It’s been an exhausting few weeks of making the new Runaway Home record, but I can safely say that I’m tired from making music rather than tired of making music. What a difference that one word makes. We have loved every minute of it. We are trying hard to have the new CD finished in time to take it with us on our Upstate New York tour in April. If that was the only task before us it would be daunting for sure, but it’s just one of many, making the whole thing a fairly ridiculous notion. Non-the-less, we are bound and determined to birth this baby in what will end up being less than two months time.
Subscribing to the life and model of #indieband is more than just making music on your own terms. It’s a commitment to doing nearly everything yourself and understanding that the making of the music is the least of what we do. Often times in a normal day of indie band life we’re not making music at all. The trade-off of not being on a label and having the freedom that independence gives us, is that we also don’t have a staff of people doing all the behind the scenes work. We are lucky to have Marilee Chipoletti doing the booking and managing the hot mess of making cold calls, but nearly every other job falls to us.
Social media is a bane and a blessing, and in constant need of being fed new content. A typical day is updating Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the 12 other platforms we service. We are mailing out posters and CD’s and writing emails to countless people we think may be in a position to help us. We are strategizing, outlining, assigning tasks to each other, bookkeeping, selling merchandise and panicking about it all at the same time. In-between that, we are rehearsing, enduring the ever-constant Nashville lung crud, making a record, editing a video and then at the last possible moment, loading the van and heading off to play a gig.
This is not meant to be a complaint blog, but it’s easy to see when in a list form, that being in an indie band can be more about the business than it is the music – even more so than if we were commercial label sellouts. Okay, I take the word “sellout” back. We all know that “sellout” is the word #indiebands use when we’re not the darlings the industry is interested in anymore. I know that our hard work now on building the band up and getting the new record out will lead to more and more opportunities to play our music, but I want it to happen faster. I want it to happen at least as fast as my hair is disappearing! Now that I think about it, I need it to happen even faster!
I look at other artists who have come before us and who have pulled off music careers throughout nearly every decade of their lives and that gives me hope and motivation to keep after it. However, the real reminder of why we work so hard to make music comes in those short stretches of 45 or 90-minute sets, in font of both hometown crowds and far away faces. No amount of social media, videos, CD’s or merchandise sales compare to the rush and confirmation of playing our music in front of people who want to hear it. I think we were all reminded of that this weekend. We took the show a couple of hours down the road to Monteagle and Jim Oliver’s Smokehouse. We have played there often and have finally built up a nice following. It’s always affirming to make live music. We played old songs and new songs, some of them just as we intended and others of them a little off-script. That’s the magic of playing live. You never know what’s going to happen during a song.
That night we struck up a fiddle tune (excessively fast – as usual) called “Salt Creek.” About midway through our (truck with no brakes, heading down a mountain pass) rendition of the song, our bass player pointed a young boy off the side of the stage with his ball cap and cowboy boots on, clogging for all he was worth. Taking a three-second break from my cramping fingers, I motioned him up to the stage. He ran up on stage with a big smile and never looked back. He danced for the next couple of minutes as if nothing else mattered. He grabbed the moment presented him and made the most of it. Music, never mind life in general, is all about moments, enjoying them and making the most of them. Oliver’s fast-flying, snub-nosed cowboy boots were at first glance, small – but they represented for me, and I think the rest of the band, mighty big shoes to fill.