Since summer is a hot time for touring, we decided to launch a summer tour series on the Berklee Blogs! In our first post, Devon Yesberger of the Yesberger Band talks about his experience booking his tour for summer 2012!
It has been a year since The Yesberger Band last hit the road on the West Coast, but that doesn’t mean this summer will be any less of a surprise. With new and different opportunities come unfamiliar territories, unexpected obstacles, and ambitious goals that continue to push the threshold of what is reasonable. Not to say we’re solving the world’s problems here, but booking an indie tour can definitely sink the glasses low on the nose, when night after night is spent sifting through the personal novels written by frustrated booking agents (who apparently would rather not hear from anyone) just to ignore their discouragement in search of their email address so you can send them unsolicited material anyway. Despite constant outreach, my frequent visits to our online email database were more often than not met with the unimpressive array of past rejections or missed deadlines, with unread emails in bold print arriving once in a blue moon. Booking sucks.
Though it’s an experience I don’t expect to understand in this lifetime, it seems to me booking a tour is a lot like giving birth. It begins as a forward thinking smile; the mere knowledge that a miracle on some level is taking shape, but remains undefined in nearly every aspect. It takes months to form, and loosely follows a timeline, but even if you’re a seasoned mother, you can’t go along drawing expectations just because you’ve already had a kid. We spent months in lingering uncertainty before passing our first checkpoint when a basic tour window began to form, even though we still had loads of un-booked gigs to fill the empty stomach in the middle. Hell, we still don’t even know what vehicle we’ll be driving from Seattle to Los Angeles when we’ll only have 36 hours to make the 22 hour trip. We burned that bridge last summer, by letting the engine of my dad’s family van run too low on oil, deeming it a white behemoth suitable only for local trips.
Of course mothers and bandleaders alike know it doesn’t get any easier after the first trimester, which for us was a time frame bookended by our shows at the Bite of Seattle and the San Jose Jazz Festival. But just like the sleepless nights and relentless kicks of motherhood, the weeks that followed were quite often made sleepless either by painful anticipation or tough decisions. It would be unnatural for each and every gig to be followed by a day of rest and travel – instead the calendar that begins to take shape resembles the bald head of a newborn, with patches of dense hair offset by great empty plains – 6 or even 7 gigs in a row followed by 5 days off, for example. Travel from Seattle to LA would sensibly take place over the course of a week, but due to an imperfect schedule (albeit filled with great gigs that make the trip worth it), we had to take whatever we could get which meant a sweet jazz club in Seattle on a Wednesday and a more contemporary club in Los Angeles on the following Friday. Then, when the invitations finally started rolling in, following months of being ignored, we often had to pick and choose between two great spots despite the fact that every other day of the week was begging for a gig. This is the bittersweet reality of booking, but no matter what, we’re always thankful.
There comes a point in the booking process when there’s no turning back, when the due date seems to be approaching way too fast and the tour undoubtedly begins to resemble a living being. It reaches out from the calendar we’ve spent months staring at, and it takes hold of our conscience and says “This better be good!” Suddenly, you realize that even though the gigs are booked and the flights are reserved, the real work has only just begun. Plagued by questions such as “How are you going to get people out to your shows? Two shows in Los Angeles? Are you insane???” and “Do you even know anyone in Santa Cruz?” we go to bed at night praying for friends, family and fans to supplement the otherwise empty venues, just as an expectant mother longs for a healthy baby. And here we are less than a month away from our first gig on the West Coast and we’re feeding the beast with a diet of documents and dedication – scouring lists of friends and family in each city, and frantically sending out radio promotion packages, press kits, posters, and contracts, hoping for the best. There’s a music video in the works, a single being mixed, and a t-shirt being drawn up. We’re even drafting a new fourth member for most of our West Coast dates! It’s exciting stuff, but the real satisfaction will not come until we can watch our baby smile at the scenic wallpaper of the West Coast, play safely with toy cars, sing songs with an audience of bright smiling faces, and learn what it’s like to grow up and chase a dream in this world.
It’s a few weeks away and the size of this undertaking is finally starting to turn heads. People are talking, listening, and most importantly, sharing these dates with their friends who just might enjoy a night out with The Yesberger Band. I write this as we make the 18-hour trek back to Boston from the final gig of our East Coast tour in Michigan, eager to get home to Seattle to relax and prep for the West. I’d like to take this final paragraph as a chance to say thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way. Thank you to Giorgia Renosto, our manager, who has generously offered her time to help tackle the logistical nightmare that is booking. Thank you to the Berklee College of Music for their continued support of student bands. Thank you to Spencer and Gabe for locking out their calendars months in advance despite empty promises that there would be gigs. And thank YOU for entertaining my giant metaphor, for listening to The Yesberger Band, and for hopefully planning on attending a West Coast date or at least telling a friend. We can’t do this without you! So please, head on over to www.yesberger.com to listen to The Bad Weather EP, watch some videos (new one out soon), and check out this summer’s busy schedule.
For more information on summer shows visit www.yesberger.com.
Sunday, July 22nd – The Bite of Seattle
Thursday, July 26th – The Blue Horse Gallery, Bellingham, WA
Friday, July 27th – Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church, Edmonds, WA
Saturday, July 28th – Ivories Jazz Club, Portland, OR
Sunday, July 29th – Hermann’s Jazz Club, Victoria, BC (still pending)
Wednesday, August 1st – Bake’s Place, Bellevue, WA
Friday, August 2rd – Room 5 Lounge – Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, August 7th – The Blue Whale – Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, August 9th – Kuumbwa Jazz Center – Santa Cruz, CA
Friday, August 10th – San Jose Jazz Festival – San Jose, CA
Saturday, August 11th – San Jose Jazz Festival – San Jose, CA
Devon is the lead singer of The Yesberger Band, a pop/jazz trio from the Berklee College of Music making waves in the live music scene. He’ll be writing two more posts during tour and one as a followup.