Technically, there is no touring the wrong way. If you get on the road and share your craft with new people, you are right. I don’t want this blog to turn into me telling you what to do, because I really have no fucking clue. But, I can tell you what I’M doing. And my band mates will tell you…I am always I’m right. Unless I’m wrong.
My first tour was with my brother from another mother, Jay Allan, from our Delcoa days. We’ve had recent conversations and we both agree, we were touring the wrong way. We were so excited to hit the road and play for new audiences, but we were really just throwing darts with a blindfold on. We would make new fans and play new cities, but we would never follow up with them or return to the venue. I don’t want to downplay this, because the memories were priceless and we earned our degree from the University of Touring.
Now when I tour with Whitherward, it’s well planned and methodical. We moved to the West from Nashville, because we wanted to work a regional fan base out here. We’ve done pretty much the same circuit about 5 times, and it’s working. People are coming back, and they are bringing more of their people. And when we hit up a new city, we try to connect with other musicians in the area. They are our family! And families, like trees, will grow. How many of you musicians have an amazing local scene that you run with? Well, why limit it to just one?
I will give some examples of what I mean, just from our Mini Mid May Tour alone. I’m sitting in Aromas Coffeehouse right now in Omaha, Nebraska. We came this way because we’ve been connecting online with the wonderful people at musicpage.com and they told us how great the music scene is here. They told us where to play and now we’re crashing on one of their writers couches, Erik Jarvis, who will also be joining us on the bill tonight at Barley Sreet Tavern. Boom, Omaha music family. When we were looking for a show in Kansas City, I contacted a venue that was already booked to see if we could open up for one of their local legends, Billy Beale. Billy has been very kind to us and we’re joinging him at Harling’s Upstairs tomorrow night. Not to mention, re-connecting with one of our favorite bands, MBird when we’re there. Boom, Kansas City music family. And as for last night in Grand Island, we watched our audience tripple in size throughout the night, simply because our new friends kept texting their friends while they were sitting there. (See best/worst wave video on our Facebook page…I told ya’ll would make the blog!) Boom, Grand Island family.
We took down email addresses or social media contacts, and we will be following up with them and returning to these cities within a few months. This, makes it all worth it. Touring is hard! Those of you who do it know that it sounds way more glamorous than it is. We are sleeping on couches, eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and driving long hours. But for Whitherward, the rewards outweigh the struggles. We’ll keep doing it until it’s not fun anymore. So all that being said…am I right, or am I right?