for the Touring Musician
by Nathan Amundson & Brian John Mitchell
OK, so your friends or favorite band are on tour... You want to go to the show & maybe bring something nice for them. Here are some ideas.... This also doubles as a sort of packing list if you yourself are going on tour.…
Clothing: Socks (black with gold toes are nice) & underwear especially. There’s never time to do laundry on tour, so we appreciate clean clothes. Play it safe and go black. Black t-shirts (touring is messy) and layerable sweaters or hoodies are great too. If you can show up at soundcheck to pick up a load of laundry to drop off at show time, you will be treated like the saint you are.
Febreze: The clothes worn on tour & the vehicle start to smell like the floor of a bar after a couple days, with Febreze it can last a few extra days.
Sharpie Marker: Easily lost & desperately needed for signing items like CDs & body parts.
Small Notebook: We always need to take down email addresses or directions or write thank you notes, but there’s never any paper around.
Ear Plugs: Some progressive clubs will provide these, but that’s rare, it’s always nice to have a stash.
Hand Sanitizer: You know, the gel stuff with tons of alcohol in it to kill germs. Venues never have soap, or clean soap. Hand sanitizer keeps us healthy.
Wet-Dry Napkins: Staying clean & presentable when you don’t have regular access to running water can be hard, so these things help.
Scarves & Hats (winter): These are lost all the time. Any new reinforcements are greatly appreciated. Obviously this is more of a winter request...
Sunscreen (summer): Even in the van for 8 hours, getting to the next show, you can get an awful lot of sun exposure through the windows.
Sunglasses: Also constantly lost. Help us look cool and we’ll remember you every time we put them on.
Throat Coat Tea by Traditional Medicinals: Sorry to be a brand whore, but this stuff saves voices. The regular kind, not the echinacea stuff. Never enough...
Fisherman’s Friend: Harder to find lately in the states, but these cough drops help with singing & screaming in a bar setting.
Vitamins: Preferably a chewable or powder kind a’la Emergen-C. Eating well on tour is a secondary concern, this stuff helps cover the basics.
Airborne: We’re exposed to tons of different disease strains than we’re used to, so anything to boost the immune system is appreciated.
Water: Really never enough!
Forget alcoholic drinks. They can generally, copiously, be had at
the bar and backstage. Your touring friends should be drinking at
least 2 liters of water every day. This is called “recovery water”.
Recovery from the smoke, the sweat
Food: Fresh, local fruits and vegetables rock worlds. Touring is an endless procession of fast food, bread, cheese, & cucumbers. A simple orange or apple is an act of love.
Nail Clippers: Toenail clippers, actually. They cut fingernails with less clips and can double as guitar string cutters.
Q-tips: Being in loud clubs every night seems to encourage wax production somehow. Yeah, it’s gross, but who else but you is going to come through on this?
Razors: Not the cut-yr-wrist kind, the refill kind. Of course this means you know what kind of razor they use; but if you do, it will be appreciated. You can always buy a couple disposables.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste & Floss: Shit gets lost and there’s not always time to go to the drugstore.
Listerine: Even with the toothbrush, there’s not always a sink. Listerine works anywhere.
Visine / Clear Eyes etc.: Also in line with above. There’s no sleep on tour, and people look wrecked. Help us out.
Batteries: Aside from world-blocking discmans, etc, most effect pedals and outboard equipment run on batteries. These are expensive, and again, it’s often an emergency situation before we remember to pick them up. AA’s and 9 volts make the show happen.
Music: Every night there’s another band to play and trade music with, but it’s your personal mixes and recommendations that mean the most.
Bottle Opener: You’d be shocked the amount of venues that don’t have bottle openers for the imported & micro-brew beers we like.
Multi-Tool: Easily left at a club, so we may need a new pliers-wire-cutter-screwdriver-pocket-knife.
Mini-Flashlight: You know, like those ones on a key chain? Always useful.
Reading Material: Short fun stuff is nice to fill the time. Magazines (even the local weekly) are good or short story collections.
Pocket Games: With all the spare time we have, a pocket chess or suduko or puzzle book is a great way for us to kill fifteen minutes without wondering why the heck we’re on the road in the first place.
Photographs: Take pictures of us & send them to us. We generally have little memory of the whirlwind blur of tour life & the photos help put things in place a few weeks later.
A City Map: If you can send a map showing places of interest near the club (e.g. restaurants, museums, bars, laundramats, record stores, musical instrument stores) before we even go on tour, it makes your city feel more like home.
A Place to Sleep: Now don’t take this the wrong way, but we want to stay at your house because it’s free & we’re poor; not because you’re so sweet & sexy (though you surely are).
Physical Contact: Above all, ground someone.
Put your arms around them. Give them a hug. It’s a crazy, ridiculous
lifestyle, touring is, and feeling home makes all the difference in the