At ages 22 and 23, our band from college, Bockman’s Euphio, was doing so well we all quit our jobs and decided to go on tour. A couple years in, our manager called a meeting and told us to bring our parents – we thought, “This is going to be either really good or really bad.” He told us we were $50,000 in debt. We weren’t making much money, living off credit cards, paying people to do things we could have done ourselves, paying rent on a band house – all those mistakes you make at that age. Those guys from college, we still write and record together.
There’s no handbook on how to make a living playing music. I learned you just have to work really hard. There’re no sick days. I work all day every day, lots of projects, and play on average five nights a week. Falling Fences, our Americana Rock band, has had a weekly gig at an Irish pub here in St. Louis for eight years. Then there’s Schwag, a Dead tribute band that does 3-4 and 8-10 day tours, which is the way bands are doing it now. Hat Trick is my bluegrass band. Sean Cannon’s Voodoo Players plays every Wednesday night at the Broadway Oyster Bar; we do a different tribute every week, like Paul Simon one week and the next we did the Allman Brothers. We put five or six guys together and learn the songs. We write and record and we’re producing an internet TV music show, the Woodshed, where we have different players doing original music.
You have to work your butt off and make yourself applicable to many things and places. I had to teach myself to play all kinds of music, and during the day I’m on social media promoting. There are a lot of things you can do yourself to help your career, like instead of hiring a media company we started our own. I see it as having to adapt and wear many hats, otherwise you’re pigeon-holing yourself, and making a living that way is like winning the lottery.