The Big East West Tour
Sky Choice | Contributor
“So… What are you going to do after you graduate college?” It was a question asked of me and my fellow seniors at the beginning of our last year. What was next for us? I had put some thought into the answer, but I wasn’t sure how realistic my goals were. I wanted to be a touring musician. I would be able to do the two things I loved most- travel and play music. I didn’t just want to roam around my home state of Colorado though. I had done that before on Winter Tours. I wanted to do a full tour, a national tour. So I did.
I spent January and February planning my route. Music venues book musicians an average of 3-4 months in advance, so to begin playing shows in June, I sent out emails in March, then followed up every couple of weeks thereafter. I used IndieOnTheMove.com to find the venues. I had been hosting people on Couchsurfing.com for over a year and would take my turn as a traveler. I graduated in May with a B.A. in Music in Vocal Performance and Music Business. I had my tour kickoff in the middle of June and returned for the holidays in late November.
How exploring North America became a journey of self-discovery
This summer Sky took the stage at SRVS to bring some smiles to everyone on hand!
SRVS is a United Way partner agency and the largest and most comprehensive service provider for people with disabilities in the Mid-South. Click to learn more!
So far I’ve traveled through 27 states (including Colorado and D.C.) and 2 Canadian provinces within the last 6 months. That’s about 16,000 miles on the road. I’ve met more people than I can count and I’ve been changed by every encounter. Yes, I do mean EVERY encounter. I was in Burlington, VT, with no place to stay. After arriving at the venue, I introduced myself as the entertainment to a couple at the bar and then played my set. They found out I didn’t have a place to stay and invited me into their home. Then, over breakfast, they set up a place for me to stay in Montreal, QC. In Pittsburgh, PA, I was again without a place to sleep and a couple of Couchsurfers picked me up last minute. During my stay they took me around the city, taught me how to play card games, introduced me to their friends, brought me out on the town. The kindness of strangers has been a never ending theme of the trip. I’m still amazed and humbled by all the people who have helped me along the way- if you are reading this now, thank you.
I would never have guessed the adventures I would get into while on the road. I walked in the second line in New Orleans at Halloween. I saw Niagara Falls from the Canada side. I performed on the streets of Santa Fe, Austin, and Tennessee, wandered through Central Park in New York, swam in the Gulf Of Mexico off the Florida coast, hiked the National Mall in D.C. from The White House to The Lincoln Memorial, dipped my toes into Lake Michigan in Chicago, watched a Lake Superior sun set in Duluth, explored art museums in Bloomington, Omaha, and Kansas City, made new friendships, reconnected with old friends and family I hadn’t seen in years. These are just a handful of the amazing things I’ve experienced.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. It may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
There were also a few less-than-amazing things. I slept in my car several times. I played to empty coffee shops and bars. I had my car broken into and a majority of my equipment and my clothes were stolen. I fought with the differences between loneliness and being alone. To say these things detracted from the trip would be a lie, though. They were an integral part of the trip. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. It may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”- Maya Angelou. Nights in the car became times of self-reflection, away from the world. Empty venues turned into places to experiment and try new things with minimal risk. Right after my car was broken into, a man and his son came by, asking if my friend and I had anything to spare. I did. I’d been handing out granola bars to people on the streets who had signs saying “Anything Helps.” The food was still in my car. I sent the man and his son with a handful of the snacks and a gallon of water. My gear and clothes were gone, but I wasn’t going to let the thieves take my humanity, too. I wasn’t going to pass up on the chance to help. Through so much time by myself, I became a more distilled version of me. I became more truthful to myself, more aware of my needs and wants. I feel more authentic than when I left.
Sky Choice picked up the guitar in 2008 and has been songwriting ever since. Aiming to rejuvenate the definition of “singer/songwriter,” his sound is influenced by Passenger, Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, John Mayer, Damien Rice, and the current song playing through his car stereo. He has recorded two full length albums, Young (2014) and Tempest/Timberline (2016), and holds a bachelor’s degree in music business and vocal performance. Sky has organized and performed in several tours with shows in Denver, New Orleans, New York, and Austin.
And the trip isn’t over yet. The Big East West Tour continues in Colorado through December and nationally again in January. After having left my footprints in the East, it’s time to leave some tracks in the West. This constant travel isn’t sustainable, though, I’ve run the numbers. I don’t know what I’ll do when I come back, but I know it was worth it. Every cent, every second- the travel is worth it.
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