I’m a good ol’ southern girl, but I spent years away from West Tennessee. I learned along my travels that Jackson is the best place to call home. Don’t believe me? Follow me on my journey this fall throughout the USA and Canada as I chronicle my tour, opening of my off-Broadway show, and why I’m missing Jackson.
Yesterday I was driving to Tucson, Arizona, where you find those purple mountains majesty from "America The Beautiful" and funny border control checks. Today is a travel day, and we’re bound for Salt Lake City, surrounded by the seven men I’m traveling with who have headphones and are watching a movie or making music or trying to sleep. Each of is doing our own thing to pass the time on these long drives. Here’s a brief recap of the last thirteen days.
Saturday October 10th, Josh (my guitarist) and I left New York City and headed to Portland, Oregon. We played an awesome set as a guest on a PRI show called Live Wire that is recorded in front of a live studio audience. It airs Saturday, October 24th. Sunday means a day off in Portland, complete with lots of coffee and dinner with my beautiful cousin Kaity and her wonderful husband Bobby. Bobby draws a hilarious cartoon of my show entitled “Thongbird”. I giggle through dinner.
Monday the tour begins. I meet The Griswolds, the band from Australia that Josh and I are traveling with over the next seven weeks, and am reunited with my fellow label mates New Politics for our first show of tour. The Portland show is a blast, and we have our sound mixed by a guy named Rumble (who I swear was a pirate).
Tuesday we head to Seattle. Before sound check I do an interview with a woman named Heather who is definitely in my top five of favorite interviews I’ve ever done. Seattle show is a success despite a few technical difficulties that do not stop Josh and I from rocking our socks off. Try to sleep even though my body clock is screwed from still being on East Coast time.
Wake up and drive three hours to Vancouver. Deal with Canada Border crap, and we're off to sound check. Do the show, make some new friends and fans, and then (before heading to our hotel for the night) devour delicious and unhealthy poutine.
Next is a travel day. We stay the night somewhere on the Oregon/California border and take Chris (lead singer from The Griswolds) bowling for his birthday. (Fun!)
Friday the 16th we arrive in Oakland, California, where we are playing at the gorgeous and newly remodeled Fox Theater. What was once an old, fancy Cinema is now an Art Deco masterpiece. The show is a success, and I get to spend time with an old friend Keeley who is now based in the Bay Area.
Then the big fun Los Angeles show comes on Saturday! My manager J.D. is there, which always makes me feel comforted. I also find comfort in seeing my friends Stamm and Kendra sitting in the balcony, as well as my friend Morgan—one of my favorite female artists. (She goes by the name White Sea.) A fan gives me a vintage Hello Kitty card game set from her childhood. I ask her about ten times if she’s sure she wants to give it to me, but she insists, and I happily receive the gift. I have a few drinks with friends post-show. It’s wonderful!
Sunday we head to the beautiful beach town of Ventura, which is a little more than an hour north of L.A. Play a show in the spooky but spectacular Majestic Theater and meet some amazing fans who give me sweet gifts and notes. I'm blown away and humbled by God’s ability to keep surprising me with affirmations that I’m doing the right things with my life.
Monday, which marks a drama-free first week with our new Griswold family, is a drive day to San Diego so they can play a show at UCSD. We spend our day eating at a funny, little, local Mexican spot in Old Town San Diego called La Piñata and are served by a sweet woman who I wish I could put in my pocket and take with us! Then we spend the rest of the day at UCSD watching our new music friends do their thing at the college.
Tuesday brings early phone calls from New York about changes happening to Songbird before previews begin that evening. Go back to bed after phone calls end for a few hours. Wake up again. Go to the beach in Coronado with the gold-dusted water. Get all beachy and then head to downtown San Diego for our show at the House of Blues. Have a blast on stage. Share with the audience that I officially have a musical running in NYC. I feel completely unstoppable and wish that I could bottle the feeling for the hard days.
Tucson was Wednesday’s goal for another show on the Wilderness/Politics tour. People sing along to my songs with me in Tucson. Things are getting surreal. God is continually humbling me and amazing me.
And now it’s Thursday, and I can hardly believe thirteen days have passed so quickly. I know the next thirteen will go even faster. Tomorrow we play Salt Lake City, and then I get on a red eye flight to New York City to finally see my show Songbird! I’ve been doing double duty with a three-hour time difference, trying not to lose my mind from being away from my cast and creative team.
Being a touring artist is interesting. If you’re not the one doing it, it looks very different from the outside. All the tour buses and backstage passes and free booze and whatever other B.S. you might think happens daily to us on the road. But what is rarely talked about is the utter exhaustion that you feel from the daily hustle, 'cause it’s so not rock-and-roll to talk about being freaking tired or homesick as hell. But the reality is that we are people doing our jobs, too. Jobs that require us to take care of ourselves so we can perform six shows a week. Jobs where we talk and interact with people almost every minute of the day. Sometimes when traveling together people don’t get along at all, and that’s super difficult. Some days you just need to have a good, healthy cry, and you have to find a corner to do that in where no one is going to find you—and that winds up being the women’s bathroom in the venue, and you hide in the stall. For those of us who get to do this for a living we have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into when we first begin. And then once we learn how hard it is we don’t care, and we keep doing it anyway because we love it. You cannot do this job without loving every aspect of it, and that includes the ugly part of road life.
To me it’s all worth it in the end because I get to sing with and to people every night, connecting most of the time with complete strangers through music that is bonding us together forever. Music is that thing that floats around in the air like dust and wind—unexplained but understood. It was the first thing that made me believe there was a God when I was a child, and being able to daily use my voice and use the talents He has given me is the greatest gift.
Read more of Lauren's "Missing Jackson" series.
Lauren Pritchard, also known as LOLO, is a Jackson native. She originated the role of Ilse in the eight-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, and she is the composer and lyricist of the new country/folk musical, Songbird. You can find her new EP, the Comeback Queen EP, on iTunes (released by DCD2 Records), and you can catch her on the #WildernessPolitics tour this fall in the USA and Canada. For more information on her shenanigans, visit her website.
Photography provided Lauren Pritchard.