Life on the road has taught us some pretty important lessons. And since we’re nothing if not helpful, we want to share a little wisdom with our favorite people: YOU, the fans!
Whether you’re touring with your own band, or loading up your friends to follow us to our next gig, these tips just might make your trip a whole lot easier.
Road Trip Tip #1: Towels matter.
After a long ride in an equipment-crowded van, there’s nothing like a nice hot shower to help you get ready to thump, bump and wow the house with some acoustic blues. But stepping outside that band house shower and finding nothing to dry off with but paper towels? Nope, not good. And yep, it’s happened. Always pack your own towels of the non-paper variety.
Road Trip Tip #2: So do blankets.
If you’re traveling with a group, somebody’s bound to want the AC cranked up higher than everybody else. We’ve been there. Herbie has Nordic roots. The guy wears shorts in the winter. Sal likes it frosty too. This could leave the other half of the band huddled up in the corner as we all head down “Route 32” or wherever. Oddly, being cold is just not cool. We’ve learned it’s a good idea to pack a few blankets along with those towels.
Road Trip Tip #3: People who say money doesn’t matter are liars.
Wasting money really makes us sing the blues – but not in a good way. Whenever we’re ready to say, “Baby, I’m on the Road,” we like to save our pennies for the important stuff. Like grabbing a beer or three at the venue. Or snapping up vintage gear or other rare finds at local Mom and Pop stores. Like the awesome cymbal Sal bought Roanoke, VA that he now uses on every gig, the great old tin kazoo Herbie scored a Kentucky shop, and the bridge Chris got for his bass in Staunton, VA. (No sax for Art yet, but, hey, there’s always hope.)
So just how can you cut down on your own road expenses? We’ve got a few ideas for you:
1. Spring for a $4 case of bottled water at Wal-Mart before heading out. It’s way smarter than paying a buck-and-a-half for every bottle at convenient stores and gas stations along the way.
2. Speaking of gas stations -- research gas prices. Take advantage of the free app called GasBuddy.
3. Try to get a corporate rate for the rental van. We found out by proving we’re business – and, yeah, that does mean a little paperwork – as long as we rent the van 5+ times annually, we can get the best rate all year-long.
4. Sign up for a hotel rewards program. We love using points for free Hampton Inn stays!
5. Better yet, “book” a stay with friends/fans in the area where you’re headed! We’re all about interacting and making connections. As far as we’re concerned, hanging out with people, trading stories -- maybe even holding an impromptu jam session -- beats watching TV in some impersonal hotel room every time!
Road Trip Tip #4: People who say it’s about the journey as much as about the destination are NOT liars.
Make your journey a harmonious one by having everybody bring along his/her own playlist of traveling music. It’s no surprise that we’ve got lots of blues on our iPods. And New Orleans stuff by the Meters, Stanton Moore and the Preservation Hall Band. We also mix in some old funk grooves by Stevie Wonder and James Brown. Chris’s list features older R&B music like Otis Reading and Sam and Dave, and he’s also a fan of the new band St. Paul and The Broken Bones. So is Art – who favors funk grooves and – what else? -- music with horn sections. Sal likes classic rock like Kiss and Van Halen, while Herbie’s partial to more obscure artists like David Lindley and David Bromberg. He also likes listening to the Gypsy Jazz of groups like the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
Equipped with all this helpful information, you’re probably ready to hit the road to your own gig -- or maybe to dance and party with us at ours!
Wherever you’re headed, remember Road Trip Tip #5: Don’t Be Late!
And check back next month for more Road Trip Tips from us, Herbie D and the Dangermen!
written by: Darla Parris Smallwood
pictures By: Chris Gifford
pictures By: Chris Gifford