We left San Diego in the early afternoon to head to my Friday night gig in Santa Ana. Because we’re in California now, a drive that would have taken 90 minutes, took us three hours. Luckily, we planned for this, so we arrived at Gypsy Den (the venue where I was performing) with plenty of time.
Gypsy Den is a very funky, eclectic restaurant specializing in vegetarian food. We had a delicious dinner, and then I set up shop. Unfortunately, I’m not the most tech savvy when it comes to sound equipment (or anything technology-related in general…), and one of the speakers kept cutting out. The sound for the whole performance was a bit off, but the people who were there were very nice, clapping after every song, which is something that doesn’t always occur in a restaurant setting.
The last few shows have been a little bit rough. From Albuquerque, to San Diego, to Phoenix, to Santa Ana, I think I made maybe $160 the last two weeks. I am not writing this to have a pity party for myself. There have been many lucrative gigs on the road and many pleasant surprises. People have been incredibly generous, and I am forever grateful that I am able to do what I’m doing right now. I write about this because a musician’s struggle is entirely real. I’m pretty sure when you reach the level of Beyonce, your money troubles disappear. But for the majority of us musicians, money will always be something we are worried about. I don’t think this really hit me until these past few weeks, in part because I have really been lucking out for the majority of the shows I’ve been playing.
Kristina ends her time with me on the road on March 10th, when we’ll be back in Austin for SXSW. Until very recently, it’s been in my head that that’s when this “fantasy life” ends for me, too. Luckily and unluckily for me, this road continues for who the hell knows how long. My initial plan was to move to Nashville after SXSW was over. But now I have myself booked across the country all the way into the summer and am currently working on bulking up my overseas calendar with some dates in Israel tentatively scheduled for May and June. I will be in Germany for all of August and September, which leaves me essentially homeless until at least October.
I’m not really sure when to get out of the car. And the flood of advice I receive (which I am always thankful for) pulls me in all sorts of directions. For now, I am sticking on the only path I am capable of creating for myself. I will be living gig by gig, CD sale by CD sale until something or someone gives me a reason to live differently. And that’s scary. Yes it is also exciting to be “young” and “free” and “passionate” and “a traveler,” but it’s taking a whole lot of chances on something that really has no guarantee to pay off. Kristina may be second guessing when we go to a nice LA dinner to treat ourselves, thinking about the money she’s spending these past few months and the money she’s not making. But her uncertainty ends soon when she steps back into the “real world,” (I hate that term, by the way), and likely pursues a path with more economic security and certainty. But this is my life now, which is going to be something that is hard to adjust to. And no one, not even Beyonce, can answer my question — “How long is the road?”
Thank you SO much to everyone who has come out and supported me at my shows these last few months. Friends, family, strangers – you have allowed me to continue living as a musician, something that I now recognize is not so easy to do. I don’t know how long the road is, and I’m not even sure if I know what the destination is. I just know that I am happy to be having the journey. Here’s to hoping it leads me to wherever it is I’m supposed to be.