I had an album coming out in France but no label to support it. I also had no booking agent working on my behalf. That summer, my only remaining grandmother was turning 97. I thought it was time to do things differently.
I booked myself a string of shows in my home region, the Western side of the French Pyrénées, a hundred kilometers inland from the Basque country, a region I left when I was a teenager to settle in the American West. This was a time when I questioned very much every step of my music career. I was fed up with touring the usual way. One city a night, lots of driving, hotel rooms and little energy left to connect with anyone I’d meet on the way. After the shows, I’d head straight for my room and sleep through to the next night. I’m sure I missed lots of wonderful European sceneries and as many roadside meals with that attitude.
Without a label and a professional booking agency, I was free to choose how to tour. No one breathing down my neck. The expectations were low in terms of sales but high in term of personal fulfillment. I was going to tour my home region and only my home region — remember my Grandma was still around but not for long, we all thought! My home region, a distant memory by then and, one more thing I missed a lot on tour, I would walk it. Each day, I’d walk to the next town and play a show. October on the Pyrénées trails?! Hello! The Compostelle trails!? Hell, yes!
But what to do with my gear? Well, of course, I’d rent a donkey!
And so I resolved to make myself happy on a tour doing the two things I love most: singing and walking. Once I had made up my mind to find what it was I needed to make me happy, it was all a matter of finding the donkey. That was the easy part. No one taught me how to lead it. It’s like driving. You can never take your eyes of the donkey or he strays and beelines to the next blade of grass, of which there were many on those bucolic paths!
It was the most pleasant tour I’ve ever done. And the joy in my Grandmother’s eyes as I showed up with pictures after pictures and articles after articles in the regional and national press about my “exploits”! That was worth the 8-hour daily walks!
So my advice: Make it your own, whatever it is. Own your needs and your joy.