When I tell people that I am a full time musician living on the road, they ask me questions that lead me assume that they think I live a very glamorous lifestyle. I have had my share of great times so far, and I am very lucky to be able to do what I want to do for a living, so I am not here to complain. But, after having just spent three weeks alone touring the Southwest, I have had some time lately to contemplate the less glamorous aspects of my day-to-day existence. I have decided to recount them here.
Even if you are a working transient with money in your pocket, you are a transient nonetheless. I move from the hostel to a friend-of-a-friend's couch to my old friend's spare room to a cheap motel. On the average, in these last few weeks, I have moved about every two days. In Vegas I had cheap motels, but I had to move twice in order to receive the best deals. I pack and unpack. I constantly feel as if I'm coming and going at the same time.
I spend more time in laundromats than I would care to. I sit, wait, move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, sit, wait, fluff and fold. It's not always a party.
Speaking of parties... during my first couple days in Vegas, I drank copious amounts of alcohol, smoked cigarettes, gambled and hung out by the pool. But the drinks by the pool aren't cheap, and drinking and smoking all day is no way to prepare for a show. I remembered that the best way to maintain my energy and funds is to save my drinking for when I was at my shows so that I could collect my free drinks. After those first two days, I went back to my old routine of drinking too much coffee and walking around town all day, and then going to bed at a sensible hour without too many drinks in me.
Relaxing has always been a bit of a challenge for me, but now I find it even harder to do. I am constantly on my phone, confirming a show, looking for my next one. Sometimes I wish I could just chill but no one else is going to find me my next gig or make sure that the venues all have sound equipment and that everyone there knows I'm coming to play. But since this is the best job I've ever had, I really do not mind spending a great deal of my time looking for the work and making the contacts.
I feel compelled now to mention a few of the upsides to living this type of lifestyle:
- If you like people, this may be the job for you. You will get to meet so many people, and -- if you couch-surf as I have just started to do -- you will get to know some people that you might not have met otherwise.
- Free drinks, free food, free coffee, and sometimes free lodging. The more nights you play, the less you have to pay for.
- Waking up in different cities.
- And lastly, I love that I'm never really sure what day is it. I wonder if it is Friday on Monday, or Monday on Friday. Every day feels like a Saturday.