Author: Evans, Bill

Life as a Professional Musician

Thanks for taking a few minutes to read my debut Welcome Column. When Rick Cornish mentioned that he needed to fill this last available slot, I volunteered in the hope that I could hopefully contribute something moderately interesting about my life as a professional musician based in northern California. Well, now that it?s time to actually write something, I realize that this isn?t as easy as it seemed it would be when I accepted this job! But thanks Rick for giving me this opportunity.

It?s totally appropriate that I?m writing this first Welcome Column as I?m on my way to a gig. I?ll be driving with friends early tomorrow morning from Bellingham, Washington to teach at the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop in Sorrento, about six hours north and just a bit east of Vancouver. I?m writing this on Saturday night as this might be the last time that I have a reliable wireless connection before heading into Canada ? yet another interesting aspect of life on the road ? and I want to make sure that I meet my deadline on this first attempt.

I?ll be seeing more than a few familiar faces in Sorrento ? Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozum, Ivan Rosenberg, Janet Beazley and Chris Stuart will be there, among others and, of course, my performing partner Megan Lynch. Knowing other teachers at an event like this brings a certain comfort level to the entire week and it also really helps to make the faculty concerts go well but it?s also great fun to meet new players, to see a different part of the world and get the chance to share my enthusiasm for the banjo and for music with a new batch of students.

Camps can be exhausting events for teachers and students alike ? we?re all going at full speed from the moment we see each other at breakfast at 8:30 a.m. until we hit the sack, sometimes way after midnight. I often don?t realize how tired I am after a camp or a tour until a couple of days after I?m home again ? it takes a while for the adrenaline to stop running and it?s at that moment you realize just how exhausted you are.

But the reality for most musicians that I know is that life doesn?t stop when you get home from being on the road. It?s when you arrive home that the REAL work begins. There?s a pile of mail on the desk (including a lot of bills), a bunch of unanswered phone messages, and laundry waiting your attention. But even more importantly, it?s time to catch up with the family, spend some real quality time with your significant other, walk the dog, change the kitty litter, help with homework, change the oil in the car and pay some attention to all of the other household chores that you haven?t been around to do for the last week or two.

Also while you?re home, you?re also working on the business end of music ? a job that never seems to be done. In most cases, between trips I catch up on teaching my private students and spend hours upon hours on the phone and typing emails helping to book future gigs, arranging travel plans and making sure that the shows that are booked stand a good chance of being successful. Oh yes, there?s also practicing and writing the occasional original tune!

And pretty soon, it?s time to leave again.

It?s a juggling act that requires the support of an entire family to make work. Perhaps I?ve been able to do this so long because while I always look forward to heading out on the road again, I?m always incredibly happy to be back home in the Bay Area, which always seems to be the best place in the world when that plane touches down again in Oakland at the end of every tour.
Posted:  8/28/2009

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