In September when I packed up all of my things and started my fall journey I had no idea what to really expect. Not because I hadn’t toured before or worked before, but because this time was different. Working two full-time jobs simultaneously is not my norm, and it felt like I was possibly biting off more than I could chew. But I had to trust that God was not giving me more than He thought I would be able to handle. So off I went to New York City to begin putting Songbird on stage. After a few weeks of that I boarded another plane and kicked off the Wilderness/Politics Tour, and another transformative experience began.
Touring is a strange and beautiful thing. You leave all comforts and normalcy of everyday life and routine to hit the pavement in an attempt to connect with audiences on the road. You’re in a new city every day with new faces around you in each venue you visit. On top of that you’re traveling as a group with various bands and crew members all working together to “make the donuts” and make it look seamless and easy.
Sometimes you’re lucky enough to tour with people you’ve worked with before, but you’re always making new friends on the road. You spend anywhere from three months to a year and a half on the road with each other, depending on your album cycle, and whether you like it or not you become family. These are the people that see you at every stage of your day, start to finish. They see you at your best and definitely at your worst, 'cause after enough time has gone by it becomes hard to hide your feelings on the road. The loneliness is real, the tiredness is real, and the hangovers are real.
The Wilderness/Politics Tour for me was a combination of new friends and old friends. It was one of those special tours you get to be a part of where everyone actually gets along and wants to be around each other. Saying goodbye at our last show at the Fillmore in Philadelphia was hard, but it’s always hard. You get so comfortable being in the rhythm of tour, moving as a group, always knowing where you’re going, on a schedule. Eat, perform, sleep, repeat. Our last night we finished the show with all of the bands and artists on stage singing together to one of Andrew McMahon’s songs “La La Lie” while jumping on his piano and sharing champagne.
The Wilderness/Politics Tour came to an end, and I immediately returned to New York City to be present for the final week of my musical Songbird. It felt amazing to be reunited with my beautiful cast who helped change my life and bring my music to life. Our final show on Sunday, December 6, was one of the most memorable days I will ever have in my life. I got to be backstage with my cast and sing the ensemble numbers with them, which was so much fun. I got to play Bananagrams with them at intermission. After their final curtain call, I joined them on stage, guitar in hand, and played a song with them—all of us together, celebrating for one more time the show and story that brought us together.
I know that I still haven’t totally processed everything that has happened to me in the last eleven weeks. Being on tour I was able to see audiences respond to the songs I’ve written. They know the words to my songs! It’s so overwhelming in a good way! My show became a New York Times Critics’ Pick (cue me crying)! We also got beautiful reviews of Songbird (one more reason I believe that there is a God and that He is alive). They even did a feature on me in the New York Times (what were they thinking?!)! Miracles have been happening around me every day! I got to perform in the legendary Beacon Theater in New York City and share the stage with some amazing artists and bands: Fall Out Boy, Elle King, Sara Bareilles, and George Ezra. I sang the national anthem at the Brooklyn Nets game on December 1. Miracles! But I’m trying not to question things too much these days, I’m just trying to enjoy it as it happens and be thankful that it is happening. I’ve always believed that hard work pays off, but it’s great to be validated in that from time to time.
Next week I’ll be returning home for Christmas. I’ll be able to sleep. I’ll be able to see my family. I’ll be able to see my kitty cat. I’m gonna sing in a Christmas concert at the New Southern on December 22 with my sweet friend Bo Kitzman and a few others who are joining us. And I’m going to celebrate making it through what were absolutely the biggest tasks I’ve ever had to tackle.
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.
Header image provided by Lauren Pritchard.