The average day on this spring tour has worked like this:
Drive to Somewhere, USA, and find the motel. If you are lucky, get into bed early enough to get a few hours’ sleep before getting up at five a.m. to drive a little more and load into a high school. Play. Speak. Take questions (be blown away by the things students are facing and how strong they are to bounce back). Sign. Reload the gear. Eat breakfast/lunch after the show at three or four p.m. Look through messages/emails/texts/social media sites as we spend the rest of the day in the truck, and it all starts again.
Something as small as packing properly can make the difference between smiling and screaming. When the pack is wrong, the day is wrong.
I take two bags with me everywhere I go. A suitcase and a backpack. The suitcase goes into the hotel for the overnight, and the backpack goes everywhere 100 percent of the time. When there is extra time in a city, I might take in my favorite guitar in the world (shown in photo), lovingly called “Django.” This was my first acoustic guitar, a $90 Yamaha classical purchased at Starkey Music in Wichita, Kansas, many moons ago.
My backpack is an Ogio Renegade. It was well over $100 and worth every penny twice over. I don’t read reviews or shop for hours for things, but I spent some real time getting the right backpack, and it has paid off every hour. Every compartment serves a purpose.
In the Backpack
- Blank pages. A journal. I used to use 99-cent comp books, but now I buy $20 Moleskines from Target. I’m paraphrasing the amazing Jim Rohn here—yeah, it’s not cheap, but I got a lot more than $20 worth of ideas in here. I want it to be nice and to last. In the back of each journal is my discipline chart (covered here: http://goodingmusic.com/blog/the-discipline/).
- EpiPen and Benadryl tabs. So the ideas are the most important thing to me, but a close second is DON’T DIE. 🙂 I have some crazy allergies, so I keep the cures close at hand.
- A paperback book. I try to read a book per week and usually half of another book through Audible in my headphones while we drive. When I get someplace without a book, it drives me nuts. Reading and writing have opened up as many doors for me as spending my entire childhood trying to get those six strings to vibrate properly.
- The best headphones I can find. Not only is music my therapy and I want it to sound just right, but I mix a lot of records when the band isn’t on the road and hearing things properly is worth the investment. I know that Apple Beats are bass heavy, but I’m used to what they do, and I love them. The pair I have from a few years back are almost worn to bits, so I’m about to check out the Solo3 wireless. For calls I keep a set of Apple white basic earbuds (old tins of Burt’s Bees make perfect carrying cases).
- An eye mask and earplugs. A nap here and there can make all the difference in the world. Foggy mind equals foggy decisions and crabby musicians.
- Black pens and one highlighter. I love Pilot 6 G-2 (.10). I’m a lefty who smears what I write, and these stick to the page well, especially on quality paper like in a Moleskine. If ink is going down on the page, it’s a good day. It means there is time to think and I’m not just answering questions or putting out fires. The backpack, of course, has the perfect pockets for these suckers.
- A good water bottle. If you sing or talk a lot, you can take all the supplements and throat sprays and other hocus-pocus you want. But if you ain’t sleeping and drinking water, you ain’t gonna have a voice for long. (See Roger Love’s Set Your Voice Free for more.)
- Computer/adaptor. I have a Mac laptop from a few years back. I have spilled coffee onto it. I have blown out the delete key ’cause I’m a terrible typist. I have replaced the springs to keep the screen from shaking too much after its being on a hundred drives. I dream of the day it actually gives out so I can buy something tiny and light. That being said, IT SUCKS there are no more DVD drives because when we tour places like North Dakota and Wyoming, it might be God’s country, but apparently God don’t want you streaming. There is very little cell service. Having a DVD in the truck to watch when we are on a 300-mile drive through nowhere land is a great escape.
- My phone (iPhone 6—old but getting it done), an adaptor, and a huge battery pack to recharge.
- Tour postcards and stickers. Promo to give to people whom I tell about the band and the charity (which is, for better or worse, about every stranger I meet). And I have to say, many of these conversations lead to something, whether it be me learning something from them, a new friend of the band, and as recently as last night, a possible new sponsor for our charity, Funding the Future.
In the Suitcase
- Two pairs of jeans (one I’m wearing, one for when I spill something, which happens more often than it should).
- Seven days of one-color shirts with no logos on them.
- Seven days of clean black socks (God do I love the feeling of clean socks. At home, I spray some Body Shop peppermint on these suckers—but we can’t carry those kinds of luxuries out here on the road when we are loading our own bags).
- Swimsuit and flip-flops (for hot tub magic!!).
- Sweats for workouts (nothing feels worse than going to the gym, and nothing feels better than leaving the gym—thankfully, the latter is the stronger feeling).
- Random stuff people give me that I want to take home to the studio.
- Workout gloves (yeah, I know they look totally brofest-awful, but I have a ton of callouses on my hands, and this helps with push-ups and pull-ups).
- Bath Bag (nonanimal- tested stuff everywhere possible and just the basics—shave kit, toothbrush, etc.).
- Tiny Cooler.
Inside the Suitcase’s Tiny Cooler
- Protein powders (I’m veggie, and while I believe there is a myth about how much protein we have to get, it helps to have some handy in case I have to skip breakfast or lunch).
- Supergreens and Silver. Besides keeping a workout regimen and learning to say no to people who drain me, nothing has kept me from getting sick better than taking Greens—and anytime I feel a cold coming on, Silver. I hardly EVER get sick now, and when I first starting touring many moons ago, I got sick all the damn time.
- Builder Bars and That’s It bars. Perfect amount of carbs, proteins, and fats to be able to skip a meal and still be full.
Bonus Round: Overseas Pack Notes
- Weird adaptors for your electrical stuff.
- Back up and jailbreak your phone! (Thanks, Billy Driver.)
- Sim card. Calling cards so you don’t lose your wife in the time zones and sleep deprivation.
- MINI pedals in pedalboard bag.
- Tons of small merch.
- Audiobooks loaded up for 20-hour flights.
- Get your merch shirts made over there—too costly to ship.
- Our amazing UK tour manager Dean Van Jones still has two used Fender Deluxes that we bought instead of renting for when we get back across the pond. Taking gear over is insane, and if you are gonna go many times, buy, don’t rent (Jackie Chan, baby).
- Warm and cold clothes (it rains every six minutes in the UK).
Bonus Round: In the Bus
- Backup paperback books and journals.
- Notes and art the fans give us, pix of loved ones/old postcards on the wall of my bunk.
- Extra guitar pedals (OK, now everything I said about scaling down gets thrown out the window). 🙂 I have shrunk my pedalboard down from a double-decker all-pinewood monstrosity (that I miss badly) to a lightweight and small cloth-covered little miracle.
Thanks for joining me here for road dog mania. See you next Weds!
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