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Summer is a little different for a professional musician
Our own Andrew Leahey is learning to deal with the constant challenges that come with having your own band.
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SUMMER IS COMING to Nashville.
The college kids at Vanderbilt and Belmont universities are wrapping up their spring classes. Outside, the temperatures are climbing into the 90s. My teacher friends have started talking about summer break with all the wide-eyed excitement of the students in their classes.
For most of the city's musicians, though, summertime isn't really a vacation. It's touring season.
My Nashville friends have been making big plans. Some are heading overseas to tour through Europe, where the kind of music that most of us perform--folk, Americana, alt-country and roots-rock--has been brought back into the mainstream by bands like Mumford & Sons. Others have landed solid gigs on the U.S. festival circuit, meaning they'll be playing to several thousand campers at events like Bonnaroo and the Hangout Music Festival.
I've been working on the summer schedule for my own band, Andrew Leahey & the Homestead. Some weeks are still fairly empty. Others are filled with recording sessions and shows, including a headlining performance at Cafe Wha?--the New York City folk venue where Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen once cut their teeth--and a small Southeastern tour with Goldrush, a great rock band from Richmond.
Even after seven months in Nashville, this whole thing still feels like a big juggling act. I have two versions of the Homestead--one in Tennessee, the other in Virginia--and both lineups are subject to constant revision. Since most of my band members have wives and full-time jobs, they can't do every show I throw their way.
I tend to get very attached to the musicians who play with me, but being the frontman of a band like the Homestead has taught me to be flexible. Five different drummers and three pedal steel guitarists have cycled through our ranks during the past half-year. If I took the time to add up all the musicians who've played in this band, the number would probably be in the low 20s.
Sometimes, that sort of flexibility can really pay off. When we traveled to Austin earlier this year for the South By Southwest music festival, we wound up hiring a former member of Miranda Lambert's band to play with us. He's now our semi-manager, responsible for helping us out with booking, networking and endorsement deals.