The tour is over.
Fifty-one dates/ two-and-a-half months…just like that.
I can’t believe there’s no airport to get to, van to climb in, hotel to check into, venue to set up in, sound check to do, show to play, fans to greet, gear to break down afterwards, van to climb back in back to the hotel to drop off my guitars, or city to explore where I can find a drink, talk to locals and smoke a cigar at the end of the night.
Glasgow. Edinburgh. Birmingham. Cardiff. London. Paris. Lyon. Dijon. Marseille. Rotterdam. Haarlem. Eindhoven. Leipzig. Cologne. Hamburg. Berlin. Munich. Vienna. Dubai. And many other places.
It was all awesome.
You always hear about how tough the road is for musicians and bands.
The grind and tedium of schlepping from one gig to the next night after night, packing and unpacking endlessly in one hotel after another, one city after another, missing family and friends back home, always dealing with strangers and — if you are touring in foreign countries — language and cultural challenges.
My perspective is different.
I love touring.
In fact, I thrive on it.
Yes, the experience of touring can be all of the above, but I find that meeting the challenges posed by touring as well as exploiting the opportunities it offers actually makes me stronger, builds self-confidence, improves my skills, expands my awareness and causes me to evolve spiritually.
I find the entire experience of touring to be energising and exciting.
How do I manage to always gain from it?
Because I love to learn, I love adventure and new experience, and I love to be challenged.
Touring always delivers in these areas.
Look at it this way.
When you travel you are continually confronted by new situations and the need to adapt to them.
Touring forces you to use skills you already have and develop new ones.
You must manage and master your time, your energy and your attitude.
You must strike a rhythm with everything you have to do every day and night, and maintain that rhythm consistently.
There is never enough free time, so you learn to make the most of limited windows of time.
As a result, you get more out of the time you spend.
Yes, stress, fatigue, exhaustion, loneliness, missing friends and family and the comforts of home all go along with touring, but those challenges pale in the light of the benefits I receive from it.
I guess I just see touring and travelling as overwhelmingly worth doing in the short time I am here on Earth.
In 2000 I wrote, in the booklet accompanying my cd Handwritten Notes, that the most valuable thing I had gained from the touring I had done up to that point was the realisation that we — people — are all the same, no matter what our race, colour, religion, politics, language, nationality or level of wealth.
Thirteen years later I continue to be struck by that truth every time I travel in other countries around the globe.
•increasing my knowledge and skills in the area of amplified sound.
•developing skills as a sideman and soloist on other peoples’ music.
•increasing my vocabulary and speaking skills in French and German.
•visiting art and history museums.
•taking many photographs and improving my photography skills.
•dining at restaurants offering regional and local food and wine.
•spending time in bars frequented by locals and getting to know them when possible.
•exploring (and photographing) the old sections of cities.
•sharing my photos and experiences on social networks.
•making new friends and fans.
A tour could be experienced as a music-related work activity (which it certainly is)…or it can be used as an opportunity for travel, adventure, learning, creativity, self-discovery, personal growth and making friends.
The latter is the way I choose see it. I cannot think of anything more valuable.