We are going on tour! This will be our longest contiguous tour so far and I am so ready. We’ll be starting the journey in Northern NY and making our way down south, hitting Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, and going all the way down to Georgia. And the best part is that we’re co-headlining all shows with a fellow singer/songwriter who is truly a singular talent, Chelsea Williams. It is called… ‘The Lonely Hearts Tour.’
How did this happen? How does one book a tour? What will we travel in? How many days are we going to be on the road? Who’s going with us? Where will we sleep? I am here to answer all of these questions and more. This is the tour post. All questions will be answered (with a little help from Shawn who knows way more about how this happened than I do).
For the newcomers to the fray, I am the front woman of the indie pop/rock project Roan Yellowthorn. In the past year, we were signed to a record label and released our first full-length album, called Indigo. (Read all about how we did that here)
I write personal songs, play keyboard, and sing. My partner, Shawn (who I am also married to), plays drums, produces, coordinates most of our shows, promotional materials, media, and did a ton of work to bring this tour to fruition. I tried to get him to write this blog post but he declined, saying instead ‘you can quote me if you want.’ So here is a quote from Shawn:
“The key to successfully booking shows is a) finding the right person to contact for the venue and b) having the right pitch. Essentially, it comes down to marketing yourself to the right type of venue for what your show is. You don’t want to waste your time pitching to a place obviously out of your league and too big and, at the same time, you don’t want to travel somewhere where there’s going to be little or no audience who don’t care whether you’re there or not. You want to find the best venue with a good audience who’s expecting the kind of music that you play. If you pitch to a place that has mostly punk bands, the people are gonna expect a punk band. And we are not a punk band. You know what I’m sayin’?”Shawn Strack
That’s right. We are not a punk band.
Let me take you back to the beginning, when a Southern US tour was merely a twinkle in our eye. Back to the start.
Shawn is a teacher by day. One of the benefits to that is that he has lots of breaks and time off. Perfect second career for a musician. He has a 10-day break in February and a few months ago, we both started thinking that this could be a good window for us to play some far away shows. It started with the idea to play a show in Nashville. Then Shawn wondered if someone from our label wanted to jump in on a show with us. We love connecting with other musicians and that’s one of our favorite parts of being part of Blue Elan Records – everyone on the roster is so deeply talented. It’s such fertile ground for collaboration. And our team, and the label, in general, is a big fan of collaboration. So we put out the call and learned that Chelsea Williams was available and interested.
Shawn has done a lot of our booking and in the past year has secured us some really great shows including a tour last summer, a last-minute stint in LA a few months ago, and many NYC area dates. Our team wanted know: could we book a joint tour? The answer, of course, was ‘Yes!’
So the work began. First was the pitching. Lots of emails were sent. Lots of coordinating happened. Lots of research, routing, and mapping. I have no sense of direction so I was no help whatsoever in this part of the process.
Once we had an ‘anchor date,’ the rest of the shows and promotional stops fell into place from there. Our chief business officer, Mary, and our project manager Nicole (who is also a legit basketball STAR) put in a ton of work and untold hours coordinating with us,
venues, bookers, and everyone in between, and our PR powerhouse Melissa got us a really exciting slot at Woodsongs, a syndicated TV/radio show. Within a few weeks, the dates were set and we were ready to go.
Then came some other considerations. What vehicle would we drive? Would we bring our kids? And, Shawn’s most pressing concern: what outfits would we wear?
At the beginning, we thought an RV would make the most sense. I was really pushing for the RV because I had a romantic notion of RV travel. I imagined bonding, communing with nature, using the hashtag ‘vanlife,’ and wearing understated jewelry. Shawn imagined bad gas mileage, lack of seatbelts, and slow acceleration. So RV idea was relatively short-lived.
We ended up settling on a car rental. But not any car. A Chevy Suburban. We can’t sleep in it so we have to get hotels, but the savings inherent to this option (less gas and also lower rental rate with unlimited miles) leaves us with enough money left over for nightly hotels. Also showers. But I honestly rarely take showers so I don’t care too much about that. But you never know. It could happen. We (Shawn) also got some sweet RY decals to turn the monster vehicle into a bona fide tour bus. Known for it’s environmentally-damaging gas mileage, the Chevy Suburban actually has triple the gas efficiency of an RV and also has enough space for all of our equipment and entourage.
Speaking of entourage, here is who we will be traveling with: each other, our one-year-old child, our friend Matt who is a videographer, the host of one of my favorite shows and all-around cool guy (also a very talented musician), and our friend Kris who is kind, creative, and willing to act as babysitter and badass tattoo artist for our journey. I have to say, I am really looking forward to traveling in a group like this. I imagine it reaching the yearning I’ve long had to live communally. Seriously so excited.
All that’s left to do is: rehearse a lot, top off our merch, make a merch carrying/display case out of an old suitcase we have on hand (halfway done with that), pack it up with our Roan Yellowthorn shirts, sweet RY temporary tattoos, stickers, and CDs, order special Lonely Hearts Tour t-shirts, input the tour data onto tour websites, make Facebook events, make ‘day sheets’ for each day’s schedule, book hotels, make posters, send out posters, get press materials together, and make sure my and Shawn’s outfits match each day (just kidding on that one. Kind of.)
Seriously excited. And, hey, if you’re going to be in the area for any of our ‘Lonely Hearts Tour’ shows, come on down and say hi!