Category

touring

Great Big World

By | children, food, touring, world | No Comments

This week I have been thinking a lot about the remaining 28 kids on my merch table. To be honest, I’m a goal-setter and I sometimes trivialize important things and make them all about achieving a goal…and I’ve been kind of doing that with my FH kids. Goal: get 5 kids sponsored on this tour. Current sponsorships: 1.

This week has been a long one. So far Ive played 8 shows in 8 days, traveled well over 1500 miles, and had so much to keep track of touring with a band while still trying to fill open dates in my August tour down south. Im feeling incredibly exhausted, a bit sleepy (its nearly 5am and I should probably just go to bed), but mostly discouraged. Discouraged because 290 people disappeared into thin air just 2 days ago – lost their lives…like they never even existed! Just gone. And I’m like WHAT??? How does that even happen? How is that even allowed to happen??? Who’s getting away with this kind of stuff!!? These questions, and the anger that comes with them, weigh me down.

I was sitting in the back of the Theater at our Creative Alliance show on Thursday (Baltimore) and LEA (incredible songwriter) was singing this song that almost made me cry like a baby. I think it was called Great Big World. She sang about how dark the world has gotten and how hopeless it can seem, and how easy it is to be distracted by all the sadness and evil; but how beautiful it is to look into the eyes of a child and see hope through their innocence. The song was so good…and on our drive from Baltimore to Central PA all I could think of was these kids! I’ve got 28 of them and to everyone (myself included sometimes) they are ’’just faces’’. There’s no personal attachment. We don’t know them, they don’t know us, they just sit on my table. And if no one sponsors them, then they don’t get sponsored. And if they don’t get help, they continue living in poverty. And because it’s a great big world, it ’’doesn’t really matter’’ to most of us because they’re so far away, it doesn’t directly affect us, and ’’we’ll never meet them anyhow’’…right? And so I have been very sad about this these past two days because 290 people being bombed out of the sky should never be allowed to happen. And children going hungry should actually be illegal! And we shouldn’t become so apathetic that we accept both and simply go on with our lives.

The Food for the Hungry station at my table doesn’t exist so that I can feel better about myself and convince myself that I am making the world a better place, It’s there so that, with the help of you all, the hundreds of people who come to shows every month, kids who are living in poverty can live in freedom. I believe there is nothing more dangerous in this world than a child with no hope left in their eyes…because that’s all we got!

If you want to sponsor a child, you can do that right here on my FH page: www.joyike.com/fh. Sponsorship is $35 a month and that’s really not much. If you want to ask me question, please shoot me an email: [email protected]

In love,
Joy

 

#363 Don’t Quit

By | art, life, touring | No Comments

Welp folks! I believe we’ve seen the last of the cold and snow and it’s finally feeling like Spring. Today I wrap up my month-long tour and settle back into Pittsburgh for the whole month of April. It has been quite a month and definitely the most rewarding experience I have ever had on the road. So grateful for all the friends I’ve made, all the places I’ve been, and all the people who came out to support. Words simply cannot express how thankful I am. This year I’ve really begun to see the fruit of seeds that were planted years ago: new doors opening, better opportunities, and goals being met. It’s like trees are finally growing and things are blooming. And i’m so very excited about the future!

While on one of my friend’s Instagram today, I came across this photo (below) and it felt so appropriate. It felt like a great way to wrap up this tour and begin what is hopefully the next chapter. Don’t quit. Don’t ever quit!

(via Amena Bee)

#361 Joel Ansett + Jasmine Tate

By | music, people, touring | 2 Comments

Yup, it’s Music Friday!

Jasmine Tate + Joel Ansett are no strangers to this blog. I’ve shared their music in past Music Friday posts. But today I wanted to drop a note and ask you to seriously familiarize yourself with their music and mark the above dates in your calendar for when they’re passing through your city.

These two are so special to me and they are going to change the world with their music!  If you are a homeowner and are open to welcoming them for a house concert contact them via the above links. If you have a local coffeehouse, venue, or art center in your community that is willing to host them, please reach out and book them. I’m nearly certain they will have an open date or two that YOU can help them fill! In fact, here are their email addresses so you don’t make an excuse for not knowing how to get ahold of them :)  [email protected][email protected]

And lastly, here is a sneak peak of the music goodness you’ll get in return.

Happy Music Friday!

#357 Teamwork!

By | little epiphanies, touring | No Comments

If I were to base my opinion of NYC solely off of yesterday’s experience, I would tell you that I LOVE New York City!  If you know anything about my past experiences there, you’ll understand why that’s a pretty huge statement coming from me. Especially if you take a few minutes to read post #47: “Trouble“. I wrote it almost exactly one year ago to the day!

my neighbor, Rachel

But yesterday was special indeed. and it reminded me of something I already knew – no job is too big when you have many workers. Upon arriving in New York, my friend Andrew and his girlfriend Alexandra had me over for an early dinner. After dinner we were running late to the venue and Andrew took my keys and offered to drive so I could focus on contacting the venue about my delay and making a few other last minute connections. Andrew helped shave 10 minutes off the GPS time and got us to the venue in time for a soundcheck  (20 minutes before doors opened). Upon arriving to to the venue, Alexandra hopped out with me and helped me load in while Andrew helped me park my car. And Rachel – my neighbor who lives 10 houses down from me in Pittsburgh and was coincidentally in NYC for the weekend- arrived to set up and run my merchandise table.

The only thing I had to do last night was soundcheck, tune my ukulele and pick a set list. And when i got on stage, I felt more stress-free than I have felt in a long time. Up until today I’ve never fully realized how doing everything has taken a toll on me and kept me from focusing on the main thing. It distracts me and keeps me from playing well, fully connecting with people, and  feeling like I’m operating in the moment. I’m so used to wearing so many hats and thinking about what comes next so that everything can flow smoothly.

Alex and Andrew

Anyhow, I told Andrew, Alexandra, and Rachel that I feel so indebted to them for making last night run so well. They told me that I didn’t owe them anything and that they enjoyed being there. And i decided that I need to stop being afraid to ask people for help and feeling like I owe them something when they do offer their time. Most times people feel rewarded simply because they get to be a part of the big picture. Anyhow, here’s to Andrew, Alex, and Rachel!  I honestly don’t know how I could have done yesterday by myself. Thank you guys so much!

 

 

#353 How To Spot a Cop Car from a “Mile” Away!

By | life skills, touring, travel, Uncategorized | One Comment

Since i spend waaaay too much time in my car, I’ve compiled this handy checklist for avoiding speeding tickets by proactively spotting out cop cars. Yes, i’m proud of myself. It’s based primarily on observation and also on common sense. But I’ve found that when I test these 4 things, I can usually spot out a cop car in just enough time to not get pulled over! hehe

1. It’s American-made

Cop Cars in the US are American-made. They don’t drive Hondas, Toyotas or any of the good kind :) Most often you’ll see a cop driving a lame Ford or a Chevy. On occasion, you’ll see a cop in a wannabe Dodge or some other American car.  But usually Ford or Chevy. If you suspect the car next to you is a copper, just do a quick check of the car’s Make.

2. Its License Plate is in Your State

This is the second check I do. If you’re in Nebraska and the car’s license plate is from Ohio, then it is not a cop car. Cops stay in their territory. They’ll take a stretch of highway and monitor it for speeders or they’ll find neighborhoods to surveil within their jurisdiction. So if you’re in Massachussets and that dude with the Pennsylvania license plate is eyeing you, don’t stress, he probably just thinks you’re hot :)

3. There are No Passengers

Most cop cars (especially on highways) only have 1 occupant in the car – the driver. If there’s a passenger you can bet, 99% of the time, that it’s not a cop car. The likelihood of there being a passenger cop increases within city walls b/c the highway cops are bored out of their mind and it doesn’t take 2 cops to drive up and down a highway giving out useless tickets that they shouldn’t be giving out since you were only going 10 miles over and you weren’t going to hurt anyone anyhow (glad i got that off my chest)!

4. There’s Extra Stuff on/in the Car

Cop cars can be pretty sneaky these days! Always tryna hide and be slick. While most vehicles are still primarily black and white, some are dark blue, silver, and the occasional red. So many times you’ll be surprised to find that the car chilling on the side of the road is not your friend! But, despite their desire to fit in and be accepted by disgruntled drivers like me who are just trying to get from point A to point B in half the time, most cop cars are still pretty easy to spot out. They’ve got the lights on top, the weird extra mirrors (or are those lights?) on the sides, and tons of extra gadgets on their dashboard (although that can sometimes be hard to notice).

Use these 4 tips to spot out cop cars and you too can be a touring musician who spends way too much of your life in your car. Drive safely, kids. :)

…oh and don’t go to Washington D.C. They use cameras there. It messes up everything!

#351 A few things I’ve learned about the Midwest

By | culture, people, touring, travel, Uncategorized | No Comments

2 weeks, 4 states, 11 cities, and 3000+ miles later, I am back home in Pittsburgh with many wonderful memories. I thought I’d write a post about my experience in the Midwest and some things that are unique to the region.

1. people are much nicer

You’re not imagining it! People are actually nicer…waaay nicer over here! At first you will think it’s kind of weird and then you will get used to it. And then you won’t be able to live without it! All those smiles! I spent about half of my Midwest tour in Minnesota and learned the expression “Minnesota Nice”. That’s what they call it. The kind heartedness of everyone on my trip is what made the terrible shows ok and the good shows great!

hosts + new friends! Jon+Kristen Olson

2. people take care of you

Like really take care of you! This kind of goes along with the above point. I stayed in the homes of “friends of friends” on this particular trip. People who didn’t even know me went out of their way to make sure that i felt at home. Don’t get me wrong: Im always staying in people’s homes and they’re always nice. But there’s a difference between being nice and going “above and beyond”. And it seems like hospitality in the Midwest is truly a perfected art.

 

3. skinny jeans don’t exist

nicest goodwill i’ve ever been to in my life!

You can tell alot about people based on what they wear. While in the region I visited a few thrift stores to see what unique things I could find. I learned alot about how Midwesterners dress – after all thrift store clothes trickle down from department stores.  So lemme just tell you: I could not find even 1 pair of skinny jeans anywhere! Ok, that’s a  little bit of an exaggeration, especially because i bought the 1 pair i did find (hehe). But Midwesterners do not wear skinny jeans. They like their boot-cut bottoms and a pair of rugged boots to match. It didnt take long to make sense of it, really. I mean after all, hip-hugging, thigh-sucking stretchy material doesn’t exactly pair up too well with the resilient, farming culture of the Midwest. The funny thing is, I didn’t notice this on people until i went thrifting. Then i opened my eyes and noticed the people around me. They were all wearing their wool sweaters, heavy scarves, and heavy duty pants.

3. cold is not actually cold…its just “cool”

During my first week in Minnesota, it was cold. Like icy cold! Like -18 degrees cold. I was so confused about this because it was incredibly sunny. How could there be an extra layer of road (in the form of ice) while the sun was so bright and warm. I’ll never understand it. But I noticed that people in the Midwest have a very different definition of cold. And when it hits 30 degrees it’s practically spring *sarcasm* and you can find many of them loitering around without coats. One of my friends made a joke about this guy in his neighborhood who wears out shorts as soon as it hits 40 degrees.  And to that I say… WHAT!

 

Anyhow, now that this trip is said and done, I am so eager to return to the Midwest. It was such an excellent 2 weeks and I almost wish it could have been longer.

5 Reasons Why I Love Being on the Road

By | people, touring, travel | No Comments

1. People

Jonathan Gale

Hands down, there’s nothing like meeting new people on a daily basis! People are so interesting and the most interesting ones will never be on stage. On this particular trip, I’ve met alot of college students that have been fun to get to know. I met a small coffeehouse owner who is so hospitable and so passionate about her business. I wanted to put her in the car and take her everywhere with me. I also met this dude who is a banker by day and photographer by night. And his pictures are killer. We talked about how he could make the move to doing it full-time. I got to stay with two Nigerian sisters in Minneapolis who treated me like their own, and Jonathan Gale (right) introduced me to Snap Chat. Apparently all the college kids are doing it these days! hehe #outoftouch. The point is, meeting people is FUN! And it never gets old!

2. Solitude

On the flip side of that, and contrary to popular opinion, I’m an introvert and when I get a chance to be by myself I feel totally recharged. It’s probably because I’m always around people all the time. Most times being in the car for 3 hours by myself is exactly what the doctor ordered. I stay away from phone calls as much as possible and enjoy complete silence, or some good media. Seriously, i really love being in the car by myself.

3. Media

Contrary to what most people would think, I don’t really listen to alot of music. In fact, I only brought 2 albums with me on this trip (Shoutout to Brooke Waggoner and Jonny Rodgers!)! Yes, i still carry around albums, don’t have an ipod, and don’t download music off of iTunes. hehe.  I’m old fashioned :) BUT I love listening to talk radio, TED Talks, Sermons, and Books on Tape. I just love it. It distracts me, engages me, and makes time fly. I also learn alot. I especially love listening to Jian Gomeshi and All things Considered on NPR. But Books on Tape takes the cake…especially when its a good one!

4. Places

Toyebi & Kelechi – Tour Guides (or bodygaurds!)

Ain’t nothing as cool as experiencing a new city and finding all the things that make it unique. In many cases I leave a city almost as soon as I get there (at least it feels like that), but everyone once in a while I get to spent a few days in 1 spot. On this particular trip, a bulk of my time was spent in Minneapolis. My friends Toyebi and Kelechi took me on a grand tour of the city. We visited The Guthrie, the Stone Arch Bridge, and my favorite of all – the Midtown Global Market. As you can probably tell by the photo, I was pretty happy to be there. There were vendors from so many different nationalities. I bought a Nepalese wrap skirt that i absolutely can’t wait to wear. It’s so beautiful. It will be my memory of the market :)

Midtown Global Market

I’d say the most profound experience I had on this trip was visiting the Somalian Mall. It was like entering a different country. You would never have known you were in America. The place was filled with Somalians vending or buying goods. I learned that the primary religion among Somalians is Islam. Didn’t know that but probably should have assumed. There was a voice teaching Islamic law over the speakers as people went about their business. I borrowed my friend’s scarf and covered my head out of respect and I think that made our time there more well-received by others. We were the only non- Somalians there so we definitely stood out!  But  it felt alot like some of the markets in Nigeria.

5. Food

Corned Beef Hash w/ Scrambled Eggs & Toast

Rule of thumb: NEVER eat in Chain Restaurants when you’re visiting a new city…unless that chain restaurant is Chipotle!! HA! But seriously, there is so much food to be eaten! I definitely don’t take that for granted. hehe :) Trying new restaurants is top on my priority list when I’m in a new city. I usually look for good Asian and Mexican spots but I’m open to any place that’s not a bar. I don’t like bars or All-American but today I deviated and it was so yummy (see photo)!

Not going broke is also top on my list…so i have to figure out ways to balance that out. I do some serious shopping before I hit the road so that i never have to spend money on breakfast, snacks, fruit, etc. And then i also do research on the venues that provide a free meal for performers on the night of their show. So that saves me tons of money too. But i never pass up the opportunity to try out a mom-and-pop restaurant. Thankfully my metabolism is still in good shape :) hehe.

Ok, thanks for reading! I think tomorrow, I’ll make a list of 5 reasons why I hate being on the road because i got plenty for that list too. We’ll see :)

 

#348

#327 when you don’t feel necessary…

By | purpose, touring, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Tonight, i did not feel like being a musician. In fact I was in a funk all day because everything in me wanted to cancel the show, stay inside, watch a movie, and pretend that I spend my life doing other things. Early in the day I sat on my sister’s couch here in Philly responding to emails and looking out the window every few minutes to see if the snow had stopped. It hadn’t. It was actually getting thickier. And her street was getting whiter. I began to feel foolish about everything – about spending so much time booking shows, traveling hours to get to those show, and always holding my breath in the hopes that people will show up. It’s absolutely exhausting! Not to mention dragging in equipment, setting up, having to run sound (due to the fact that it was a non-nontraditional venue), and having to find someone to be in charge of collecting cover from attendees, because both my person A and person B got sick.  I sat on my coach sulking and feeling kinda sorry for myself: “I wish i had a manager. I wish had someone to do help with the driving. I wish i had this or that, or that or this”. It was a pretty rough afternoon, actually. When 5pm rolled around my sister asked if the show would be cancelled. Clearly she didn’t want to go as much as I didn’t. And i started to ask myself questions like “what do you do when you don’t want to be ‘on’? When you don’t want to try? When you don’t want to care?”

But then i got a little angry thinking, “Wait a second! It took alot of work to put this event together! And i drove 5 hours to Philly! There’s no way I’m cancelling this night…even if only 5 people come!”  I also remembered that my last cancelled show was back in 2012 also in Philly due to bad weather. And with that I showered, dressed, and was out the door with Peace. I’m not gonna say that i was in a better mood. Not the case. In fact, it might have been worse. The roads were ugly to drive on and I still didn’t have anyone to run the door. But i was resolved to do my job and make the night happen.

Setup and soundcheck took roughly an hour, we found someone to run the door, and then the weirdest thing happened – people started coming. And they kept coming. And by the by time we started we were full. And by the time we were 45 minutes in, we were packed! And none of us could believe it! After the show, a guy came up to me and told me it was the first time he laughed in a long time. I was really confused wondering what it was  that we said, but he told us it was actually because of how we played and that he hadn’t laughed genuinely in a long time. That made me feel good. It made me feel necessary.

I’m not going to say that everything was perfect by the end of the night. I was pretty consistent in feeling  like i wanted a cup of tea and an episode of Downton Abbey. But I knew the night was not wasted. I met 3 girls who came because their dance instructor uses my music in her class, two other girls who came because they saw my poster in a window, a handful of college girls who were once part of the church youth group I volunteer with in Pittsburgh,  and others who came for various reason included the other fine and much more talented performers Brittany Tranbaugh and Heather Lloyd.

So it wasn’t just a good night. It was a great one! :) One that reminded me that you are often more necessary than you think.  I was happy to have been part of it and I’m excite that we’re repeating the show tomorrow in Washington D.C.!

 

#326 Bird People!

By | people, touring | One Comment

IMG_7157

Meet Justin and Bronwyn – a young married couple from Lambertville, NJ (just 40 miles north of Philly). Tonight Peace and I played in their center – Birdhouse Center for the Arts. Its a cute, quaint space in a magical little town that hosts live music in a house concert-like setting. The building is a completely transformed barn that holds programming for kids and adults alike. Justin and Brownyn are music therapist and they live across the street! :)

You can tell when people care about what they do. Their passion oozes out of them, and I’ve found that usually when people care deeply about something, they work to make it enjoyable for others. They want others to care about it too. This is Justin and Bronwyn. It was pretty awesome to see the love for their work in their eyes and in how they wanted their community to be part of the experience. Though I only got a chance to meet them today, I’m excited about returning to the center and can’t wait to learn more about what they’re doing there. The center is only 1 year old and it seems like it’s got a bright future.

Also, Bronwyn’s last name is Bird…and i really like birds!

 

#323 Home Away From Home

By | touring, Uncategorized | No Comments

 

If there’s something I’ve learned over these past several years of traveling more frequently, it’s that people want to offer a helping hand if and when they can. They want to feed you, they want to give you their spare bedroom for the night, or simply be there as a friendly face on the other end of your journey.

Last weekend as I kicked off my tour schedule for the year, my sister and I played two shows in Washington D.C. and Elizabethtown, PA. Even though weeks of preparation and promoting went into each event, we were still surprised by packed rooms, excited music lovers, and many new ears that had never heard our stuff before except through a friend, a facebook invite, or a storefront poster. But the most enjoyable part of the weekend was reconnecting with friends we hadn’t seen in a while – friends who took us out to dinner, cooked for us or let us crash at their pad. Just simple things that they could do and wanted to do to show their support for us.

There are families like the Edivans who have quickly become favorites for my sister and I! They’re a super cute couple who bring their 4 kids out to our shows (ages 11 -17)  whenever we come through DC. Only 1 kid, Lydia, could come this week, but we took a picture with her to make her siblings jealous :).

There is Marci Weidler who I had never met before in person but she has been following my music for the past year and we’ve become friends over social media. She invited us to her home for dinner before out Etown show and her husband made some mind-blowing sushi for us. By right I should have taken a picture with them…but we definitely took a picture o the sushi! ha! Didn’t have our priorities straight :) And then there is my friend, also named Joy, who often feels like one of my biggest cheerleaders. She is always rooting for bigger and better things.

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She housed us for a night and fed us the following morning – eggs, waffles, and chicken sausage!  You can bet I took a picture of that too! I also got to catch up with good Lancaster friends who try to make it out to my shows whenever I’m in the area.

Here is one of my closest friends, Fran and her new hubby Dan. Anyhow, all these people really made us feel loved and appreciated and it’s those things that make traveling fun. It’s like having a home and community of friends no matter where you go :) I can barely wait for next weekend’s trip!

Feeling blessed :)