Things I have learned about packing for a tour:

While my day job is a songwriter here in Nashville, Tennessee, I have moonlighted as a touring musician for many years. First up was Pure Prairie League in the 80’s. Back then we traveled by covered wagon and sled, mostly. Good times. We lost a lot of good men along the way but they were mostly drummers so who cared?

Then it was Ringo. A man so famous that he only needed one name. His very close friends were allowed to simply call him “R.” I was asked to call him Mr. Starr. That tour was fairly posh. We were treated like fairly princesses. Forced to eat a macrobiotic diet on the entire tour, we all developed anemia; but on the plus side, we had no trouble fitting into our show clothes.

Then came Carole King’s “Living Room Tour.” Buses crisstophercrossing the country. Watching Will Ferrell movies and eating chocolate that tasted like ass. We would ride and sleep and be woken up at 4AM to stumble into hotels and fall into bed to sleep for five more hours. This cannot be healthy for humans.

Now I am part of Blue Sky Riders and we are opening for Kenny (Loggins) this summer. The first show looms and I must use my incredible skills at tour packing once again. A “super power” if you will. I think back on all the lessons learned and I collate them into a useful how-to for the young musician who will one day be watching me from the side of a stage wondering why someone that large is still wearing spandex.

1. No power tools. I know, I know…..the temptation to while away the hours in the hotel rooms with various woodworking projects is fierce but no number of bird cages or bookcases will fill the hole in your soul.

2. One pair of socks for every five days. I know Jerry Lewis throws his socks away after wearing them once….but he never had to wash clothes in the men’s room of a Mobil station. When meeting the public: on. All other times: off.

3. Pets in suitcases look good on paper. In reality they die. They are not as hardy as they seem. I had a cat once that made it as far as Kansas City but the outcome was the same. By then most of my clothes were either slashed or had a stink I could NOT get out.

4. Keep your drugs ON you. Suitcases sent to New York City have a way of ending up in New York City, MICHIGAN. When you need your ambien or your blood pressure medicine it will not be there. Of course I am talking about ambien and blood pressure medicine. My real drugs are carried by my personal assistant, Artie.

I hope this gets you started as a road warrior par excellence. Now the next time you stumble into a La Quinta (Spanish for “Behind Dennys”) you can proudly point to your ONE suitcase and say “Anyone got any shampoo?”

your friend,
Gary Rider