Monday, March 14, 2016

Wilderness Hymnal Tour

No one has written a manual about how to be an independent songwriter and performer.

After tour is over, lights are out, and everyone's gone home, I've got to ask myself what's next. Not an unusual question to entertain an anxious mind. There are only normalcies, traditions, guesses, and philosophical hypotheses to keep us afloat. As long as I can remember, there has been a knowledge that I am already doing what I want to be doing. It's just that I want to be doing it more, on a larger scale, in a way that is prolific and long lasting. I don't want to be stuck in a five-year trendy rut of musical fashion.

(photo by Molly Hurlburt, Indianapolis, IN)

Tour began officially on Friday, March 4 in Indianapolis in a children's worship room of a church, amidst a leading art gallery in the city called The Harrison Center for the Arts. I was joined by a couple of my good friends on percussion and piano and it's been almost a year since I played with a band, so it was magical. My wife and I left the following Monday morning toward Lexington where I played my first show on the main leg of the tour at a bar. We went to Chattanooga the next day, Knoxville on Thursday, and Louisville, KY on Friday. Every city presented uniquely different audiences, idiosyncratic musical challenges, new and old friends, and held different strengths, but were met with a collective unforgettable love. Every night we slept at friends' houses and were encouraged by people feeling encouragement through the music.

I played more shows in a week than I normally would in two months, so it was a challenge of longevity and consistency. It was tough to focus on the show itself where there was so much to do behind the scenes, so there was much to learn. I didn't really feel the fatigue until the final night of tour and it officially caught up with me on Sunday with a fifty pound headache, aching joints, and a fever.

(photo by Katie Wadley, Lexington, KY)

My expectations for this album have been exceeded in almost every way, and in others, because my expectations may have been more or less dreamy, I've been shown reality. I know logically I'm not going to sell millions of copies of this record and I'm not going to be able to go on a national or world tour with it any time soon. I'm not going to be able to market this like a super star in any sort of way. Promoting music is super damn hard, especially in 2016. On tour, I didn't sell nearly as many records as I expected and I have had to come to grips with it in a way that is entirely short of graceful on my part.

Every night I gave out everything. I attempted to give an abbreviated notation for each song before I played it as well as lock in to every word and every note like it was my last. Amidst all this, we loaded in, met everyone, set up the merch table, lit the merch table, unloaded instruments, tuned instruments, found water, met more people, met the opening bands, saw friends for the first time in years, ate food we packed ourselves, hugged, played for an hour and a half, hastily packed up, met more people, sold a few CDs, waited and talked with folks until everyone was gone, loaded up the car, took a deep breath, drove to wherever we were staying, crashed into bed, woke up to a couple hours of silence, got back on the road, and did it all again. It was beautifully exhilarating; it was wholly exhausting.

(photo by Chris Pickering, Chattanooga, TN)

"Are you proud of me? Did I do okay?"
"Of course I'm proud of you."
"Really?"

Those words happened nearly every night between me and my wife on tour, whether in my head on out loud. I've been learning that I have to draw my worth as an artist not from applause, album sales, or even the praise of my wife. I believe I need to and can only draw what will fill the emptiness in my heart from my Creator. If I did not believe (by a thread, no more) that the God of the universe loves me and is orchestrating all of time and space to meet my needs and steer my existence into his loving embrace, then today would be super miserable. I've always said I don't know where the music will go, but I know Who leads me. That has gotten super real lately.

(photo by Katie Wadley, Louisville, TN)

The following months hold my interest and keep me from dwelling on the magnitude or futility of my success. I'm playing two Indianapolis festivals for the first time, both of which I didn't dream of playing in years. I have a record now that I am wholly proud of and am not afraid to show to festival or radio music selectors or any sort of person I could ever hope to impress. "Wilderness Hymnal" is by far my best work to date as a whole and even after playing a handful of shows with these songs live so far, I am thrilled to see where they will go and what they will mean to listeners (and to myself) in the future.

(photo by Katie Wadley, Louisville, KY)

If you happen to be in anywhere similar to the same place I am, I encourage you to keep going. Be completely and unabashedly yourself, and look boldly into in the past, present, and future without fear, but in knowledge that you are loved and are worth listening to.

If you haven't heard "Wilderness Hymnal" yet, be sure to go to:brandonwadley.bandcamp.com and let your ears be comforted by another human's messy encouragement.

Thank you so much for making this tour so good! If you'd like to set up a show,contact me here!

Happy Tuesday!

Love, Brandon

No comments:

Post a Comment