“…So We Stuffed Our Fiddle Player In The Trunk And Took Off”
by Jordan Olsen, guitarist for Brothers Brimm
Anyone who thinks touring with a band is glamorous has never actually done it themselves. Normal everyday things you take for granted like showering, being able to privately change clothes, or just enjoy more than 6″ of personal space can become really important.
Life on the road over the past decade may have been different than I had originally expected, but at least it has given me a lifetime of hilarious stories to tell.
For example, one summer I was on a northwestern tour with a group of fantastic musicians, including a very talented fiddle player from Boston; a graduate of Berklee.
Halfway through the tour, as we were about to cross over from Washington to Oregon – headed toward that night’s show – something happened that nearly imperiled the rest of the tour.
Irony Is Spelled C-O-F-F-I-N
As we approached the bridge crossing the Columbia River, which separates Washington from Oregon, our van began to whine. It started to jerk. And then it started to slow.
As cars whooshed past at freeway speeds we reached a point at which our van couldn’t accelerate over 5 mph.
Unsure of what was happening to our van, we slowly made our way towards the next exit. Our mounting dread was compounded when we saw the name of that exit. Coffin Road.
No really. It was called "Coffin Road."
Trying not to read into the irony, we bust out our flip-phones (hey, it was 2008, and we were proud of those overpriced phones) and frantically called around to find the nearest automotive repair shop. We found a shop not too far away in Oregon. The only catch was, we had to make it over the bridge crossing the Columbia River.
As we limped back onto the freeway at 5 mph we started taking bets on our chances of getting hit by oncoming traffic. Regardless of the hazard we posed – as in so many other challenges in life – we didn’t have a choice, so we pushed on.
We crept onto the bridge and immediately stuffed up traffic. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to piss off every other driver around us. We offered pittiful smiles and shrugged shoulders to every car lucky enough to finally pass us.
One precocious 11-year-old – a dead ringer for that one kid in Malcom In The Middle – actually flipped us off. We couldn’t blame him.
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally crossed the bridge and made our way to the repair shop at a snails pace.
At the shop we were told our transmission was totally shot, but that the shop could rebuild us one. The only problem... it was going to take 3 days.
We were faced with the immediate problem of making it to that night’s venue, as well as the next 2 nights of shows.
So again, out came the trusty flip-phones to find a rental vehicle.
What To Look For In A Touring Vehicle
For a band, a touring van is your fortress of solitude. It’s your home away from home. A place to sleep. A place to eat. No matter how many smelly socks are stuffed into seat pockets, that van is the closest thing to serenity you can find out on the road.
Our particular ‘fortress of solitude’ was more than just a means of transportation. We built bunk-beds in it, so it was our hotel. We used every available storage compartment, so it was our luggage. We burned through 19 seasons of The Simpsons on an 1989 color TV mounted to the ceiling, so it was our living room. Finding a replacement for all of those functions was going to be difficult.
Little did we know, finding ANYTHING was going to be near impossible.
How To Compromise On A Touring Vehicle
Despite being home to a really great transmission shop… this little town in Oregon showed a marked deficiency in vehicle rental options.
As we continually lowered the bar on what we’d be willing to rent, it quickly became apparent that our only rental option was Budget Rental Truck.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Budget Rental Truck if you’re moving your home. However, there’s all kinds of things wrong with Budget Rental Truck if you’re trying to get 4 guys and their gear to the next gig.
Your typical moving truck has two captain chairs up front, and a big box for hauling your life's possessions. But there being 4 of us, so we had a decision to make.
“Who gets to ride in back?”
After an awkward conversation we finally settled on the only mature way for grown men to solve a disagreement… rock, paper, scissors.
Our bassist and fiddle player lost bad.
So we stuffed our bassist and fiddle player in the truck's trunk and took off.
Back On The Road
We drove 694 miles in that box truck. The scenery was beautiful… for 2 of us.
At each stop, we opened the big rolling door, and there was our bassist and fiddle player sitting among the gear, squinting and shielding their eyes from the light like disoriented bats who woke-up midday.
After 3 highly successful shows, and 3 nights of moderately successful sleep (in the moving truck's box), we returned to Oregon to reclaim our Fortress of Solitude and finish out the tour.
Go Listen To 'Fortress of Solitude'
In honor of tour vans everywhere, Brothers Brimm wrote an eclectic song called 'Fortress of Solitude.'
You can stream Fortress of Solitude now on our album "Nate's Beard" by clicking here.
If you like the track you might also consider checking out Brothers Brimm’s latest album “Ben Head”. It’s full of funky progressive jam tunes that I think you’ll really dig. 🙂
Thanks for listening,
~ Brothers Brimm