The Logistics of Hitting the Road with a 7 Piece Band
I remember when I first joined Hughie's Big Ol Bus Band a few years ago, I would just sail into the venue for soundcheck, and sail out at the end of the show. Playing my own small shows was more challenging, there was gear to be lugged, leads to be rolled.
Taking a 7 piece band on the road however, has been a lesson in logistics, communication, and foresight. How Hughie did it with 12 musicians in the Big Ol Bus will forever impress me. Instead of the work beginning and ending with set up and pack up, you have to ensure everyone is set, getting to and from the venues, accommodation must be booked, PA and production must be organised, tickets must be sold, the venue must be booked, the venue must be liaised with, promotion must happen, rehearsals must happen,the songs must be charted, merchandise must be ordered, people must be fed and somewhere in the middle of that mess- we must perform.
I was lucky on my first big band tour to be with a band of easygoing, professional, talented people who took it all in their stride. And of course- Hughie, who had seen it all before but crazier. Special shout out to Greg Royal, our bassist, who spent the night in his car after the rural motel room I booked for him...locked him out of his room when he came back from the show at 2am. On 3 hours broken sleep he showed up at the next gig and nailed it as though he'd just had 12 hours good sleep at the Ritz. I will be forever in awe and slightly mortified.
But if there's one thing I'm learning, its that shit happens (profound, I know). With shows nearly snuffed out by raging bushfires, road closures between gigs, hideously echoey venues (Andy Jenkins at Prismatic Sound did a fantastic job negotiating the challenges we booked for him) and the general stress of playing new songs with a new lineup... its best to just relax, take a moment to breathe and think: how lucky am I to be living my dream?
Then check the next item on your ever expanding list of shit you've got to do.