Column: Driver picks the music, and other road rules

Everyone has rules on a road trip.

But when your road trip lasts for weeks or even months, the rules become more specific. Add in the pressure of performing every night, and it becomes time to lay down the law.

Touring bands have to live with the same few people (and all their stuff) for weeks. There have to be rules, or everyone will kill one another.

Over the weekend, a list called “How to Tour in a Band or Whatever” circulated the web. (Read it here.) The author? Thor Harris.

Harris, who looks like his namesake, knows the road well as a percussionist for Shearwater and having toured with Bill Callahan, Devendra Banhart and numerous others.

His list is funny. And good.

Among the rules he listed:

»Remember the sound man’s name. He will do a better job.
»Driver picks the music.
»Fast food is poison.
»The guest list is for friends, family and people you want to fuck … Everyone else can pay. They have day jobs.

The rest of the (expletive-filled) list is right-on, which is why it made the rounds.

But it’s short. There are only 21 rules, so I consulted with several local folks who have been known to hit the road from time to time.

Only a few chimed in, but here’s what they had to add:

From Anniversaire:
»Bring your own listening material!
»Don’t do a cover of the band you’re opening for.

From Little Brazil:
»Chinese food is never a good idea.
»There is no room for Deli Express sandwiches on the food pyramid.
»Febreeze. (See above.)
»Do purchase granddaddy’s road sodas for long treks through the backcountry (i.e. beer for driving through the western half of Montana).
»Toilet paper: When nature calls and bathroom attendants are on strike, it’s up to you to provide for the family.

From Tim Wildsmith:
»Some bodily functions are unavoidable. But please, roll down your window.

* * *

Got more??? Tour rules is going to become a standing feature on this blog. I’ll be asking about them from local folks and touring musicians whenever I can and adding them to a page on the blog.

If you’re in a band, drop a line to kevin.coffey@owh.com with any rules you have.

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