New Year, New Challenges
As many of you know, we tour constantly – over 250 shows a year! – and we work on a lot of extra stuff along with that. It can take its toll on even the most hardened person. With that, we decided to try something a little different for the new year – instead of spending a few days or a week in each location, we decided to try and spend a whole month in a location. There are a couple we wanted to try this:
- If we stay in a location for awhile, it is easier to network and make crucial connections for future shows, opportunities, and the like.
- The travel should be less strenuous; we can unload our gear and only take what we need to places.
We’re happy to report that, at least for the month of January, #1 definitely held true. #2 was not quite as successful, as our gigs were spread out over LA/Orange County and San Diego County, so our commutes averaged about an hour or more. But still, 50% ain’t bad. With that said, let’s take a look back at the last month.
Many of you have heard the tale of how the transmission in our Subaru Outback blew up back in December, and that has a mostly happy ending (a future blog post will recall the tale if you haven’t), but after we resolved the issue and hit the road again, we were greeted with a particularly scary situation. Upon pulling up to park at our first gig on the first day of 2017, our car would not shift into any gear – it was stuck in drive! It was terrifying, considering how much we paid to fix the car. Deciding to tough it out, we played the gig then promptly contacted AAA thereafter, whose agent – through a comedy of errors – showed up about 4 hours after we contacted them. Still crestfallen, we were trying to figure out the best course of action for our disabled vehicle – where to tow, who to call, etc. – while explaining what was wrong to the driver, and he mentioned that it was a really simple fix; he could have us up and running in 10 minutes! True to his word, he jury-rigged a stopgap solution and the car was working again!
Subaru once again helped us out, paying the admittedly cheap (but still expensive for us) repair bill for a permanent fix to the newfound problem, and we breathed a huge sigh of relief that our problems with the car were, for now, over. We could continue executing our month-long plan to maximize our presence in Southern California, and as it turns out, the best was yet to come.
“Parking for ‘Nam?”
We have been to a few conventions and festivals since the inception of Whitherward, and we always are looking for ways to maximize the experience. Often times, though, we’re hamstrung by price of admission, time, or other mitigating factors – chief amongst them are availability when the convention actually takes place. This year, however, we were in the right place at the right time – we were staying with our friends in Anaheim when we learned that the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention was going to be taking place practically in our backyard, and we were excited! Furthermore, our dear friend Jason Kostal of Kostal Guitars was exhibiting at the convention and offered us passes to gain entry – and we gladly accepted. A chance to see all of the new up-and-coming trends in the music and audio worlds is not to be missed. But we were not prepared for the amount of awesomeness that was to occur that weekend.
We walked in to the convention with zero intentions or expectations – we were, quite frankly, just happy to be there! However, in the back of our heads, we were on the hunt for a new acoustic guitar. Luckily, our friend Jason knew just the company to check out – Avian Guitars. This upstart acoustic guitar company had a friend in common with Jason, and we were introduced and started to play a couple of their acoustic guitars. And we fell in love with them.
As we got to know the reps more, Jason helped us broker an endorsement deal with the company, and we secured one of their guitars for Ashley! It’s a mahogany Songbird model, and it’s a fantastic guitar. Avian’s goal is to make excellent, boutique-quality guitars for a fraction of the price, and we can attest that they’ve nailed it. Thanks to Ben, Richard, Roger, Abe, and Michael for making this partnership happen! We can’t wait to spread the word; keep an eye on our social media channels for more about Avian!
One of the most fun things about the convention was bumping into people we knew from all over the country. Someone would call out “Whitherward!”, and we’d reconnect with an old friend. Perhaps the height of this for us was a podcast we recorded at the TASCAM booth for Now Hear This Entertainment. The host, Bruce Wawrzyniak, hosted Ashley on his then-new podcast back when she was still living in Nashville (it was episode 6 back in 2014!), and we had the incredible fortune to cross paths with him again at NAMM. We brought along some Avian guitars and put on a little performance at the TASCAM booth, then had a fantastic interview session with Bruce, who is a consummate professional in podcasting.
Throughout the show, we met several friends – old and new – who made the experience that much more fun for us, and made us feel like we really belonged in this industry. It was truly a great experience. Indeed, throughout the whole month of January, we were fortunate to bump into old friends and share some new experiences with them. Two concerts with murder-ballad songwriter Aubryn rounded out our time in San Diego, and we even re-connected with Kylie Rothfield, fresh off her experience on The Voice. Ed’s friend Reavis Mitchell has a successful audio gear company called Icon Pro Audio that had a corner booth at NAMM, and Chris Mara, owner of Welcome To 1979 and Mara Machines, was part of a fantastic panel on preparing your music for vinyl production. Our Los Angeles experience couldn’t have been better.
Until Next Month…
Thank you for joining us on our tours across the country! This month we’re in the Central Coast; to take a look at our schedule, head to the website! See you on the road!