pulse for the guitars. The sweat dripping down your face when you call it a day. The blood dripping from your blisters from your overworked fingers. Calloused up palms are inflamed and bright red.

It’s time now. You’ve spent the past four months working as many hours as you possibly could to pay the rent for the month and a half you’ll be gone. For the gas to go in the van. For the van’s insurance payment, and the last payment on the van itself.You try to get some shuteye, but all you can think about it how well tomorrow night will go. After hours of playing with your mind, you fall asleep.It isn’t enough.You wake up much earlier than you wanted to and haul yourself for one last run through over the songs before you pack everything up and head to the van at the storage center. Your blisters have partially healed, thanks to the superglue you used to keep them shut. After a couple of hours, you’re satisfied. Everything’s to your liking.You spend the next hour breaking your kit down and making phone calls you need to make before you leave town. Mom, dad, sis, best friends, girlfriend, pastor, everyone. They all know the years of sacrifices you’ve made to get to this point. The thousands of dollars you’ve invested, the sleep you’ve lost wondering if it’s worth it, being there for your bandmates in the bad times, and rejoicing with them in the good times. The literal blood, sweat, and burning tears that have formed the foundation of your life.

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It’s time. You drive out to the van, and your guys are all there. Vocalist, guitarists, bassist, merch guy, and you. Your best friends out of the 7.3 billion human beings on the planet. The ones that know you through and through, and know you better than you know yourself. Another two hours is spent checking inventory. Sticks, picks, strings, guitars, backup guitars, bass, backup bass, heads, electronics, cabs, drumheads, pedals, stands, every bit of it is checked off. Merch count is done.It’s loaded up. The trailer’s full after two semi-pulled backs and an overstretched ligament. But it’s nothing ibuprofen can’t fix.You’re off. The bunks are occupied. Captain and copilot have the wheel for the next seven hours. You retire to your bunk built from a 3/4’ths single mattress and wood bought from home depot, and you settle in.Check your bag. Realize you forgot half the stuff you needed three hours later. Spend $40 at a Love’s or Sheetz to make sure you don’t offend the nasal passages of everyone else in the van.Luckily, you have your essentials. Macbook. Ipod. Phone. Debit Card. 80 gigs worth of pirated movies, tv shows, and games. Phone charger and macbook charger. IPOD charger. Isolation earbuds. And that nifty little curtain you installed around your bunk to keep the light out.You miss the town you just left. Familiar faces and good friends. You miss her.You drift off dreaming of your own bed, and a hot meal.You awaken hours later(it feels like 20 minutes) as you feel the big door slide open. You poke your head out for a second to see where you are. It’s the venue. Time to load in.After a few more sore muscles, the gear is loaded in, and soundcheck is done. You’re playing fifth tonight, which gives you a few more hours to doze off.

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You happily retreat back to the bunk. You fall asleep for an hour and wake back up. The van isn’t running, and the a/c isn’t running. You’re baking. It’s dead summer too.You flip the electronics on for a second to roll down all the windows. The breeze flies through the van, cooling you in your damp tank top and shorts.This moment, this blissful moment when you’re finally allowed to sleep well. It won’t last.Your vocalist shakes you awake a couple hours later. It’s time.You grab a fresh pair of sticks from your bag and walk inside. The crowd is big. Bigger than usual. They’re chanting the band’s name. The stage darkens are you all get ready.You settle on your throne, doing final stretches as the intro sample kicks in.Click click click click goes the click track in your ear.Here we go.It’s 40 minutes of non stop movement and aggressive playing. You’re going crazy, the crowd’s going crazy, and your guys are going crazy. It’s nuts. The kids know the new song, and you can hear them over your vocalist.Two weeks later, the process is still being repeated. You’ve watched all 80 gigs of the movies and tv shows you downloaded. The games have lost their allure.Sleep is scarce now, and your health is fading. The taco bell from yesterday made you puke at the truck stop. You stopped to look at yourself in the giant plate glass window.You hadn’t showered for days. Your hair is matted and clingy, and seems to grow in patches. You can’t afford the pay showers at Love’s. You can barely afford to put in your share of the gas money, let alone feed yourself. You can’t afford to eat healthily. Soda is cheaper than water, and two day old gas station burgers are 50 cents apiece. You have no choice if you want to have money when you get home.By this time, hygiene products and clothing are disappearing. Blame is shifted around the van, and it most of the time has just been misplaced or left at a venue. You spend more on keeping yourself presentable than keeping yourself fed.

People are getting fed up with each other from time to time. It’s cramped, and it’s hot at night. You can’t afford to bust the gas to let the van sit idle all night. You find a walmart parking lot, roll down the windows, and open the sliding door to let the breeze in.Some nights there’s a breeze to lower the temp in the van to a respectable 70 degrees. Some nights there’s not.Everyone smells now. BO and terrible food smells permeate the air in the van. Nothing can be done. Laundry hasn’t been done, and no one has clean clothes at this point.Some mornings you wake up, and you’re caked in sweat and grime. You stumble out of bed and wander into the walmart with your laptop, intent on skyping people back home by piggybacking off of any unsecured wifi.It helps. Mom and Dad say hi and wish you well. So does sis. You’re three hours behind them, and the sun is still coming up. Twilight outside, which casts a weird color inside the van.

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Three days later, you have a shower. The water is lukewarm, and it lasts for thirty seconds before the back door bursts open and you have to run. You didn’t strip completely bare.Only this wasn’t a shower. You used a hose behind a KFC to wash your hair and get the grime off your body.You didn’t manage to get all the soap out of your hair. You take the hose behind the Hardee’s to finish the job.You can’t wait to be home and be clean. To have a hot shower, eat food that doesn’t come from a drive thru or a chip bag or soda can, and to see her.

The drives are long, and your straw gets pulled. A lot. The longest was seven hours for you. That one was bad. You almost ran off the road four times, and you had to replace a flat tire. No bueno. The drives are worse than having to endure the heat.Your body has deep aches. Your arms constantly feel like you just hit the weights for an hour straight. The blisters are extremely painful. The callouses are constantly red and tender.Kids have been telling you what a sick drummer you are, you’ve been taking it in stride. It humbles and honors you, and it makes you think about what a blessed life you lead. It makes it worth it.Fast forward to the last night of tour. You didn’t sleep at all the previous night, and drive thirteen hours to play this one last show. The rest of the tour package went home, it’s just you and local bands filled with your best friends.Your phone has been off for a week. The company screwed up the autopay system, and you’ve been out of contact with everyone. You’re frustrated, and so is everyone else. But you’ve never been closer to your brothers, and you’ve never been happier.

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It’s the hometown show for you. Mom, dad, sis, pastor, friends, family, and she is there. She smiles at you as you sit on your throne, ready to go.The intro kicks in, and it’s 40 minutes of pouring sweat and high energy hardcore.It’s done. The kids are cheering, and it’s time to go home. You quickly pack up your kit and load it into the trailer. You grab your bags and throw them in your car, which Mom drove up for you to take back to your apartment(which you share with the rest of the band).

Mom and Dad hug you and tell you they’re proud of you. You weep openly at their acceptance and cognizance of the work you’ve put in.Friends hug you and pat you on the back and welcome you home. You politely decline requests to go out to eat.You secretly hope you never eat anything unhealthy again.You reek of BO and sweat.The van takes off and take the trailer back to the storage unit, where the van will also stay.You pile into your car and throw your bag on the passenger seat. You take in the solitude and sink your head into the seat for a moment, inhaling deeply.

You made it.The drive home seems so short compared to what you just went through.You’ve got the apartment to yourself. Everyone else is with family or girlfriends.You’ll see her tomorrow. She’s got school and went home after you reconciled at the show.Shower time. You strip down and throw your incredibly dirty, smelly clothing into the laundry bin.You sit in the shower til the water turns ice cold, and then some. The dirt just came off in waves. Your hair turned a lighter color after it was done.You notice the six pounds the tour diet added to you in the mirror.You throw on the clean pair of clothes Mom and Dad gave you, and you dive onto your mattress. Literally.You’re out in a matter of moments.

Two things cross your mind before you close your eyes.You have to be at work at noon tomorrow.And you can’t wait to be back on the road again.It’s that set time. It’s what you live for. What you dream about.

When you can do you what you were born to do for this phase in life. When the world melts away and five people become one cohesive, creative instrument. When the heart takes over, and the mind takes a backseat. Violent passion surfaces, and you’re home.”

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Inside of an independent mind

The survival of the record industry in the 21st century brought some serious issues to be dealt with. Questioning the very core of how to sell, distribute, present and make the music available to the fast and growing culture of consumers, regardless the age. It became the struggle for survival. Great labels went down because they couldn’t maintain the level needed to stay competent, solvent. Not even mentioning the position of bands/artists in this turmoil. Sales are down, people less and less go to the shows, supporting directly the artists, buying their merchandise or God forbid, their physical releases.

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New age demands new rules which leads to a whole different game/role-playing. The power of various online music and stream services is growing by the day. Social networking in combination with smart phone application development made possible to a huge amount of worldwide youth to be able of having their favourite music at any given time. Vinyl format made it’s come back and is definitely here to stay. CD’s still have some value, but in the ocean of pop stars, one hit wonders and teen heroes it’s easier to give a dollar for a single by downloading it than actually buy the entire album. Who listens to albums anyway?! Well, I do. It takes guts, time, nerves and strong dedication to survive as a musician. It became a sort of luxury to even play an instrument. That’s why is necessary to support your favourite artist in any way possible. I stumbled upon an article which gives us , at least to some extent, an inside look of how to operate an independent record label. You can go here and read it. After all the best music is to be found in places like this.  Support your scene!!!

You better Junior

Since the dawn of mankind, there were people, events and traditions that ignited the spark to inspire others.  If you were humble enough, you could have easily been pulled into a state of trance, trust and liberation of a certain moment. The feeling of freedom which could not be stained from an outside influence. The story of one blues man is one of those.

Welcome to the sad days and lonely nights of  DAVID ‘JUNIOR’ KIMBROUGH!

David ‘Junior’ Kimbrough was born July 28, 1930 in Hudsonville, Mississippi. As a little kid, he was learning the music from regional stars such as Eli Green, Bud Lee Jenkins, and Kimbrough’s brother, Peter. He also played house parties. The main early influence on Junior was left by Lightnin’ Hopkins. In the late ’50-es he started developing his style and slowly reinventing the kind of playing not similar to any other of his contemporaries. On of his closest friends (and rivals) was a fellow north hill bluesman R.L.Burnside. Kimbrough ran own parties and jukejoints, developing distinctive style through long nightly jams. Mid-tempo rhythms and steady drone (played by his thumb on a bass string of a guitar) characterized by the tricky syncopation, made his sound more bit trance like, repetitive and hypnotic. Not very common in typical, overall ‘blues’ setting. Sometimes polyrhythmic, it could be easily directed to the feeling and music of Africa.

Deep under those tones the similarity between him and Ali Farka Toure can’t be overlooked. In an interview from the 1990. which was later published in Guitar Player magazine, Junior said : “I have a different type of music from other peoples. They playing the other kind of blues, and I’m playing cotton-patch blues… Ain’t nobody now can play the blues that I play.”

In his natural environment, Junior would spend most of his life/career. To be more closer to people and never to abandon his roots, a house called ”Juniors’ Place” became the foundation for the live music rituals. People all over the world made pilgrimage to witness the power of something unconventional.  The word of this blues wizard traveled to the eyes and ears of some of the biggest entertainers in the music industry who went to see him play. To name a few:  Sonic Youth, Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop and U2. On every given Sunday you could go and see for yourself what was going on in there. Accompanied by his son Kenny Malone on drums and R.L. Burnside‘s son Gary on bass. Extensive sets, long jams and never ending party for all the souls needed to be purified. The church for all the broken, tired, worn out and outcast. Even though he was discovered fairly late in his life,  in the early’90-es the mission for granting the world with some of the best blues music known to man goes  to Fat Possum record label and the late, great Robert Palmer. In the late 1980s, Palmer visited Kimbrough while searching for material for a blues documentary, Deep Blues. Palmer wound up recording several of Kimbrough’s tracks for the soundtrack album. It circulated through the underground and became incredibly influential. Fat Possum Records went a step further and introduced Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, T-Model Ford and Asie Payton to national record stores. Job well done , cards well played!

During his lifetime, Junior managed to record and release couple of albums. Each and every one a piece of unique texture, story and haunted lyrics. Well, except all those ‘baby’,  ‘gonna leave you’ , ‘love’ songs. He shortly toured several times with the Fat Possum Circus and did some dates with Iggy Pop. Never was too comfortable with going out from his north hill surroundings. One band owes more to Junior than any other. From Akron, Ohio the preachers of  the ’21st century blues’ The Black Keys. He left so much influence and marked the sound and expression on several of their albums. They even recorded a full tribute album [Chulahoma:The Songs Of Junior Kimbrough], made of previously written Kimbroughs’ songs. The played it on their own terms and put themselves on the international music scene.

 In addition to the 36 children he claimed, Junior put his brand on music. He died of heart failure at the age of 67 and left the Earth on January 17, 1998.  He still kept a one-room bachelor’s apartment at the time of his death: clean, with nothing on the walls or tables, no pictures, no tour posters. Junior knew what he had accomplished, and didn’t need any souvenirs.

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