Just under 7,000 kms and 16 shows under my belt. What an adventure it's been so far including my near run in with a jaywalking moose that most certainly would have destroyed my Honda Fit tour bus.
Canada sure is a beautiful, unique and challenging country to tour with endless stretches of deserted highway and kamikaze wildlife looking to thwart your journey at every turn.
I'm currently enjoying a rather mellow day off in the inspiring city of Montreal and have been graciously taken in by the multi talented couple of JJ Coolidge and his lovely Sandra.
It's been wonderful to pause and catch my breath before embarking again tomorrow to begin the long journey back home. This French Canadian paradise is the perfect place to reflect while enjoying fantastic company and rich culture.
Overall the turnouts and shows have been amazing, especially back on the familiar home turf of B.C. and Alberta. The early success of those shows took much of the pressure off my eastern leg which has definitely been sparse in support save for a wonderful night in Kitchener.
Regardless of the hit and miss turnouts, I'm really happy to have forged this far and have gained a better understanding of what to do differently for next time. No one could have predicted the record breaking temperatures and summer like conditions that have basked Ontario and Quebec in a haze of celebratory joy.
The last thing anyone wants to do here is be stuck inside some dark venue while the rest of the population is out enjoying parks, patios and camping retreats. This is a common theme I've noticed over the last 5 or so years of touring across Canada and it particularly affects the big cities. I've concluded that the conventional wisdom of saving your prize weekend gigs for the larger cities is actually backwards. From now on I will attempt to book my big city dates on week nights and save the weekends for smaller the towns who's inhabitants generally get to enjoy the outdoors on a more regular basis.
Many people have inquired about how I went about booking this tour so I'll do my best to share the strategy here albeit in a nutshell.
It took about two months and hundreds of cold calls and emails to line up these dates. I started by drawing up a loose outline of the tour stops focusing first on anchoring the weekends in with big cities.
It was an incredibly time consuming experience but I learned a lot along the way.
I would google live music venues for each city, research prospective venues to find a good fit and then customize my message in hopes of securing a gig. Just to give you an idea of how this played out, I attempted over 20 bookings in Winnipeg and received not a single response.
I had a bit of help on two of the gigs but otherwise this method worked best for the most part.
After I locked in the "anchor" dates I then filled in the weekdays with smaller town dates that were ideally no more than 4hrs driving distance.
I sought out rooms that had a special vibe conducive to a sharing an intimate musical experience.
The ideal seating capacity is 30-70 as this lends itself to a very special communication between myself and the audience.
I like to imagine how it would have been long ago in Spain before flamenco became a commodity to be sold in Larger venues. The 'Duende' or spirit of the muse is much easier to share in smaller spaces with an attentive audience. The original cantina parties must have been something to behold, a far cry from the impersonal experience of a thousand plus seat theatre.
Don't get me wrong, ultimately I'm aiming to take this show to theatre size venues but I do enjoy the intimacy of a small yet enthusiastic audience dearly and would happily spend the rest of my life performing for them.
I rented a Bose L1 model II system from L&M with extra large sub speaker as most of the venues were not equipped for live performance. Those systems are ideal for traveling solo performers and the ease of setup is unmatched.
Traveling solo in a Honda Fit is the most economical way to go these days. Gas is affordable, there is plenty of space and I even have enough room in the back to fully stretch out in my bunk. I loved showing off the amount of gear I could stow to stunned friends and family.
So there you have it, I'm the composer, performer, booking agent, driver, sound man, merch guy and marketing team. It's a lot of hats to wear but a necessary part of the process I'm sure anyone who's ever gone into business for themselves can relate to.
Live music support is definitely on the decline due to numerous reasons including the downturned economy, venues closing, and a shift in lifestyle that sees less people venturing out to traditional drinking establishments. Also,many people are turned off by the thought of a live act that is often so loud it's nearly impossible to talk and connect with friends and family.
However, life will always change so it's up to us to adapt or we risk becoming jaded and cynical.
Someone, somewhere has always figured out a solution and always will.
I envision the industry side of music as a long lineup of great musicians queuing up for the same door they were told was the only way to success.
It's daunting at times to see how many people are in that line so rather than wait and suffer a slow death, I focus on building my own doors. For better or for worse and at the very least, it's exciting to forge your own path to a career in the arts. I'm more than happy to just make ends meet while pursuing my passion and getting to share it with people who have a similar appreciation for original music.
Having said that, I do have some lofty goals that will involve a large personal investment of time and money. I'd love to open a school of music that focuses primarily on reaching children that face various life challenges including disability, learning disabilities and poverty.
The trick will always be to find the balance between keeping my art pure and inspired while learning to run the business side that ensures I'll be able to continue. It's an uncomfortable thought at the best of times but nowadays you have no choice but to be your own advocate.
I am very fortunate to be where I am today and grateful for every bit of this experience . It wasn't always this way and yes I worked my ass off to get here but many things have had to line up for me to be in this space. It will always be a goal of mine to help spread useful information and inspiration so please feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions regarding your own artistic career development.
That's all for now, I hope you are all enjoying your muse and want to thank you sincerely for supporting me and being a part of this journey.