Plenty of people go to see bands when they come through their town, but most people don’t think about everything that it takes to get those bands to their favorite club. Being on tour for a musician is both enlightening and daunting, as physically and mentally draining as it is stimulating. And no matter what, there are always stories to tell. In Tales From The Golden Road we let musicians tell their own stories of life on the road to get a behind-the-scenes, up-close look at what really goes down between each show.
The beginning of 2017 marks our 11th year as a band, which is something none of us would have imagined when we started collaborating at a Wednesday night residency gig in Austin in late 2005…
But here we are, grateful to be making music and traveling the country. I’m not sure how many shows we’ve played over the years, but it’s probably in the ballpark of 1500 shows. This year, however, there is a new collective energy and excitement within the band as we set out on tour in support of our latest record, Duende (Read our REVIEW). We’re all feeling a renewed sense of urgency and determination and we’re excited to go out and connect with our tribe of people via the power of heady-roots-rock.
The first leg of the tour has so far consisted of a week on a music festival-style cruise ship for the Delbert McClinton Sandy Beaches Cruise. We’ve been fortunate to get to do these music cruises where we don’t have to spend 5-7 hours a day on the highway and instead get to hang out with true music fans and some of our favorite musicians as we wander around a huge ship in the middle of the Caribbean eating eclectic worldly cuisine from a buffet line and downing unlimited ice cream cones. This cruise was particularly fun with Lukas Nelson and the Mavericks’ Raul Malo sitting in a couple times during our sets. Then back on land we played a couple of shows in Florida, the highlight of which was getting to play and hang with Los Lobos. The grooves and textures those guys throw down are inspiring and the guys are all as cool as can be. We do have one confession to make: we stole a couple shots of tequila from their stash of booze in the green room because we had to know what Los Lobos’ tequila tastes like. Sorry guys! Needless to say, it was smooth.
The mid-Atlantic portion of our East Coast tour has not been without challenges. The shows have been killer. Above expectations and lots of fun, but in 4 days on the highway, we’ve had a tire blowout while driving, a busted axle on our trailer, and another flat tire…we had to leave our trailer in North Carolina to get repaired so we’re now pulling around a U-haul trailer for the remainder of the East Coast tour. We’re thankful for the help of Jim Campen in Asheville, NC for doing everything he could do to help getting our trailer back up and running. The reality of this job is that the shows are so much fun that we’d do them for free…it’s all the time driving, loading heavy gear, staying in hotels, and dealing with the perils of the road that we get paid for.
Last night we played in Washington D.C. on the night of the Women’s March on Washington. We’re so grateful for the incredibly strong women in our lives, and it was an honor to be there on such a historic day. Unfortunately we didn’t get to march because we were driving, loading gear, and soundchecking during the day, but we could feel the energy at the show of so many who marched against misogyny and sexism. We ended the night with a cover of “Maybe I’m Amazed”, dedicated to all the strong women making a stand.
The Brooklyn-based band The National Reserve has been opening up the first half of our east coast shows. They’re a great band and a bunch of cool cats. They’ve been slaying it on their sets and then we’ve enjoyed getting them up on stage to sing “Look at Miss Ohio” or “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” on some of the nights during our set. We hope you guys are enjoying their music as much as we are. Hopefully we’ll get to do some more shows with them.
Radio and press are kicking into high gear this week, so we’re riding high on the wheels of our independent release team. Thanks to all the stations and writers that have been supporting the release. Mostly, thanks to all of you that have been coming out to the shows. It truly sustains us and allows us to keep living the dream.
The Band of Heathens are on tour now supporting their new album Duende. We’ll be publishing dispatches from their tour as it progresses. For a full list of dates and music visit bandofheathens.com.