The Plan: A Traveling Experiment in Musical Community Building
As I mention on the Author page, I’ve long had a dream to travel around, play music and write about it. It’s not the average American dream, but it’s mine, and I’m going for it.
One may wonder how exactly one might fulfill such a purpose. Well, I can’t give you exacts, but I can lay out the rough draft in my head. Revisions are sure to be abundant.
So far, I’ve taken merely a few first baby steps toward a grand plan that I intend to blueprint and construct over the next couple years. The plan consists of a period of learning and creating, followed by a period of booking and marketing, and executed with an extended tour of the United States.
My initial task is getting a sufficient musical product packaged and put out to the world. There are a great many parts to this process, some of which I have had in place but are now outdated, others that I never saw through to satisfaction in the first place. I’ve managed to book a steady stream of cover gigs for years mostly through word of mouth, but the time has come to get a solid press kit squared away.
That means respectable demos of my cover material, quality tracks of well-written original tunes with a well-honed original sound, some type of “look” establishing an artistic identity captured via reasonably professional photography, and a marketing apparatus tying it all together across multiple platforms.
There will be plenty of overlap between the creation and preparation stages, as I will be continually reaching out to potential collaborators while also working to improve my musical wares. The primary objective is to book dates, and some venues will require more qualifications than others.
Hopefully, venue owners will see the value in these events and recognize that my contribution as a performer will only be a small part of the bigger picture, which brings me to the tour…
A general outlook has the tour starting sometime in September, about six months from now.
The goal is to play 100 venues in 50 states in 1 year. So roughly two shows a week. My intention is to eat local, shop local, bank local and consume as little as possible. How easy that will be in reality remains to be seen. I reckon it will likely depend on the location and its available resources weighed against the direness of my particular situation. It should be an interesting ongoing experiment.
The details of said tour will be revealed on this blog in real time as progress unfolds. If venues want to participate in this project, hit me up and let’s figure out a date. I’ve put together a very general Tour Schedule so booking managers can get a rough idea of when I’ll be coming through your area.
Where and when I book these shows will depend largely on a few factors that I will use as guideposts. I hope to piggyback off some existing groups, the main being Transition Network. If a town has an active Transition Initiative or similar community-based infrastructure; if I have friends in the area; how strong the music scene is in that region – all of this will be taken into account when booking.
The basic idea is to create a bill with the best two or three original acts I can find in each location, and invite several local-centric businesses and organizations to help “present” the event. I will open the shows and possibly act as a host to introduce the bands and other entities involved. Obviously, putting each one of these events together myself is unrealistic. My hope is that if I can nail down the venues and artists for each date, the Transition collectives in those places can help to gather the other parties.
“Other parties” might include food share programs, family farm operations, green companies and causes, farm-to-fork restaurants, instrument shops and other local retailers, music schools, orchestras, recording studios, sound and stage services, scene supporters, creative collectives, young professionals groups, business incubators, credit unions, publications, tourism agencies and chambers of commerce – to name a few possibilities.
I would prefer to steer clear of politically-minded organizations, but it all comes down to what the community wants. It’s their event. I only ask that if you invite one side, you invite the other as well. Just remember, the key is to minimize conflict and maximize cooperation.
Transportation & Preparation
If at all possible, I would like to partake of this journey in some sort of alternative-powered vehicle. There are a lot of options these days and I’ll be exploring all of them. I might reach out to vehicle makers about potential sponsorships, or I may find a way to soup something up myself. I imagine this will be the trickiest piece of the puzzle to place. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’ll deal.
I suspect the preparation for this journey will be intense, which is why I’ve given myself a half year head start. I figure as long as I can stay a good five months ahead of showtimes I shouldn’t have too much trouble with booking. Ideally, people will hear about this project and seek me out. Please do so. The earlier we can set something tentative, the more leeway we have for adjustments later.
If I can find a way to pull this off while maintaining a tolerable level of comfort, that’s what I’m getting out of this. What’s more important to me is what I’m giving out of this. There are a lot of amazing people doing great things out there and I feel like musicians can make a huge collective impact if we start spreading those ideas to our local music scenes and the venues that support them. If you like the thought of using music to strengthen your community, then let’s make it happen.
As always, I’m grateful for any feedback I can get. If you have suggestions, solutions, queries or critiques, feel free to fire away. I am all ears.