Monday, September 14, 2015

We Did It! Alright Alright Returns Part 1

Well, wow.

We did it.

We hauled ourselves, our children, Katelin, our gear, and our vintage 1959 trailer across the country and back.  5700 miles, nine house shows, twenty-one nights, countless truck stops, a few state parks, a national monument, one national park, several national forests, and one Crazy Horse later, we have returned to our Colorado crash pad across from the train tracks.

It was epic, this tour we dubbed the “Tin Cup Nights Tour”.  Not because of the raging after-parties or screaming fans busting their way to the front of the stage, and not because we made out like bandits financially. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I‘ll take all of those things AND an invitation to open for Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats.  But this tour was successful because it proved something epic to us: that this weird musical lifestyle can actually work for us, for our family.

For so so long, I was convinced that I had to either be a mom or a performer.  The traditional avenues to success in the music industry are woefully un-family-friendly.  Believe me, I’ve experienced it, and I’ve watched other families go through it.  I’ve played shows that started at midnight, gotten home at three am and then woken up with the kids at six am.  I’ve watched wives become single parents for whole swaths of time while their husbands toured.  Heck, I’ve been one of those wives.  Ugh.  I still shudder when I think of those days.

How in the world could we possibly make touring work for our family?  I mean, there was no way we were going to let our kids sit in a nasty greenroom for and hour and a half while we played to half-listening, half-drunk people at 11pm.  And we aren’t quite at the stage where we can hire a full-time nanny to tag along with us, whisking the kids away at bedtime while mommy and daddy sing pretty songs.  Nope.  It had to be a whole-family affair.  A road-trip with some singing involved, and a few strategically placed destinations to buoy our cute little charges along the way.  It had to be musical, professional and family-centric. Somehow, almost accidentally, we struck that balance.

In the following days and weeks, I will tease this out, devoting a blog post to each of the intentional or completely accidental tenants of our success.  We are home now, and honestly, I just want to get back on the road.  It’s easier there.  Life on the road is definitely difficult physically, but oh! The freedom from the trappings of houses, pets, lawns to be watered, pianos to dust!

The duality of this life we have chosen, the necessary stasis of home and family and school and soccer and music lessons juxtaposes, sometimes jarringly, with the equally necessary gypsy-like life of a troubadour.  It is not for the faint of heart. This re-entry into the Typical American Life has been like shifting from fifth to first gear.  Clearly, there are lessons to be learned on this side of the adventure, but thank God we had the adventure in the first place.  

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