You will find as a touring musician that you spend more time behind the wheel than on stage. Once you've booked those gigs, you gotta get there. As a truck driver, I knew that one of the realities of the road is that sooner or later, you will break down. When you do, be prepared. I always had a road-side service to call, and they were paid to get me where I was going as fast as possible, so it was never a big deal. When I went out on the road as a touring musician, the first thing I did was become a member of AAA, and I have been very happy with their service. Many insurance policies include road side assistance. also many car warranty's include road side assistance. many cell phone companies have a road side assistance program too. Your roadside assistance plan must be in place before you need it.
AAA rules vary from state to state, but you want to be a PLUS member. this service will get you all kinds of benefits, but the biggest one is that they will tow your car 100 miles for no charge. One night I had a gig in Connecticut and my car broke down a block from the venue. I parked it on the side of the road and walked to the venue, borrowed a car and went and got my equipment out of the car. Then I set up and played my gig, got my money, and called AAA. The guy came right out but couldn't fix my car, so he towed me home. It was 98 miles from there to my driveway, so it was no charge! Once I even wrote a song called "I spend half my life on stage and the other half waiting on triple A."
Rules of The Road
1. Always change your oil every three thousand miles! Change your oil more often that you think you need to and your car will last a lot longer. Your car likes new oil. Follow all maintenance guidelines in your car's hand book.
2. Drive in the daytime. You have a much better chance of getting your car repaired and back on the highway during the day. At night all they can do is tow you to a garage and then take you to a near-by motel.
3. Stay on major interstates. There are tow drivers on call 24 hours a day for every inch of interstate in the U.S. Also state troopers are out and they will get you a tow driver ASAP.
4. Always know where you are. If you break down and call AAA, they will ask what state are you in? what road are you on? what exit are you at? if you don't know where you are... they won't either.
5. Always have your tour information handy, so that if you break down, you can call and let the venue know that you're going to be late, or not there at all.
6. Always have your telephone/address book handy as you may know someone who lives near where you have broken down.
7. Do not drive if you are tired. Do us all a favor and get the heck off the road! I mean this very seriously because I know more than one person who has fallen asleep at the wheel and caused an accident where people have been seriously injured. Stop at a rest area, get a room, get coffee. Roll down the windows and turn the stereo on loud and sing along until you find a place to stop and rest.
8. Make sure you have an up-to-date map, as well as directions to your gig. Many venues have directions available on their web-site.
Kyle Shiver (rhymes with diver) is a singer/songwriter based in Savannah, GA.