I am writing this blurb from the back of a Ford Transit twelve passenger van, en route to Portland, Oregon from Sacramento. My record label and I are a few months into a press cycle for a new record, and my band and I are 18 shows into a six week, 35 show tour. I’m sipping an emergen-C laced bottle of Sacramento tap to slow the arrival of an inevitable cold.
It’s a privilege to tour the continent in a middling alt-country band, and it’s also grueling and repetitive work. The tightness and familiarity of a touring band is something special, musically, and in my experience that cultivation demands a lot of extra-musical labor. Baked into the sound are budgets and spreadsheets, sagging boxes of records and cracked plastic storage bins full rolled up tees, carefully negotiated meal vouchers and crumpled up gas receipts. It’s easy for the cycle of load ins and load outs to lull you into a trance, but it’s hard to forget that for the band to play, money must change hands.
It’s in these times of my life I find myself searching for music made in a different mold. The music of bedrooms and back-porches, sermons and cookouts. Music made to pass time, to ease hurt. Songs sung in protest, or to feel closer to god. I crave music not performed by a performer to a ticket-buying audience, but shared between friends, families, communities and congregations. Music that sounds and feels de-professionalized. Here’s some stuff in that vain that we’ve spun in the van.