Pictures and thoughts from a Memphis Musician's Wife

Posts tagged ‘road trip’

Florida Road Trip: Part 2 Getting to Florida

So, from the pictures you can see that the ride through Arkansas, Louisiana, and into Mississippi was pretty smooth. I made good time, got to see a beautiful sunrise over huge crops of corn and peppers, and Jeremy got some rest in. Soon after we got into Mississippi, we were going to have to stop for gas and switch out driving.

As I was pulling off the road to refill on gas, I heard a clanking noise. We were right by a construction site, so I thought it was all of the machinery until I rolled my window down and heard the noise was coming from under my hood. Jeremy thought the oil was low, so he added a little in, overfilling it enough to make my car start smoking on top of everything. We were now riding down Highway 49 in Richland, MS with a smoking, rattling car. We pulled off on a small country road, thinking we would just empty a little of the oil out. Of course, we didn’t have a wrench to undo the oil plug and let some of the oil drain off. After 5 or 6 cars passed by, asking us did we need a phone or any help, an older black gentleman in an old truck pulling a trailer of tree limbs drove up. He looked like one of those old men you see in the pictures drinking moonshine and playing his guitar to his dog, and he had almost no voice to speak. Jeremy asked him if he had a wrench, and he just happened too. He pulled his truck off to the side of the road, and while Jeremy let the oil drain into a bottle, the old man directed traffic, waving at everyone as they drove by. It was like a scene out of a movie. He walked over and warned Jeremy not to let too much oil out because he was on a hill. As he was walking off, I hear Jeremy scream. The oil plug slipped all the way out, and all of the oil was leaking out now. All I can do at this point is grab every bottle we have laying in the car and try to salvage as much oil as possible. Jeremy got the plug back on the oil tank, and I carefully put all of the oil we had (about 1 qt.) back in the car. The old man told us how to get to the nearest gas station, and followed us to the main road. The car stopped smoking, but it was still making that horrible noise. On top of that, I noticed that one of my belts was almost shredded to pieces.

I looked up the nearest AutoZone, which was a mere 4 miles away. I turned and headed down the highway, but we ran into an O’Reilly Auto Parts first, so I stopped there, thinking that they would probably be helpful. I got the oil, and walked up to the counter to wait on Jeremy. Once the guys figured out which belt I needed to replace, Jeremy and the customer rep came back in to finish ringing us up. We needed a new power steering belt, which we got, but the worker told us he didn’t know how to put it on. Just my luck, right? He referred us to his coworker, who came and took a look under the hood. He told us that he didn’t have the tool to remove the bolt and replace the power steering belt, and with a closer look he showed us why our car was clanking: the top ac pulley bolt fell off. The pulley and belt fell off, as well. The pulley got lodged between the power steering and the bottom ac pulley, and the guy said he didn’t know what to do. He sent us up the road to a mechanic, not knowing if the mechanic would be open since it was Saturday. I am really spoiled living in a city where mechanics are readily available any day of the week.

We drove on up the road, clanking as we rode the speed limit. We pulled into the mechanic’s and, of course, they were closed. Jeremy popped the hood, determined to get the pulley out. With a few strategic moves with a crow bar, we finally dislodged the pulley. The noise stopped, and we headed to AutoZone, hoping the shredded power steering belt would make it.

We pulled into AutoZone and asked for a tool that we could use to change the power steering belt. The gentleman inside was much more helpful than the guys at AutoZone. He told us how to change the belt and informed us that the ac belt was what was missing. So, now we were going to be without ac all the way to Florida, and we were almost 5 hours out with 5 hours to make it to the gig. Off down Highway 49 we went, on the way to Florida, praying we would make it on time.

The ride through Arkansas, Louisiana, and into Mississippi

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Florida Road Trip: Part 1

They say that to be a successful musician, you must travel. Well, Jeremy has been travelling quite a bit this year. This past weekend was no exception. He was scheduled to play in Little Rock, AR with the Ghost Town Blues Band on Friday night. This was going to be two gigs, one from 9 PM – 12 AM at Cajun’s Wharf and the other from 1 AM – 4:30 AM at Midtown Billiards. Then we were supposed to drive the 2 hours back to Memphis, and Jeremy was going to ride 8 hours with Darren Jay and the Delta Souls to Pensacola Beach, FL for a two day gig at Paradise Bar and Grill/Inn. Simple enough, right? Nothing is ever that simple in my life. LOL. Friday rolled around, and I was contacted just before we had to leave for Little Rock. Of course, the bass player for the FL gig got sick and couldn’t make it. Not only that, but the equipment trailer that was supposed to come in for the trip didn’t make it in time, so Jeremy was going to have to drive as if he wanted to make the gig. Well, this was the predicament: I was not prepared for a trip to FL, and I would HAVE to be there to help drive if Jeremy really wanted to go to FL because we would be driving from Little Rock to Pensacola after doing 8 hours worth of gigs the night before. I explained the situation, and Darren said they would give up the hotel room for us if I came. So, there I was packing for a road trip I was not expecting to go on.

We left at 4:45 Pm, just the two of us in our little Honda Civic. We had all of his equipment and one suitcase for the two of us. After all, this was going to be a short trip. Even though we left early, the rest of the band didn’t leave until an hour after we did. We made good time and made it to Cajun’s Wharf almost two hours before the gig. I couldn’t believe it, actually. We were ahead of schedule for something. I was hoping the rest of the trip went this smooth. The rest of GTBB arrived about an hour and a half later, quickly unloaded and started their gig. Things seemed to go smooth, but I should’ve known this was too good to be true. As we were breaking down the equipment at the end of the first gig, the sound man dropped a mic stand on Suavo’s trombone and bent the slide. Of course, this is his last working trombone, and nobody offered to pay for it. We finished packing up, everyone talking about how much the trombone situation sucked.

We arrived at Midtown Billiards around 1, and we got set up pretty quickly. While I was waiting on the guys to do sound check and start, I got super tired. I knew that if I was going to make any type of a drive toward FL, that I would have to get some sleep, so I crashed out in the car behind the venue. Jeremy woke me up as he was finishing loading his equipment into the car after the gig. It was time to head for FL. We filled up for gas and agreed that I would take the first leg of the trip so Jeremy could get some rest. So we were off, headed a little over 9 hours south through Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to Pensacola Beach, FL. 

Exhaustion

Many people think that it is a great and easy life to be a working musician. They think that all musicians get paid $100 or more every time they play. Being the wife of a musician has shown me so much. 

When I met Jeremy, the only gigs he played were for tips. There were always good days and bad days, of course. It is near impossible to prove income with a job where you get paid cash on a consistent basis, so many people did not respect what he did because it was not a “real job.” Honestly, those people are stupid. Jeremy uses a skill that he has practiced and developed for 14 years to provide entertainment to the masses that come to hear the Blues on Beale Street and throughout the country. He works pretty much 7 days a week, sometimes up to 12 hours a day trying to earn a living. It’s funny that people want to come hear the music on Beale, but sometimes it seems as if it is hard to get even a $1 tip from most people. Last Thursday, my husband played for 4 hours and made only $5. This is not just something he does for fun. This is how he takes care of his family. Many of the bars don’t guarantee any money, and it is usually no more than $200, so the musicians really depend on merchandise sales and tips to actually make the gig profitable. Why is it that music is in such high demand, but people don’t see a reason to support local musicians who are not travelling the world and superstars? It is hard to comprehend how people go on vacation or come to Memphis on business amd come to Beale Street looking for a unique sound but would rather spend $40 on a 100 oz drink rather than tip the band providing their entertainment $1. It is truly crazy watching how things progress. 

You would also think that travelling would pay more than staying at home. Not really. Most places don’t pay a whole lot more than here when you factor in travelling expenses. Don’t think that just because a band travels they are rich. That is not the case. Most times they come back with the same amount they would have made here without travelling. It’s also exhausting and makes a person with a family miss out on things much more valuable than money, like family and sleep. 

My husband just got back from two days on the road. He drove 12 hours overnight to make it to church this morning to play. Then rehearsal right after church. He is in bed exhausted from a three day whirlwind. Is it worth it? I guess we will see in the future. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.

The Road

The Road can be a hard thing to deal with. Being away from your husband for any extended length of time can be difficult, but it is even harder when you work together and spend pretty much all of your time together.

When I started dating Jeremy, he performed every day. I can hardly remember one off day (they are still few and far between). I’d just moved back home, leaving a bad situation to start all over again. We spent every moment we had together. I learned quickly how to set his equipment up, not that it was very hard (he had a 63 key keyboard then). As I attended more and more of his gigs, I kind of took on the role of band mom. I would play the role of waitress, merch sales lady, sound tech, roadie, and so much more. I did this everywhere I went with Jeremy, and with every band, as he played with several. We didn’t have a car, so we were limited to riding on the bus with his equipment, sometimes having to walk home if we could not get a ride or have money for a cab home. Fortunately, we lived only 2 miles from Beale Street. This went on for about two years, with Jeremy eventually graduating to an 88 key keyboard. Needless to say, our bond became very tight. We were best friends, marriage partners, business partners, and parents. We still are.

Things changed, though. We were blessed with a vehicle, which opened us up to being able to play with different and better bands. They travel. They actually guarantee a pay (lol). Jeremy was blessed with much better equipment, which of course is heavier and more difficult to move. So, I am still there (as long as “Mommy” duty doesn’t require me to be away). It feels so awkward when I am not there. He has gone on the road, for the second time (only a two day trip), with a band that I very actively assist when I am around them. However, I was not invited on either of their road trips, which is understandable. (I don’t want anyone too take this as me being hurt or mad or anything about me not going on the road with them.) Some people like to tell me to get a life, that my life should not revolve around my husband and my family. Well, what else should it consist of? My husband is a performer. I am a business manager and promotions and marketing specialist. We work together. Our finances are one. Our business is one. Our lives are one. That’s just us. So, when we are apart, it is like a piece of me is missing. I don’t hear music the same when I don’t hear him. The road is lonely for both of us. True enough, I get time to myself and to take care of business I probably would not get done when he is here. I get to go to picnics with old friends and spend some time with family I don’t always get to see. I like it, but it is hard and makes me feel like I am living a dream when he is here. I am glad I get to go on the next road trip with him, but I won’t be happy when the time comes for him to be gone for long periods of time. I just hope that by then we can actually travel together as a family. Image

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