The concept behind The Road Most Traveled is wonderful in its simplicity, but nonetheless entertaining: a collection of mostly punk and indie musicians and behind the scenes folks (drivers, tour managers, booking agents, etc.) offering advice for surviving the road as a touring band (think smelly vans with rusted out holes in the floor and not top 40, we’ve-hit-it-big-time buses).
The collection, with contributions from more than 100 (including members of Gaslight Anthem, The Bouncing Souls, The Hold Steady, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and many, many more), kicks off nicely with an inspired forward by Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan recounting an exchange when his grandfather asked if he liked playing guitar. When he replied that, yes, he did, his grandfather followed up by saying “Well, you’re a damn fool if you ever put it down, don’t let anyone tell you any different.” Which essentially sums up the feelings of just about everyone involved in this book: times will likely be hard; you’ll go days without showering; and likely months without a proper bed; and money? You’re lucky to break even. But there you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in this book that isn’t doing exactly what they want to be doing.
Often funny, like Craig Jenkins’ entry (beginning and ending with the warning to avoid truck stop sushi) to surprisingly touching, the book is much more than sage advice to novice musicians, but a reminder to music fans everywhere of why your favorite bands spend all night driving, just to play that tiny venue in your hometown. So do ‘em a favor and buy a shirt, a CD, or even a copy of this book from the merch table, so they can get to the next town.
The Road Most Traveled by The Camaraderie Collective/Hardcover, 146 pages/Milner Crest Publishing/2012