Hi from Raleigh, everyone. We're in between shows (had a matinee at 2 PM today that went very well) and I'm hanging out in my hotel room at the moment. As our year is rapidly coming to an end, I wanted to take some time while we're still on the road to give you a glimpse into how we've been doing lately. "Exhausted" probably sums it up, but who knows, maybe another adjective will come forth by the time I'm done writing...
With home so close on the horizon, it can be easy at this point in the tour to lose sight of the impact and importance of the work we have left to do. Someone said backstage the other day - I can't remember if it was Randawg or DR - that we still have 12,000 people to sing for before going home. 12,000! That's a lot of people to say the least, many of whom will be seeing us live for the first time. Every night we are reminded - in spite of the collective road-induced weariness we feel - how special each concert may be for our audiences (e.g. the young man who told us proudly this afternoon that we were his first concert ever, the family who drove 3 hours to catch the concert because our concert is their new Christmas tradition, the Mom who took her two (musically-inclined) sons to see us for their Christmas present, the proud grandmother who sat next to her daughter and granddaughter in the audience...the list goes on and on and on).
At a certain point on every long tour, the different cities and venues we visit begin to blur into one general experience. I just read that and it sounds a little blunt, but it's true. You get off the bus, instinctively find your way to the dressing rooms (and catering...), throw your bag down, go to sound check, do your own thing for awhile, and then sing the same songs you've sung a hundred times over. The monotony of this schedule - coupled with the amount of time spent away from our loved ones and comforts of our own homes - can truly tax the soul, let alone the body. Plainly put, touring's tough on all of us.
BUT, once we're onstage - like we'll be again in an hour or so from now - that fades away for two hours. At this point on tour, believe it or not, the show keeps us sane. The laughs we share onstage (often at each other's expense) keep us energized, as do the smiles that we see in the audience. At risk of sounding overly philosophical, our show is just as much as an escape for us from the monotony of the road and constant dull sense of homesickness (to me, at least) as it is a fun retreat from the craziness of the Holidays for the hundreds of families, new friends, old friends, couples on their first date, couples on their 25th anniversary, etc. who call themselves our fans. The fact that we get to call this our job continues to amaze me.
Furthermore, it boggles my mind that we've sung for over a hundred thousand people in the past three months! I don't even know how many people we sang for in Atlantic City or on tour in the Spring, but I'm sure it's a fair amount. Three years ago, I was substitute teaching with a hazy idea of what I really wanted to do professionally floating in my head (it wasn't that fun, in retrospect), teaching the occasional guitar or voice lesson (that was!), getting emails from Randy about the exponential amount of hits the 12 Days video was getting on YouTube. Frankly, I was growing weary of the updates after the fifth email from The Randawg. Until, that is, I got a message from him telling me that I had to call him back "right away" (something about the group getting back together...). Flash forward three years and here we are. Time flies when you're doing what you love, I guess.
Doing what we love comes with a cost for each of us, though (emotionally speaking, that is). It's always hard to be away from home; for everyone involved, not just us. I'm always reminded, though, that we don't have it that tough at all in comparison to many folks out there who are out of work, have family members serving overseas for months on end, or are fighting private battles of their own of health issues and hardship. Tonight, 45 minutes before our show, I'm grateful for this opportunity, for the finish line that is being home with our loved ones being well in sight, and for how sweet it will be to wrap this tour up with my 9 closest guys over the next week. Wish us luck, continue to send your prayers and encouragement for safe travels and healthy voices, and feel free to sing along if you're at a show.
Just not too loud ;)
Time for me to get back to the venue! Thanks for stopping by.