I’m sitting at yet another airport, it’s 4.30am and I’m trying to work out what to ingest to make sure I don’t get my system too excited bedfore I board my flight. You see I’d prefer to get some sleep, if I can, as today I really am going to be time travelling (first from Dublin forward an hour to Frankfurt then 6 hours back to Newark – which is all going to take me 14 hours !!?) and given I have a gig tomorrow afternoon I could do with catching as many ‘zzzzzzzzz’s as possible.
I have just left my husband asleep in a hotel bed (we live 90mins from the airport so for early flights it’s preferable to sleep nearerby the night before) and it’s Valentine’s day tomorrow. I can’t remember the last time we had the last Valetine’s Day together and I know for a fact that we’ve not spent my birthday together for the last 9 years. The not-so-much-fun side of the music industry.
…and why do I do it? For this..
To make music and, ultimately, hopefully, to connect.
When I started blogging I wanted it to be about my travels while performing. I visit so many different countries and I think I wanted to have a way of documenting it and all the different bands and projects I work with. I feel very lucky to do this and am constantly learning through meeting new musicians, singers, performers and people. The problem with this is, being on the road can be exhausting. The most important part, the very reason you are there, is to work. You have to concentrate on the job. On a 4 week tour that can become more difficult.
Travelling nowadays is not necessarily as ‘exotic’ as it used to be. You are often stepping on a sky bus when you fly these days. Multiple airports in one day can be draining, especially now with intense security checks – the level of which vary from one airport to the next. I still love my job but I found I was not able to write about it all the time while travelling. I have to get my head down and rest, as my voice can be weakened with different climates and temperatures, lack of sleep and we still have to keep to schedule despite weather disruptions.
Then there are the different projects – there are so many – sometimes you just have to get the work done and there is no time for writing. When you get home the desire might be to rest and not recount all your wanderings for a while or you have to get on with the next gig. The problem/blessing of being self-employed! So, health on the road and at home is something that started to feature a lot in my musings.
I was then hit by a headline in the Guardian, UK, that took me totally by surprise. It was about endometriosis. That ugly disease. Now that is something I feel I NEED to write about. It is maybe the biggest journey I have ever been on. Dealing with it is also a project that is ongoing and can take time. However, it doesn’t occupy my time as it used to, but I’m still working out if that is a good or a bad thing. You see, in some ways I have learned to live with it and don’t think about it all the time but before I used to have think about it constantly, what it meant each day, the next month – would that be another hospital visit? – what it meant for the future? Now I wonder, am I so relieved to be beyond the pain have I given up? Or is it just acceptance.
When you are on the road touring, or even in ‘real’ life, it’s the little things. It really is.
Tour buses are beasts. They are massive. Bunks to sleep 12. Two seated areas front and back. A kitchen, shower and toilet. When at rest the front seated area expands out on the drivers side so you have twice the room, a helpful feature. They have Volvo D13 engines that have increased fuel efficiency and exceed the EPA emmission standards (I’ll take that over flying any day) and their ‘powertrain’ engines get us where we want to go fast.
Our drivers are highly skilled, courteous and good craic, an important aspect of tour life, as to survive in the touring world you have to be able to get on with people. Musicianship or being able to drive or be a sound engineer are not the only qualities.
On this tour we are all of an age and experience to know late nights and noise will not be tollerated for long as sleep is required. Certainly for me losing my voice would really defeat the purpose.
I have not quite yet found out how to write my blog while on the bus. For this I need solitude. Maybe I’m just too chatty and find myself distracted in people’s company. They are good people though, so I am enjoying discovering more about them all.
Now much as the bus is a good home to us, there is one thing I think we would all agree on..one little thing…waking up in a new town and finding you’ve a hotel room for the daytime = GLORIOUS! You gather all your gear, you head to your room and if you are me, you throw it all about the place. You expand! You go to the gym. You bathe. You watch whatever TV channel you fancy. You maybe order room service. You take your time. Until sound check you can, if you wish, sit in silence. You call your loved ones without a whisper. All it takes is a day room for a few hours and life is back to ‘normal’. On the bus their is much laughter but sometimes a little alone time is needed even for those who love to play, sing, dance and make good music together.