My life changed with a phone call around 7:15AM on July 29, 2013. I was walking to my “day job” in midtown Manhattan when my phone rang. I assumed it would be a telemarketer, but I answered anyway.
On the other side of the line was a friendly woman speaking English with a German accent, calling regarding my submission to the Songs & Whispers tour in Germany. She said their company really liked the songs off my EP West for a While and would like to offer me a slot on their circuit for a three week tour through northern Germany. Whoa.
I had been working as an administrative professional in New York City for the past three years, and when I wasn’t doing that, I was singing at open mics, taking voice and guitar lessons, writing songs, and recording. My toe was in the water of a music career, but my full time job kept my lower east side rent paid and groceries in my fridge. Subconsciously I must have been looking for a change, because I kind of carelessly applied to this tour in Germany with a couple of clicks on a music submission site. I didn’t think I would get chosen. I had never been to Germany, except for a day trip to Munich during my study abroad. I definitely did not speak German. The idea of my first real music tour experience being in a foreign country was terrifying and totally enticing at the same time.
As soon as I hung up the phone, I was racking my brain on how I could go and make this work. After some research and a little soul searching, I made a quiet plan to do the tour and committed to Songs & Whispers. I picked the brains of my friends who were seasoned tour veterans, and I invited friends along for the adventure, truly having no idea how it would all play out. I told myself, if this is sketchy or doesn’t work out, I’ll just backpack around Europe for a few weeks. The people running the tour were strangers until I met them on January 3rd, and they, along with my tour mates, became fast friends and remain dear friends to this day.
That first European tour changed my little life. I sang my songs in front of audiences night after night for 6 weeks. After many shows with 4 people in the audience and late open mic nights in NYC, I was playing to full, quiet rooms. Listeners on this tour were into my music and my performances, and the tip buckets (‘der hut,’ the hat passed at the German shows) reflected that success. I thought, “Wait. I can do this. I can DO this! and people like it!” I found my purpose. Making music, writing songs, and making connections with people who wanted to hear those songs, with the hope of putting a little good into the world. Boom. That’s what I am supposed to do with my life.
Executing the tour, and the tours I have planned and gone on since then, have been extremely empowering and a whole lot of fun. I drove on the autobahn at 170 km/hr. I saw castles in Ireland. I played at a farm where I met an emu named Emile. I fell a little bit in love (with Emile the Emu, obviously).
It was not without fumbles. Literally, my tourmates took my song “Spin” and wrote a parody chorus of “I spill, and spill. Crash and I knock it down.” Let’s just say, I’m lucky to have a pretty singing voice because I am otherwise…not so graceful. I spill and drop everything. (You can hear the actual lyrics of the song here, to get the idea.)
I experienced a lot of mini-failures, which I now see as moments of growth. One slight “failure” happened when I forgot to follow up on a car rental issue, and I ended up having to rent a really expensive car because it was the only automatic one they had available on such short notice. (Note to self: learn to drive stick shift at some point in life.) So on our indie tour where we were staying on friends’ couches to cut costs and busking to afford the falafel that we ate for every meal, we were rolling in a brand new BMW. It was comical, but also very comfy for those long drives, and after the initial shock of it, I was able to laugh it off and speed up on the autobahn again.
Since that first tour, I hit the ground running, booking indie tours as much as possible. The shows have been rewarding and fruitful, and the friends I have made along the way feel as close to me as my best friends who live down the street in NYC. Traveling feels familiar, crossing oceans doesn’t seem as daunting. Going to a country where I don’t speak the language is exciting, like an opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn about a life that is different than the one I’ve known.
Indie touring is also a revelation in the generous spirit of people. I had so much help from my musician friends who had toured in the past. They set me up with their friends and gave great advice that has shaped how I am able to do this successfully now. I have slept on a lot of couches, and had great conversation at so many kitchen tables. One audience member made us tour cookies! People are kind and so giving, and that has been a true source of inspiration for me.
So, now to the reason for this introduction. I am inviting you to come on my next tour with me. This September, I will go back to Europe to promote my latest album, Spin, and I will share some stories with Quarterlette along the way. I have shows booked in Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. I am excited to return to Europe and look forward to sharing the journey with you!
Until the next post, you can learn more about me and my music at caitlinmahoney.com. When you sign up for my mailing list, you get a free song download along with some very pink e-mails.