The Road Most Traveled kind of fell into my lap. I had no idea that it was coming out until the press release landed in my inbox. I am totally a nerd, so I was super excited that I had a book about music/punk/touring to review. I really do when my writing world and my music world collide.
Now, I will first say that I am not the intended audience for this book, it is aimed at those bands who are just starting out their lives on the road. It offers funny stories, warnings, and practical advice, for those bands, yet as a music fan, I loved reading every single story that was contained in these pages.
Compiled by legendary Chuck Ragan, these stories come from every possible element of life on the road, from musicians, bus drivers, sound techs, tour mangers, club owners, bookers, and even a yo-yo demonstrator. Contributors include Greg Anntonito of The Bouncing Souls, Al Barr of The Dropkick Murphy’s, Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners, Tim McIlrath of Rise Against, and Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem, just to name a few. Each offers a different approach, attitude, and lesson they learned from years on the road. From the simple “Be nice”, “if you don’t love it, don’t do it”, “be cool to people” to the importance of a good tour bus and bus driver.
There are some funny stories like Joe Gittleman’s warnings about dealing with bootleggers, fights, and why you don’t want to get arrested in Italy or the practical, line up a sober driver and always be weary of cops. But most of the advice touches on the heart of why someone tours. Nuno Pereira tells us, “Remember why it is you’re doing what you do” then proceeds to tell a personal story of a time when he forgot that and his band mates taught him that lesson. There are even several references to how cool Dave Grohl is.
I can note so many different stories or pieces of advice, but I just wanted to wet your whistle. I’ll leave with you with the most eloquent discussion of life on the road from Matthew Gere, “In the best moments, you are creating bright, beautiful destiny from one moment to the next…It is a job, a lifestyle, a way of seeing, a scar upon your interior, a vessel, the journey within the journey…The journey is not get in, get out, and get to the next town; the journey is learning how to make it through the day and on to the next, and making all the days connect into something worth being a part of.”
When it comes to books, I devour them just as I devour music, I received this book and read it in one day. Which I think is its strength, it is not trying to moralize, it is simply punk rock veterans passing on their knowledge. It can be picked up at any point and read in any order by band member or fan alike.