AVT: 3h (110.5h)
ADT: 300 km (8,473 km)
“We did it … again.”
And then one day you’re not on tour anymore.
That’s what I said, right? There’s no anticipating the end of a tour like this. You don’t sit around thinking about it. You stay in the moment and every day is a road day until it isn’t anymore. That’s the nature of the beast. Sitting here now at my dining room table, sipping fresh coffee and watching my cats chase a chipmunk on the other side of the window, I know the tour is over.
As Sarah said, we did it.
There’s such a thing as a post-tour comedown, you know. It happens to a lot of people, especially after those marathon tours where you’re on a bus with the same crew for six months or a year. You live in this weird, suspended-yet-accelerated animation and then all of a sudden it’s over and all of those people who were your life are just … gone.
A lot of musicians get depressed when the tour ends. And if you’re a side player like me, it’s pretty easy to panic if you don’t have anything else waiting for you on the horizon. It’s important to keep busy in those circumstances. It’s important to have something to throw yourself into. The first day back tends to be about resuming normalcy – unpacking, doing laundry, cleaning yourself up, restoring equilibrium. I went for a little walk around my neighbourhood this morning just to move my legs and clear my head. The leaves are all yellow and they were drifting to the ground like rain and I felt like I was in one of those magical Chinese movies. The fresh air felt nice after ten hours of fuselage breathing yesterday.
The trip home.
I don’t need to tell you it was a long day and not really worth writing about. We got up at 6:30 a.m. for a quick hotel breakfast in Hoornsterzwaag before we drove the hour and a half to Joost’s place to return the rental gear. Then it was another hour and a half to the van rental depot to drop off the tour van. Then it was checking in at the airport and waiting around to board the first flight (an obligation made much more pleasant by the unexpected presence of our friend Angie from Austria, who as also there waiting for her flight home).
Then it was a 40-minute flight to Frankfurt. Then it was a scramble to catch our connection to Toronto. Then it was over eight hours across the Atlantic. Then it was arrival at Pearson and another two hours on the highway. We got home at about midnight local time, which I believe is 5:00 a.m. Amsterdam time, which means it was a long, long day. But that’s okay. The arms we miss were waiting for us at the end of it all.
And now here we are in this sudden silence. I live too much in my own head and when the first silence descends after a tour I tend to get reflective. That can be a dicey proposition for me. I don’t mind telling you that this tour was difficult for me at times mentally. Specifically, I struggled mentally with my playing. More specifically, I struggled mentally with my perception of my playing.
Now, by many accounts I played better than I ever have on this tour. Measured against my previous work that might be true, but measured against the standards I’m setting for myself, it was sometimes frustrating. I listen to some of the videos that are floating around from this tour and I cringe. There’s a level I want to be at as a player – a level I think I need to be at to be able to keep doing this – and I know I’m not there.
Those thoughts can really take something out of you on the road when you’re tired and are the kind of self-critic that I am. There were days on this tour when I was lost in that headspace and had to fight pretty hard to stay level. I don’t think I’m unique in this area. I think a lot of performers have problems with self-doubt and negative thoughts. You need to learn to deal with that constructively if you’re going to get anywhere in this game. In my case, that meant focusing harder on my playing, experimenting with a metronome on stage, and trying to acknowledge when I played well.
Now that I’m home, it means putting nose to grindstone and doing the work, which is why I’ve already been behind the drum kit today and will be again later. I want to be worthy of the stages I imagine playing. When all is said and done, I want to know that I gave it the best I had, to whatever end.
We had a really fun tour. It’s a blur at the moment, but as the dust settles the memories will come back and I’ll smile. That first show in Leer, Germany feels like six months ago. We played some great ones between then and now. Castles. Pubs. Theatres. Beer tents. We had audiences everywhere we went and we were challenged – hard – to play to the rooms we were in a lot of the time. This was our third tour in Europe and each one has been better than the last. The venues keep getting better. The accommodations keep getting better. Slowly but surely, show by show, more people are being attracted to Sarah’s music and we definitely notice the growth happening. It’s exciting to watch.
I’ve written before about Sarah’s drive and work ethic. All of this is the product not only of incredible ambition, but of prolific effort on her part. She makes this happen. She takes the financial risk. She takes responsibility. She understands short-term sacrifice for long-term gain and her work is really paying off.
Man, most people have no idea how much goes into a tour like this. How much money. How many hours of planning. How many emails. How much coordination. How much driving (although my approximations will give you some idea). How much stress. It’s mind-blowing, but that’s Sarah. She might actually be crazy, but it’s crazy like a fox, and the universe pays attention to her kind of courage.
So I want to say thank you and congratulations to Sarah for pulling this off. Ken, Deni, and I certainly contribute, but this comes down to her and she has my purest admiration for what she’s been able to do. When I see the audiences – the fans who come from England and Germany and The Netherlands and Austria and Canada and everywhere – and watch them react to her, I’m still amazed. Growth happens when talent meets work ethic and she’s the living proof. I’m grateful to her as always for giving me the chance to be a part of it, just as I’m grateful to Ken and Deni for being such awesome roadmates. It wouldn’t be the same without them.
Nor would it be the same without all of the fans who come to so many shows and treat us so, so well. Again, I can’t name you all for fear of leaving someone out, but we appreciate all of you very much. Thank you for the cheers. For the hugs. For the gifts. For the photos. For the laughs. For singing along. For loading the gear. For telling your friends. For being the energy that drove us on so many nights. You’re the best.
I wish I had some nice pithy thing or clever anecdote with which to close this edition of the tour blog.
The first tour blog ended with a story about meeting Fred Eaglesmith at the airport in Amsterdam. Last year ended with one last lyrical and sentimental vignette for Sister Amy. This year I don’t have anything like that. I’ve done a loose calculation in my head and figure the three tour blogs together equal something close to a hundred thousand words of content. That’s more or less a novel. It’s the proof of what can accumulate with consistent effort over time. I think it’s a lesson for anyone who wants to accomplish anything, whether it’s writing a book or creating content or painting something or even improving foot speed on the kick pedal. Consistent effort over time.
I’ll be thinking about that when I practice today.
And now the end at last. Back to my woodshed. Back to my podcast. Back to the normal routine. I would love to end with some staggering burst of eloquence, but alas, words can fail at the worst time. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe I’ll let the images do the talking for a change. A few of my favourite “previously unreleased” images from the tour follow. What a strange and wonderful ride.
Thanks again for everything, gentle reader.
Bis zum nächsten mal ….