Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rolling With The Flow On The Road

I performed for a Red Hat Society multi-club party this weekend in Florence, Alabama. I was in a skit, I gave a short voice lesson in Power, Path and Performance, then I sang a 45 minute set. Getting to the gig reminded me how important it is to have a certain all important mindset when dealing with "unexpected adventures" on the road:

Roll With The Flow!

It started out just fine Friday afternoon- I had given my last voice lessons, returned all my phone calls and answered emails, packed the car with my keyboard, music, performance clothes, etc, and all the other stuff I've grown accustomed to taking with me. I had double-checked to make sure I had all my cords, pedals and other gear (oh how I miss having a good road manager!).

I took a deep breath, grabbed a CD of "Runaway Home" song demos in case I had a chance to do some homework (I'm writing the music out so theater groups joining the Runaway Home Alliance who don't know the Nashville number system can learn the songs), and took out southbound on I-65.

I was making good time getting to the final skit rehearsal (a hilarious take-off on "Anything Goes" by the host chapter) and sound check scheduled for 7pm that night; the gig was Saturday afternoon. About half way there my thoughts began to drift along from new song lyrics, vocal warm-ups, script lines, to-do lists, future plans and such. I nonchalantly glanced at my gas gage; it read "full", so I paid no further attention. That is, until my car began to lurch and lunge in the tell-tale "out of gas" dance! I was so completely out of gas I had allowed the gage to get stuck somehow, and it went from reporting "FULL" to completely "EMPTY".

I coasted as far as I could to try and tell exactly where I was, but when I stopped I still couldn't see an exit in either direction. All I knew for sure was that I was somewhere between Nashville and Florence. A sweet family of strangers stopped and gave me a ride to the next exit's gas station and drove me back to my car; I filled itwith a gallon of gas but it still wouldn't start.

I finally made the decision to place a cellphone call to AAA, which always takes at least an hour to get to me (which is why I didn't call them in the first place). The tow truck couldn't start it with more gas, so I called my brother Billy Robbins, who is a master mechanic in Brentwood, Tn for advice. From the back of his Harley (he and his wife were riding in the "Trail of Tears" motorcycle event), he suggested that I have the truck tow me to a gas station, fill my tank half full and tap on my fuel tank with a hammer (don't ask me why!). It finally worked!!

I drove off, a happy camper until I discovered that I'd left my purse in the tow truck. I contacted AAA who helped me met up with the guy again, get my purse and tipped him well! Meanwhile, my sweet sister Beki Ferguson came to meet me and make sure my adventures were over.

About 10:00pm, we finally got to the venue in Florence where my mother was waiting, and I was able to set up my gear. We all had a great, relieved laugh over the whole series of events, and I called my brother to tell him the tow truck guy thought he was a genius! (We all know he is.)

Moral of this story: I have discovered that sometimes the stranger the road problems, the better the gig. My voice was in great shape due to all the time I had to warm up while waiting for rescue. (Oh yeah, and I sang full voice every day for a week before the gig... I had learned THAT lesson!)

If I had let the frustrations consume me, I know it would have negatively affected my performance. Instead, my mother was honored, my niece Gretta, a talented performer in her own right, worked the spotlight and got to see me practice what I preach to her, the sound guys (who didn't know me) were very surprised and complimentary, and Florence mayor Bobby Irons' wife Sara, herself a Red-hatter, told me I could quote her as saying she'd never been to a better concert.

The banquet hall full of scarlet and purple gave me two standing O's - one in the middle of a brand new song "I Believe", which I co-wrote with Alicia and Jessica Yantz, and again at the end of the concert.

All I can say is, Thank you God! I can say from experience - no matter what- it will all work out if we just trust the journey, treat everyone with kindness and respect and Roll With The Flow!

Have you had any "road adventure" lessons lately? Confess!!



  • At October 14, 2008 at 11:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I haven't had any "road experiences" like that, but... my daily life can tend to be that frustrating. I have a really bad habit of getting overwhelmed. My response isn't to get angry, I just give up. Funny thing, though, even if it's a day later, I always come back to whatever it is. So, maybe it's not that I give up, I just "step back."

    But, that wouldn't have worked if I'd been in your situation that day, and had a scheduled gig... wow, I'm sorry you went thru that!



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