On the road? No thanks

I suspect I am not alone in routinely pondering a new lifestyle, a new place to live, a new job; especially so at this maudlin time of year. Even old dogs need a fresh bone from time to time.

Teetotalism and swimming daily would undoubtedly benefit my health, and I’ve long dreamt of living in continental Europe, where the weather and culture are hard to pick fault with. And work? I came to journalism late after bobbing about gladly but aimlessly in the ocean of bar work, playing music and touring with bands. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none.

Pubs have a tough time of it these days so a return to the licensed trade is a no-no, and fumbling with my ever-growing arsenal of guitars is something I do strictly on a not-for-profit basis. Tour management, though, keeps invading the misty glade of my mind, despite its myriad drawbacks.

The situation isn’t helped when associates from that chapter of my life arrive in town to play a show. Last week it was Mark Kozelek, who was playing Glasgow with his group Sun Kil Moon. Though now in his late 40s and settled down, when I shepherded his band Red House Painters through Europe at the turn of the century he had what you might call a roving eye. Women and music were his exclusive foci, which was exasperating and entertaining in equal measure.

Overall, the tour was a blast. I watched a wonderful band from the side of the stage every night as they played to devoted audiences in Spain, Portugal and Scandinavia; the Oresund bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo blew my mind; and a beguiling esprit de corps grew out of spending what felt like weeks of dead time travelling with kind, creative men who were like me – they would be returning to California to deliver pizzas, drive taxis and sell property to pay the rent. This was their annual holiday. Only Mark earned enough money from music to concentrate on it full time.

It was heartening to catch up with him backstage after a marathon set and find him in good form despite the circumstances. The previous evening they’d played a long show in Dublin and got to bed around 2am. Four hours later Mark emailed to say they were leaving for Glasgow. Then a skilled pilot lifted their plane above the pack of thoroughly hacked-off weather wolves circling Hibernia and Dalriada and deposited them in Scotland on arguably the worst day of the year. Talk about exhausting.

Tour management? I think I’ll pass.

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.

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