When I was a little kid, my dad was a working musician playing most nights in smoky country Honky Tonks for line dancers. I saw firsthand how much hard work goes into music, with often very little return. Instead of seeking another avenue in life, I jumped right in as soon as I was old enough. Since then I’ve recorded and toured with several bands and am constantly seeking gratification through music. Where does this gratification come from, given the constant hardships encountered?

You are in your mid-twenties and you are on the road…
BUZZZ BUZZZZ! You poke your head out of the sleeping bag to discover your cell phone vibrating; it’s already 5:30am. Most of your three hour “sleep” was spent wrestling with your host’s Labrador on the living room’s shag carpet; apparently he isn’t into sharing his floor.

sleepingbag.jpgYou step outside into the icy autumn. Let’s make sure the van starts up. Today we’re expecting an 8-10 hour drive to Laramie. For some reason the club manager insists that the band arrives at 4:30pm despite the 8pm doors. You decide to take the first shift at the wheel. Very generous; the rest of the band is still sleepwalking.
Everyone is a little concerned that the band fund won’t cover the gas for this drive, but this gig has potential. Gary from Bitty Tone Records started following the band on Twitter two months ago and he lives in Laramie. A quick coffee and gas stop by the freeway and you are on your way.
You’ve made it.
Tonight, after driving over 500 miles you’ll load about 300 pounds of equipment up a spiral staircase and then spend about six hours killing time before playing.
The set was cut short and Gary was a no show. You were fortunate enough to meet a really sweet couple that was willing to put us up for the night. You’ll send them a postcard from Florida three weeks later.
You’ve just experienced a day on the road.
Despite the monotonous work and financial burdens, you may continue and repeat this same process over and over for years. What is it that motivates you to continue being a “musician” when it can seem that playing music is a small percentage of the work?
In this column I hope to gain some perspective on what drives musicians to do what they do. All musicians, on the road or not, put a lot of muscle, sweat, time, concentration and extremely repetitive work into their projects. I’d love to hear from a wide range of experiences on this topic.
By looking across genre, success levels, age and culture at the work that goes into music, maybe we can learn something that heightens our appreciation. What is it that keeps musicians making music? This answer is likely unique and very precious to each of us.

And the band plays on…
(Listener Advocate)


  1. maquiberryuk
    December 10, 2009 at 9:26pm
    Hi, You are true. Music is a sole world and entering into the world is something great. You and your dad is so lucky.
  2. Aaron
    December 15, 2009 at 10:42am
    My newest blog, complete with Christmas music ideas: (Look here for future posts on the topic I began here.)
  3. Appetite Suppressants
    December 15, 2009 at 10:42am
    Great read! It really remember me on my young days, we experienced similar stories..:)
  4. parrot pictures
    December 16, 2009 at 9:30am
    yeah...i think what makes musician keep making music is they LOVE music. But every musicians have different reasons (just like you have said). Monotonous routine absolutely able to give boring feel...i felt it too...
  5. Eric Marrs
    December 16, 2009 at 1:59pm
    In high school I started runnin with some older guys who happened to play guitars. We would hang out and there would often be several guitars/players around. The music they produced was beautiful, and I wanted to be a part of the chemistry that was clearly circulating amongst the musicians. I started playing religiously seven years ago. I sometimes question the price of being a musician, but when I'm on that stage and everything is grooving there is no better feeling. You are in, you are necessary, you are creating. Sometimes I'm surprised that the sounds coming from my amp are made by me. Music feels good, and when you see a stranger in the crowd that's totally emersed in your music you feel like a king. Besides, having worked in a cubicle, traveling around the country with your friends isn't all that bad.
  6. Deni
    January 07, 2010 at 7:16pm
    Really liked this piece- brought back memories of back in the sixties when I was on the road plenty with my "mates". Thanks for the great mood.
  7. Lil Winterling
    January 17, 2010 at 11:23pm
    I am a music lover from way back in the 50's and I had my chance by way of a talent show in my high school days. From there I went to Baily Hall at Cornell University. I was 17 yrs old. I got a call from Nashville,Tenn a week later. Needless to say my parents said NO. Broke my heart. To this day, I still wonder where I would have been if they had just taken me there for a day or so. All I can say is,take your music wherever you can. You never know who may be listening and watching. It will come to you with maybe one Song or even a good tape you make. Music is the most wonderful thing God has ever given us and your time will come be it here or there. It will come and I wish you the luck I could have had. Sheba
  8. amitycarol76
    January 20, 2010 at 6:49pm
    You are a very good descriptive writer. Think about it while you are wasting time before gigs. I know what you mean... I grew up with similar ideas stuck... So be wonderful and enjoy the trip(s).
  9. Kimberly Prescott
    January 21, 2010 at 6:53am
    Thanks so much for the post. Really brought back the peaceful memories from way back when. Post more stuff! I liked your writing as much as I liked the music. Definitely have a talent for this kind of thing :) My favorite Reference and Entertainment Site

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