Recap of the UTR Tour with Eric Peters
It started as an idea over beef sandwiches. It became an experiment. It ended as an epic adventure.
One of our missions is to find various ways to show support for artists that deserve more attention. We also want to foster a community of music lovers that are also patrons of good art. In that spirit, UTR developed and launched the "In Your House" Tour - a grassroots effort to talk face-to-face with folks about our little program, and a way to support Eric Peters and help more people discover his music. Between August 26 and October 29, 2011, we planned out 7 different trips to various regions of the country, based on the great response we had to our initial invitaiton (we had to reject about 70% of the interested parties because of the high response). Eric played (in most cases) a living room concert to an intimate audience, and we had the chance to share more about UTR. Here's the places that we visited in order:
1. Oregon - Great weather allowed for 3 backyard house concerts. The Oregon coast is one of the best kept secrets in the whole US!
2. Georgia - Eric was all by his lonesome for 4 concerts during Labor Day weekend. Eric said he struggled through a head cold, but I think he just had the sniffles because he missed me.
3. Nebraska - Six concerts in five days. So happy that a huge behind-the-scenes helper on this tour, Laura Preston, could be Eric's chaperone on this leg of the tour.
4. Midwest (IL, MI, IN) - 850 miles on the road, 6 concerts, 3 Cracker Barrel meals, 1 humiliating loss of my Bears to Eric's Saints. This trip included our largest crowd (150) and our smallest crowd (9).
5. Pennsylvania & W.Virginia - Since I was unavailable, it was great to have Eric's buddy and a new friend to me, Sam Smith, tag along for this stretch of 5 concerts.
6. Texas & Oklahoma - This trip included 4 non-house concerts (3 churches & 1 school), 850+ more miles of driving, Buc-ee's beef jerky, some Texas BBQ, and 1 singer who lost his voice completely after the last concert of the stretch.
7. New England (NY & CT) - We accompanied the final 4 concerts of the tour with 750+ more miles of driving (yay!), a visit to 4 used bookstores, and we attended the northeast Comic Con - unfortunately without our Frodo costumes.
Besides great memories and a pile of new friends made, there are a lot of things a radio producer can learn from going on the road with an indie artist. Here's 3 myths that were busted during these last 2+ months with Eric:
1. Myth: Musicians only work 2 hours per day. Less if they're an opening act, right? Wrong. Between the flying, driving, prepping, sound checking, performance, selling merchandise, mingling, and Starbucks drive thru - I was averaging 14-15 hour work days on the tour. On top of that, all the traveling, packing, unpacking, & highway navigation is more exhausting than most people realize. There is almost no "space" for creativity to exist. So my respect has grown immensely for artists who are writing songs and working on record production while they are on the road.
2. Myth: I was able to put together this tour all by myself. That's laughable! None of this would have happened if not for the following amazing people: the gracious and kind hosts at each home and venue, our parent organization (ReFrame Media) who is supportive of a radio program doing unorthodox ministry, Eric - who is one of my favorite dudes in the world, Laura P. who worked tons of hours to make sure all the logistics were in line, and my pregnant wife Laura and 3 kids who I saw very little of for 2 months yet were supportive to see my wacky dreams fulfilled.
3. Myth: I hope to duplicate this tour in 2012. While we did saddle up our horses for a great adventure (don't sue me Steven Curtis), it turned out to be a bit more taxing and time consuming than I had originally thought. We might do another living room tour with another artist some day down the road, but it won't ever be at the scale of this one. These will be memories I carry with me for the rest of my life, but right now I'm just enjoying keeping my feet on Chicago soil for a while.
With the hard work in the rear view mirror and the many goals achieved, it's hard to put into words the overflow of gratitude I have in my heart. For those of you who hosted, attended, bought CDs, and prayed for us, your support has blessed me and I know that it is tremendously meaningful to Eric. I'm sure there will be many more stories to tell. Let's start with a couple of features you can find on the UTR website, including a video performance from the tour and a photo gallery. On Episode #160 of UTR (releasing 12/2/11), I'll be interviewing Eric about his thoughts on the UTR Tour plus answering questions from our listeners. If you attended any of our tour spots, feel free and share your stories below.