Reading My Way Around the World

Monday 8 August 2016

On the road Frequently Asked Questions

People have so many different ideas of what it's like to be on tour that I thought I would answer a few questions here and let you see behind the scenes.

The first, and most annoying, question that we frequently get asked is:
Are you on holidays?
Ok, let me first qualify my answer by saying I do love music and above all I love performing, but now let me ask you - would you choose for your holiday to work for 5 or 6 hours a night, pack the car, get up early next morning and travel to another town to repeat the process?  
Many people have a romantic idea of what it means to be a touring musician - one guy said to me, "I just picture you musicians heading off on the road and stopping up to play music for whomever will listen".   Hmmm, yes that's a good idea.   And how do we pay for our food and petrol etc?  "Oh, I hadn't thought about that".  Right! This was in a venue where the owner insists on putting around a hat to pay the artists, but passes no remarks on half of his audience leaving at half time before he passes around the hat!   Needless to remark we won't be going back - which is a huge shame cause it is a lovely venue and a great audience.  But every workman needs to be paid. 
So let me answer the question by quite categorically saying a huge No!   This is our job, our chosen path in life; however bizarre it may seem - and sometimes it feels very bizarre to me - but this is how we make a living.  

Driving off into the sunset?  I guess not :)
Do you just keep travelling around Europe?  You get to see some fabulous places.
I do love Europe - above any place else in the world - sorry to my friends further afield.  I love hearing different languages and eating different food.   However, it is always good to come home and then you can appreciate the travelling all the more.  And we do other things when we're at home.   Like planning future tours, recording, writing (although that's a painful subject for me), I also do some voice coaching, run a couple of community choirs, we have a studio and get involved in lots of side projects as well as also doing some gigs at home. 

We get to see lots of out of the way places, towns and villages that you wouldn't perhaps get to see on a holiday.  But the down side of that is that we also see an awful lot of motorway.  
But it is the people that most define a place for me.  
Over the years we have made friends along the road.   In the beginning we got to know them and then their children.   Now we are meeting their grandchildren and getting to know the pets and hobbies.  

The scenery whizzing by
How do you get these gigs? How did you come to this small town?
We have been travelling for nearly 25 years - after a concert someone will come to us and ask us to come to their venue on our next tour if we're in the area; or perhaps a friend will organise and publicise a concert or two for us in their home area.   This has been the case on our recent tour in Germany - our friend Barney organised some concerts in his area around Kiel and another friend Rita organised one on the Rhine.   They are both in the music community in their own areas and know the venues that would suit us.  
Then I put the tour plan together and decide the route we will take once I know what days certain venues usually work on.  
Have you a place near you that you would suggest we contact on our next trip to the UK or Australia or Germany?
Past places with exotic names - Shark Creek?

Why do you not fly?
Well, obviously we do fly to Australia or America.   But for concerts in Europe or the UK it is easier for us to take our own car so that we can fit in Tom's conga drums and a small sound system.   Plus with your own car it's easier to throw in an extra coat in case the weather turns cold and of course I leave enough room to bring some wine home from France :) 

Is it not tiring doing concerts every night?
Actually no ... you get into a rhythm and it becomes quite easy to keep going once you get past the second or third night.   It gets hard again once you have a night off.   Then your body thinks "weyhey we can rest up now" and doesn't like being kicked in to action again. 

So there you have it - a little peak into life behind the scenes on the road. 


  1. I do think people have many misconceptions about life as a musician and they think just because you love what you do, that you will do it for free or a paltry amount. But would an accountant or a solicitor do it for free? I suspect not! I did a gig recently for people I don't know and they thought £40was an acceptable amount for essentially 8hours hard work. Greetings from Belfast!! I'm in Dublin on Wednesday and Cork on Thursday so I'm on your island!!!x

    1. £40 is ridiculous - the problem is there are people who don't need the money who are delighted to play for that, for 8 hours work and then make it impossible for others to get a decent wage.
      Have fun in Ireland - pity we hadn't planned to meet up in Newry on your way through from Belfast to Dublin. Enjoy a pint of Guinness somewhere :)

    2. Oh, I was glad to know that Kezzie is in Belfast and genuinely happy that you could meet, but now I see it won't happen :( But I am sure that one day it will! And horrible 40 pounds for 8 hours, that's not OK!

  2. People are idiots and just don't think. The song "They Call Me a Teenage Idol" comes to mind.

  3. Now my comment, not the reply to yours and Kezzie's :) OMG, the questions! I also get some repeated ones that I think "oh please". Burt they are not like yours and don't concern music. "Are you on holidays?" Yes, I am, I will work for 6 hours a day and instead of sleeping, after work, I will go sightseeing. That would be a good answer :) Such a shame about the hat being passed before all could see it and it's lovely that you made friends and now know their grandchildren. This is such a nice post, I really really enjoyed it! If I could I would ask you for voice coaching; people tell me I have a nice voice, but I really can't release it, I told you. Years of complexes. I had a concert at college and I simply couldn't sing. I was petrified! Hope you have a beautiful week, dear Fil! Hugs!

    1. We could try a session by Skype some time Denise - just for fun - if you'd like.

  4. Hi Fil - I can imagine life is fractured - but it's a life you've chosen so accept the ups and the downs and the tiredness ... I admire you - not sure I could do it ... but I am not musical - so that definitely solves that problem. Also you get lots of great experiences - that can hold you in good stead .. for writing, for a book or two, and memories of old friends and new faces ...

    Cheers Hilary

    1. Don't be putting ideas in my head Hilary :)

  5. Doing something you love is always an adventure as well as hard work. When I was on vacation, a place that we stopped at to visit, I spied musicians arriving relatively early (roughly around 11:30a) for what I assumed to be was a late afternoon/early evening gig.

    People who think that the live of a musician is easy should take a step back and examine it through the lens of what they do for a living. Guaranteed that they would change their line of thinking if the saw that the amount of work required to put on a show is equal to or exceeds the amount of work required for them to do their successfully, they would think twice about that kind of Pollyanna thinking.

    Father Nature's Corner

    1. It's true GB - and I think the same goes for writers - the amount of work you all put in to your creations far exceeds the time it takes for us to read them.

  6. Oh goodness Fil - the hat thing is appalling! I've always thought touring must be incredibly hard - but I imagine part of my bias is I'm such a recluse. But I like the idea that over the years you've made wonderful deep relationships, and it certainly must be fun when you get to connect. One thing I know for sure, we certainly don't value the artists in our world anywhere near enough.

    1. The friendships are certainly one of the many plusses Deborah - thank you for the support x


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